Living the Future 3: A Student Perspective
I want to be a lifelong learner. I have a passionate desire to learn the tools and skills that will enable me to find the information and resources necessary to place the world at my fingertips.
You may be thinking, "place the world at your fingertips… such high hopes!" You may say, "I'll believe it when I see it!" Well, I have seen the world placed at my fingertips at The University of Arizona Library. I have worked in libraries since high school and I have developed an interest in the field of the Information Sciences. As I recognized this interest becoming more tangible, I tried to put it into words through a conversation with Jenn Tellman, a UA Librarian. I told her that librarians have the world at their fingertips. I think she was pleasantly surprised by this comment.
Before I continue sharing my story with you, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lisa McCamey. I am an undergraduate student at The University of Arizona, double majoring in Communication and Spanish. I have been a student employee at The University of Arizona Library since January 1999 first working with Sara Heitshu and the LFA Committee, but currently working with Barbara Allen, Yolanda Becerra, and Samuel Huang in FAST [Financial and Administrative Support Team]. After my graduation in May of 2001, I intend to pursue a Masters degree in the Information Sciences.
One of my responsibilities as an employee of The University of Arizona Library is to help publish the monthly web newsletter, UA Library News. After my father viewed the February publication, he offered to sponsor my attendance to the Living the Future 3 Conference. I was caught off guard by this suggestion because I assumed the conference was intended for librarians and library staff, but especially not for students.
With further reflection, I began to entertain the idea of attending the conference. I am interested in the field of Information Sciences, and this would be a great learning experience and networking opportunity. Also, a discount was provided for students and UA affiliated people, which further encouraged me. By attending the conference, I anticipated developing a clearer view of what the field of Information Science includes.
I was still a little apprehensive about attending the conference because I was told I was the only student registered for the conference. I questioned whether or not I really belonged at the conference since I was only a student worker. At first, I intended to attend as an observer – someone who was watching the conference, but not participating. As the conference drew near, I had the opportunity to speak with Shelley Phipps. I asked her if she had any suggestions of how I should approach the conference and if there was anything that I should keep in mind as I attended. She encouraged me to think about the future and the things I would like to see in the library. She also told me to, "speak up in the dialogues." With this comment I felt welcomed and invited to participate. I changed my entire perspective after speaking with Shelley and I began to think about questions I could ask the other participants and unique ways that I could participate as an undergraduate student. I now realize my new outlook was vital to my enjoyment of Living the Future 3. Thank you Shelley!
At this conference I was able to overcome my apprehensions due to my student status and demonstrate my professionalism. It also helped that the UA Library staff who were familiar with me were able to change their student view of me and began to see me as a budding information specialist.
I was pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome and the inspiring speakers on the first day of the conference. As a student worker I am able to see behind the scenes, but I rarely get to see the big picture.
Carla Stoffle opened the conference on Thursday morning by emphasizing the importance of sharing our stories. She discussed the symbolism of the campfire which provides light and warmth and brings the storyteller and the listener close together as the stories are told. She challenged us to let Living the Future act as our campfire by bringing us closer together to share our stories.
Assistant Professor Eileen de los Reyes from Harvard University Graduate School of Education, shared her personal and magical experiences of how libraries serve as Pockets of Hope. She shared her stories of visiting the magical castle, Welsley College Library, to read 100 years of magical documents. The reference desk became the center of her universe. She was convinced that if they couldn't find the book she wanted, the librarians would go home and write it that night. She expressed concern and emphasized the need to cultivate our libraries into Pockets of Hope where students can feel safe and develop a sense of community by sharing their stories. She encouraged us to provide a nurturing, loving, and caring environment for students within the library. As she continued to share her wonderful stories, I was comforted as a student because I recognized that libraries really are Pockets of Hope for the students, and the entire campus.
I was really impressed by the welcoming encouragement I received as an undergraduate student. Many conference participants were eager to hear my student perspective regarding Information Policy, Pockets of Hope, Students' Research Processes, and my personal experiences with the library. I often suggested calling on the energetic student body and including us in the issues and concerns of the Library as well as its celebrations.
While I attended Living the Future, I heard many stories, new ideas, and encouragement. I will continue to think about my role in the future of the information sciences. I will always be a lifelong learner, but I would also like to encourage this value, this mission, within the hearts of others. I have also learned the values of seeking family, spirituality, patience, and knowledge. My mentors have been my family, my church, and my schools - including my teachers and the library staff. I want to prepare myself so that I will also be able to mentor those with a similar desire to be a lifelong learner, as I have been mentored.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the kindness you have shown me. Thank you for listening to me, guiding me, and giving me encouragement in my journey. Thank you for greeting me with a warm smile, you have brightened my day on many occasions. Thank you for leading the web site construction workshops, you have enabled me to build four web sites for the UA Library. Thank you for introducing me to the call number location guide, you have helped me to become a more efficient researcher. Thank you for asking if I needed any help, it is comforting to know that you are available and that you care. Thank you for sharing your stories with me at the Living the Future 3 Conference, you have given me renewed inspiration. Thank you for taking a moment to read this article, for you have touched my life by spending time with me and listening to my story. The University of Arizona Library is a Pocket of Hope for myself, and all of the students attending the UA. It is a place of encouragement, and it is a place where my voice can be heard.
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