NMRT Member of the Week Spotlight: Laura Birkenhauer

Laura Birkenhauer

Miami University Libraries, in Oxford, OH

Academic Resident Librarian

What are some things you like about your job or working in libraries in general?

The best part of my job is working with our students. I gain so much satisfaction assisting them in navigating the Libraries: doesn’t matter if I’m leading a tour, helping un-jam a printer or stapler, teaching a class, or walking them through using our research databases. No matter the situation, I find joy in creating a safe space for them to ask questions, grow and learn. Sharing a smile and receiving a thank you after an interaction like this makes my whole day!

What’s a project or committee you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?

As someone passionate about outreach and event planning, I’m excited to be co-hosting with another department on campus a late night breakfast event during finals week in my library. This event will bring together students, staff, faculty and administrators. I’m thrilled to be able to celebrate our students in a big way and wish them luck as they complete their finals and fall semester.

What got you interested in libraries?

Before I was employed at Miami University as a full-time employee, I attended the university as an undergraduate student, majoring in English with a focus on creative writing. I’m a long-time patron of libraries, but I’d never thought seriously about a career in the field. In my final year as a Miami student, I attended on a whim an on-campus “job talk” session presented by two librarians from the MU Libraries. In that talk, I learned about the profession and about Kent State University’s MLIS program, where I shortly after applied and gained admission as a graduate student. The presentation piqued my interest, and the rest is history.

What is one of your favorite things about NMRT?

NMRT is such a fantastic and friendly gateway to ALA, it’s difficult to choose. I think I most enjoy reading the listserv discussions on topics relevant to me, as an early career librarian.

Do you have any advice for other new librarians?

Don’t be afraid to say “no.” Sometimes, especially when you’re new to libraries, it feels like you must be everything to everybody in order to make it in this profession. I urge you to resist adopting that as your philosophy, speaking as someone who has been there, done that! You’re no use to anyone if you’re exhausted and unable to give your 100% to your commitments. Carefully consider each “yes” and also know that occasionally a “yes” will become a “no.” You’re not a flake or a failure if that happens.


NMRT wants to feature YOU in our NMRT Member of the Week Series. Nominate yourself or one of your amazing NMRT colleagues here: ow.ly/1umy30deke0

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