Alumni Spotlight: Ruth Monnier
Learning Outreach Librarian, Assistant Professor, Pittsburg State University
As a Learning Outreach Librarian and Assistant Professor at Pittsburg State University (PSU) in Kansas, Ruth provides reference services and teaches one-shot sessions on research to PSU students and high school students in the area. She helped coordinate a Banned Books Showcase (half-day conference) for high school students in the area.
She also serves as a subject liaison and maintains collections for the departments of Art, Communications, Health, Human Performance, and Recreation. Ruth collaborates with student organizations, campus departments, and community groups to organize programs. She also manages the library’s social media accounts, advocates for the use of Open Educational Resources (OERs), and creates library displays.
“I appreciate having a variety of tasks and not knowing exactly what my day will bring,” she says. One of Ruth’s favorite projects was creating a Pittsburg State-themed Digital Escape Room during the spring of 2020. While creating the escape room, she worked with others on campus to collect photographs and conduct beta testing. After doing the escape room, one student remarked that it was great to see campus, even if they couldn’t be on campus. Ruth has also been involved in other collaborative projects at PSU, including moderating the 19th Amendment Women’s Forum, working with Student Life on virtual trivia nights, and a virtual University Authors Reception.
"The most important skill for any type of librarian is to be able to present information whether that is one-on-one to a donor or direct report, instructing 25 students, or at professional conferences."
Ruth enrolled in a wide variety of courses at the iSchool, from School Library Management and Cataloging, to Genealogy and Digital Preservation. From taking a diverse selection of courses, Ruth developed a foundational understanding of her colleagues’ work and she utilizes this knowledge to conduct well-informed outreach and marketing. She says the most memorable courses were Rare Book Librarianship, History of Libraries in the Western World, and Genealogy because of Professor Kahn’s passion for these subjects, as well as the collaborative discussions and real-life examples. She also enjoyed Introduction to Digital Preservation with Professor Gracy since it challenged her to consider and learn about the preservation of “born-digital” materials. Finally, she recommends Foundations of Recordkeeping with Professor Soyka. “Record management expertise and organization is helpful in any professional position as well as your personal life,” Ruth says.
While pursuing her M.L.I.S., Ruth completed her practicum at Troy City Schools in Ohio. She enjoyed comparing the K-12 library environment with her previous public library experience. She also had the opportunity to practice programming across library types, which is one of her main interests.
RESEARCH & PUBLICATIONS
Ruth presented a poster session, “Adults Matter, Too! Passive Programming for Patrons 18 and up,” at the American Library Association’s (ALA) Annual Conference in 2018 based on her research from Greene County Public Library. She also served on a panel entitled “Partnerships on a Shoestring” at an Ohio Library Council (OLC) conference in 2019. Her article “Pivoting partnership programming during a pandemic: Centennial Celebrations in 2020” was published in Public Services Quarterly in 2021. In addition, she has written “Book Club Going Virtual? Consider These 3 Things” for ProgrammingLibrarian and “Play-ing It Forward” for the ALA Game Round Table Blog. More research presentations and publications by Ruth can be viewed on her LinkedIn page.
CAMPUS INVOLVEMENT & PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
While attending the iSchool, Ruth was a member of the OLC, ALA, and the ALA Student Chapter at Kent State. “It was a great experience to meet fellow students beyond my classes and hear from librarians in the field,” she says. Currently, Ruth is serving on the Distance and Online Learning Section (DOLS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), as well the New Members Round Table (NMRT) within ALA. She is also a member of the Kansas Library Association (KLA) and Reference and User Services Association (RUSA).
LANDING THE JOB
Ruth’s biggest challenges were finding a position that coincided with her goals of community and campus engagement and being able and willing to move for the job. “The job search can be exhausting, so I recommend using a spreadsheet or Trello to track deadlines and save those job descriptions,” she says. She also suggests letting your professors and network know what types of roles you are seeking since there are librarian jobs in many companies and organizations, from library vendors to public school districts. For helpful advice on job searching, you can read Ruth’s guest post on the ACRL blog.
ADVICE FOR CURRENT STUDENTS
Ruth advises current students to take advantage of all the resources available, including attending conferences at the discounted student rate. She recommends applying for internship and conference volunteering opportunities, as well as exploring various library types by job shadowing or organizing information interviews with librarians. Ruth also suggests attending OhioNet training events, which are free to current iSchool students. Additionally, she urges students who are interested in working in academia to be proactive in working with professors on professional publications, and revising and submitting coursework for publication. Ruth emphasizes the need for librarians to have excellent presentation and collaboration skills. “Group projects might get a bad rap, but libraries have large projects with multiple internal and external parties,” she says. “Knowing how you work with others and your optimal communication style is important.”
Current iSchool students can reach out to Ruth via LinkedIn.
Learn about other successful iSchool graduates in our Alumni Spotlights.
POSTED: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21, 2021 - 11:07AM | WRITTEN BY: JULIA STONE