iSchool Alumna Jean Amaral Wins “I Love My Librarian!” Award

Community Profile

Amaral is reference librarian for the Environmental Studies and Clinical Psychology departments at Antioch University New England. In the two and a half years since she started her job, Amaral has exhibited “energy, talent, humor, consideration, and … the most intense dedication to aiding students and faculty that I have ever seen,” wrote Steve Chase, director of Antioch’s Environmental Advocacy Program, in his nomination letter.

Amaral’s dedication comes in forms both large and small, from looking up students’ photographs and memorizing their names before seminars, to brewing up endless pots of organic coffee for anyone studying in the library.

Amaral credits the students and faculty for helping her win the honor, saying that they inspire her with their efforts to “create a socially just and ecologically sustainable world” through volunteer and research projects. The student body at the Keene, N.H., campus consists entirely of master’s and doctoral candidates. “Every day, they challenge me to be a better librarian and a better human being,” she said.

Amaral came to San José State University School of Information mid-career in 2003, after teaching English at the college level and then working in non-profit administration. Amaral gravitated toward librarianship because it melded with her desire to work in a lifelong learning environment.

While a iSchool student, she worked in the special library of an environmental engineering firm and at the Santa Clara County Public Library system. She also completed an internship working at the Contra Costa Community College Library.

She hit the ground running when she started at Antioch, armed with the belief that “it’s incredibly important for librarians to be as visible as possible.” That means sitting on the library floor to field questions from patrons, and chairing the Academic Technology Committee. Amaral also reads each course syllabus and then calls faculty members with offers to help students prepare to tackle upcoming research projects.

Amaral said she was “just floored” when she learned that she won the I Love My Librarian Award, which she received in a ceremony in New York last December. “For me, it was an affirmation of my complete belief in our faculty and students,” she said. “I’ve become attached to my students – it’s so important that the service is completely personal.” Amaral admits with a laugh that she has to “work hard to remember everyone’s names – I’m middle aged at this point!”