A full-time career and an international address did not stop alumna Celeste Rhoads ’15 from furthering her education. As the Children’s and Young Adults’ Services Manager at the American Library in Paris, Rhoads sought to develop her skills while also networking with other librarians, and found these opportunities and more through SC&I’s Master of Information Online Program. We spoke with Rhoads recently about the benefits on the online program, the use of technology abroad, and the future of the children’s and teens’ LIS field.
What drew you to the Library and Information Science field?
I was volunteering at a library in the children's department because I have always enjoyed children's literature and wanted to continue working with children while completing my undergrad work. I was offered a part-time job after several years of volunteer work, and realized very quickly that I wanted to commit to the field.
Why did you choose SC&I’s Master of Library and Information Science (now Master of Information) program?
I could not afford to quit my full-time job to complete a Masters, so I looked into online degrees and was very pleased to see that the MI Online Program at Rutgers was taught by the same professors giving in-person courses. This was the main draw for me, and I was very happy with the program.
How do you think the MLIS program helped you grow in your current professional position?
The coursework I completed for my MLIS helped fill in a lot of the gaps in my knowledge about aspects of library work that I hadn't had a chance to learn in the field, but most importantly, the MLIS program put me in touch with dynamic and thoughtful librarians who I am still in touch with today.
In your opinion, what are the top three benefits of the MLIS program?
The professors, the small class sizes and the convenience of the flexible structure (possibility of in-person or online courses) add up to make a great program.
How did you get your position as the Children’s and Young Adults’ Services Manager at the American Library in Paris?
I was volunteering at the American Library in Paris, in the children's department, during my undergrad studies because I enjoy working with children and teens, I read literature for children and teens widely and I had experience working in after-school programs and tutoring. I was offered a part-time job after several years of volunteer work, and realized very quickly that I wanted to commit to the field. A permanent position opened up, and my work and the position have evolved from there. My studies at Rutgers and the mentoring from other professionals, and from professors in the program, were vital to helping me push my department's growth.
Can you tell us about your responsibilities in this role?
- Maintain vibrant and relevant physical book collections for children and teens ages 1-18
- Plan and oversee/host activities for children and teens ages 1-18 (including story hours, book clubs, a teen writing group, a teen film club and more)
- Create promotional materials (print and web) for the children’s and teens’ services department
- Staff the children’s and teens’ services desk
- Recruit guest readers and performers for events
- Brainstorm and implement new programs to engage new and existing members of the community
- Train volunteers, interns and the assistant children’s and teens’ services librarian to appropriately assist members and potential members
- Work with collections manager to refine the budget tracking for collections
- Work with collections manager and collections team to make materials easier to find via the online catalog
- Oversee volunteers, interns and an assistant children’s and teens’ services librarian with various daily tasks in the department (creating displays, hosting programs, assisting members and creating content for social media)
- Identify, recruit and train volunteers to host new programs
How is technology being utilized in the LIS field abroad?
Much of the same technology (RFID tagging, for example) is visible in libraries here in France.
What changes/trends have you seen in the Children’s and Young Adults’ area of LIS over the past five years?
I've seen a huge shift towards creating comprehensive and diverse collections, as well as towards providing more resources to help children and teens build skills using technology.
Did you have a specific faculty member or mentor at SC&I that helped guide you in the right direction professionally?
Assistant Teaching Professor of LIS Marc Aronson and Director of the MI Program and Associate Professor of LIS Lilia Pavlovsky were inspiring, encouraging, and we are still in touch.
What advice do you have for current students and upcoming graduates who want to launch a career in your field?
Volunteer in a library! Meet librarians and try out different aspects of the job.
For more information on SC&I’s Master of Information (MI) Online Program, go to https://online.rutgers.edu/master-library-info/