We are proud to publish another interview from one of our many UA SLIS alumni. Toni Carter (MLIS ’01) recently celebrated the publication of her book Introducing Scholarly Research: Ready-to-Use Lesson Plans and Activities for Undergraduates by ALA Editions. Recalling her time as a SLIS student, Carter said, “To be honest, I don’t remember having a stated concentration, although I leaned towards academic libraries and archives. In fact, I worked in the Hoole Special Collections Library as a student.” Fifteen of her twenty years in librarianship has focused on library and information literacy instruction.
After working 12 years at Auburn University, she began a new position as Director of Kares Library at Athens State University in September 2021. Her responsibilities include everything library-related, stating, “I lead the library staff and faculty and with their help, manage the building, the budget, the resources, the donor-relations, the outreach, and more. Every day is a little different, and I like it that way”.
In terms of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the services Toni provides, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic during her time at Auburn. Similar to many university libraries, they transitioned to remote teaching and learning. As instruction coordinator, she could do much of her work at home, and spent almost all of 2020 and a part of 2021 working from home. At Athens State, library faculty and staff currently work in-person but do most of their reference work and all of instruction virtually. Most courses being taught this semester are online.
When asked if she could come back to Alabama to take any course, Toni said, “Organizational psychology! I realize that’s not a SLIS course, but the roles that I have filled throughout my career required a good bit of emotional intelligence. I would be interested to see how the use of this skill by leaders affects workplace morale, particularly in an academic library setting.”
Toni’s advice for current and prospective library science students is, “People who choose librarianship as a career often want to ‘give back’ to their community or society as a whole. In my experience as an academic librarian, this may not happen during your first month or even first year on the job. It takes patience and persistence to find those opportunities in which you can make a difference. It’s worth the work and the wait, though.”
The ALA Core Value that most inspires her work is Education and Lifelong Learning. “[It] has been the center of my universe as a librarian. I strive to help students graduate college as both curious and critical thinkers. I want these graduates to effectively locate, evaluate, and use information in all areas of their life. It’s through their efforts to answer the important questions and solve societal issues that I can also contribute to the greater good.”
We greatly appreciate Toni giving us her time to share her experiences and advice and we wish her the best as she continues her work in academic libraries!