Student Katherine Do Loves Making Knowledge Come Alive in Libraries

Community Profile

Growing up, Katherine Do always thought of librarians as “supernatural beings” who could magically pluck answers from the top of their heads. Now Do, one of 13 participants in the Librarians for Tomorrow program at SJSU, is learning how to make that once supernatural-seeming ability an everyday skill.

Do has always loved reading and helping people, and she’s spent her career in jobs that melded her two passions. After graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in psychology, Do worked as a counselor in a group home before becoming a family specialist. While working in that job, one of Do’s patients was a 13-year-old boy who had trouble expressing himself. Do started taking him to the library and was “amazed” at how he came alive in the presence of books on his favorite topics of frogs and insects.

“From that time on, I knew I had to pursue a career where I can draw out knowledge,” said Do, who expects to graduate in Spring 2010 and is considering working in either a public or academic library.

Do began volunteering at San Jose Public Library’s Rose Garden branch, where she was further inspired by librarian Doug Rees. “He’s the one who was my final ‘push’ into this great world of information excavation,” she said, crediting his depth of knowledge and spell-binding story-time readings.

Do now works as a part-time pool page at Rose Garden and loves the public library environment because, “It’s such a “microcosm of society. There’s such a variety of people and backgrounds in a library – different cultures and economic status and needs,” said Do, whose parents immigrated from Vietnam.

On top of her MLIS course load and library work, Do teaches English as a Second Language to adults. She also likes to hike and kayak in local lakes and rivers when she has the chance.

The Librarians for Tomorrow program provides MLIS students with tuition scholarships, mentoring, and the opportunity to network with inspirational library leaders. The program is made possible by grant funds received by the SJSU library, in partnership with SLIS, from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Using grant funds, San José State University School of Information is partnering with the San Jose Public Library and the National Hispanic University to recruit librarians from diverse backgrounds, and then provide them with financial assistance and other support as they earn their MLIS degree.