Department: Reference Librarian
Jennifer Kelley initially spent 10 years in the restaurant industry, first as a server while completing her master's in English and then as a restaurant manager.
When considering another career, she remembered how much she enjoyed being a research assistant in college.
"While I couldn't find a way to turn that particular job into a career, librarianship seemed to match everything that I had enjoyed in that position," she said. "I've always been the person who read reference books just for fun. In college, my favorite part of research papers was the research -- I never found the actual paper writing to be nearly as fun.
"In many ways, librarianship has a lot in common with the restaurant industry, as customer service is at the core of each. It's also as diametrically opposed as I could hope. Anyone can come in and enjoy a book or use the library's computers without a reservation or credit card. Plus, there's no dress code, the hours are much better and no one has ever yelled at me in the library."
Before coming to College of DuPage in 2006, Kelley was a reference assistant at the Newberry Library in Chicago. But she never expected teaching to be a big part of her career. In fact, when she was getting her Master's in Library Science, the Library Instruction course never quite fit into her schedule.
"My first real teaching experiences were trial-by-fire. I'm sure I wasn't great at it initially, but I hope that a combination of studying my talented colleagues and drawing on my undergraduate improv experience helped a little bit," she said. "Then I was able to attend a week-long library instruction immersion program and really took the time to think about teaching, what I was good at, what I needed to work on and how I could pull all those things together and remain intelligible in front of a group of students.
"Now, I really like teaching and look forward to each class or session as an opportunity to learn more about what I'm teaching, the students and myself. I'm automatically inspired by anyone who says 'oh cool' when I'm talking about databases."
Kelley considers herself an advocate for the library and hopes she can change someone's mind about libraries and librarians.
"I hope the student who only uses the Internet for research will use a book, that the student who only comes to the library when forced to will come back to rent a movie, that the student who is hesitant to ask for help will come to the Reference Desk with a question," she said. "I don't expect everyone to start wearing READ buttons, but I'd love for everyone to have a library card."