For Angela Bardeen, who’s always loved libraries, it didn’t occur to her until a couple years after graduating college that librarianship was a profession she could pursue.
“I worked as a counselor at a domestic violence agency and an educator for a few years, and I did Teach for America and taught in New Mexico,” she said. “I really enjoyed teaching, but I realized that maybe working with a different audience would be interesting to me.”
For Suchi Mohanty, it was a work study that introduced her to libraries and pushed her on a path toward her current position as head of UNC’s undergraduate library.
But no matter the reason — or the road that led them to libraries — both share the same passion about their careers.
Bardeen, behavioral and social sciences librarian, said the experiences she had working with students and faculty as a research assistant in the undergraduate library as a graduate student were what initially excited her about being an academic librarian.
“They’re just always following these new ideas and often helping people with research. I’m getting to learn about things I might normally think about,” she said.
Bardeen, who consults student looking for help with research and also helps build the library’s collection related to her fields, also said she loves the energy of being a librarian in an educational institution.
“We just had two Nobel laureates in Davis Library today talking to the students a little bit about their research, so that’s the kind of thing you don’t get all the time that you do get at an academic institution if you’re lucky,” she said.
Mohanty said before her work study, she wanted to be a teacher. But after taking a few education courses, she realized teaching wasn’t the perfect fit for her.
“I loved the work that I saw my supervisors doing in the library, and I realized that is a form of teaching,” she said.
Mohanty said the library is a special place and a crossroad.
“It’s a place where students and faculty can come together to consume the information they need and be successful scholars, but it’s a place where they can produce the information as well,” she said.
Mohanty said the most fulfilling part of her job is feeling that she plays an a part in students’ academic careers.
“The work I do helps students be successful academically, and once they get out in their profession, whatever their profession is,” she said. “To me, that’s really important.”
First-year Graham Tinsley, whose class toured the library, said the librarians were helpful.
“They were really friendly, and they were really engaging when you came in,” she said.
This week is National Library Week — something Bardeen said she usually celebrates with colleagues.
She said the librarians haven’t celebrated — yet.
“We have a barbecue every year that’s going to happen in May. We try to find opportunities to celebrate ourselves and celebrate each other.”