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ProQuest kicked off the ALA Midwinter Conference, happening now in Philadelphia, with the Library Journal – Teacher of the Year Award Reception. The award, sponsored by ProQuest, recognizes excellence in educating the next generation of librarians.

The recipient of the 2013 LJ Teaching Award, Dr. Suzie Allard (Associate Professor and Associate Director of the School of Information Sciences (SIS) in the College of Communication and Information (CCI) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville), was honored at the reception.

We wanted to get to know the award recipient a little bit better and reached out to her for an interview. We hope that you find this next installment of the Meet the Librarian Series as interesting as we do!

Meet Dr. Suzie Allard - RECIPIENT OF THE 2013 LJ TEACHING AWARD

What is your professional background?

My undergraduate education is in economics, and for seventeen years I worked in the entertainment industry as a consultant to several major studios.  Many activities for this period built a foundation for my later work. I studied people’s leisure time behavior and the usability and adoption of new technologies.  Later I returned to school for my masters in library and information sciences and a PhD in communication. I focused on studying heath information behavior, and the introduction of new technologies, which at that time were digital libraries.  These experiences all provided the foundation for my focus on the information behavior of scientists, science information and the emerging technologies related to new data-focused paradigm in science.

Please share something that you love about your job.

What I love most about my job are the people. The students I work with are enthusiastic, bright and committed – their energy is contagious.  My colleagues at UT and at other institutions are creative, accomplished and generous with their time and ideas. The scientists are passionate about their work, committed to making the world better and extremely collegial.

How do you engage students in your courses, in classrooms and in an online environment?

I believe the best way to engage students are to help them discover their passion and then enable them to pursue it.  Every student has their own story and their own goals.  Learning about each student and providing opportunities to talk and listen, whether virtually or in-person, is important.

What are some ways that teachers can energize their classroom?

We all have our own style and this is important to share with students. Students respond to us when we are authentic and compassionate.  This energizes the classroom because the student is free to be themselves and to contextualize the coursework in terms of their own experience and goals.

What career advice would you give to a current LIS student?

It is never too soon to think about your career!  Use your coursework and extra-curricular activities to help you identify what area of information sciences you are most interested in, and to gain the best skill sets and hopefully some experience.  Also, networking is essential for your career—a great time to start is when you are a student.  Take advantage of opportunities to meet with professionals and to engage with the professional association that is appropriate to your goals.

What do you find most exciting about the future of library and information work?

We are a dynamic field that is meeting the information needs of society. It means that we are always studying and adjusting to the changing information behaviors of our users and emerging technologies being developed to meet new information needs.  That is exciting!

Where do you see as the main issues facing librarians, library staff and teachers today?

The biggest challenge we face is building an understanding that our skills and services are more relevant than ever in the changing information environment. People have come to believe that information is only  “self-serve” or that the expertise needed to handle information is simply an “add-on” to any profession’s skill set.  We are relevant and we do provide expertise that is unique to our field, but we need to do a better job of telling our story! 

What is the best piece of career advice you ever received?

Find your passion and follow it.

24 Jan 2014 | Posted by Shannon Janeczek

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