Faculty Spotlight

The Future of Libraries is in Good Hands

Amy Ryan Reflects on her work with SLIS students.

Amy Ryan has over 35 years of public library management experience in her extensive career. That experience has informed her work with SLIS students, with whom she meets to discuss career plans and interests. We asked Ryan a few questions about her work with students.

What kind of guidance do you offer students?

The time I spend with students is driven by their interests. I have to call on my over 35 years of experience and my current library commitments to keep up with their wide range of topics. From the importance of early literacy for children’s librarians to the efficacy of digitizing entire special collections, I try to guide them in their approaches to librarianship in a way that meets their needs.  

The most frequent request is to review resumes. I am happy to help, though I’m not academically schooled in human resources. My credentials, such as they are, rest on the hundreds of resumes I’ve evaluated when selecting the right people for the right positions. I warn students that I am an honest critic and perhaps overly blunt, but I always have their success first and foremost in my mind.  

Do you enjoy working with students?

The students have enriched my life with our conversations. After a day of advising, I always walk away having learned more than I’ve shared.

The future of libraries, archives and information-related fields is in good hands. My conclusion is drawn from the over one hundred SLIS students I have had the privilege of advising since the fall of 2015. Simmons has been successful in attracting thinkers and results-oriented people, which will have an exponentially beneficial impact on people of all ages and from all walks of life. Museums, public libraries, educational institutions, historic and contemporary archives, the interests of the students are broad and deep.

What is one piece of advice you would give all current students?

The essential endgame is to secure a position in the field. Given that caveat, my advice for students is to reach out to people in the field including alumni, supervisors, hometown librarians, professors, archivists, and local professionals. Talk to them about how they got jobs, ask for advice, keep up the contact. Our colleagues are, for the most part, friendly, open-minded people who would be pleased to engage with Simmons students. That’s how people get jobs.  

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