Librarian Interview Report

Librarian Interview Report
Debbie Herman Digital Resources Librarian MLS
Burritt Library at Central Connecticut State University
Submitted by
Shelley Black-Holley
Southern Connecticut State University ILS 503
Librarian Interview Report
Central Connecticut State University was established in 1849 in New
Britain, Connecticut. Central has a diverse curriculum offering associate,
bachelors, graduate and doctorate programs. It currently employs nine
hundred thirty-five full and part-time faculty members, five hundred ninetysix non-faculty members and one hundred and twenty-five graduate
assistants for a grand total of one thousand six hundred and fifty six
The library opened in 1959. It was named for New Britain native Elihu
Burritt. He was a known advocate of peace. Robert Vance, an editor and
publisher of the New Britain Herald, suggested Burritt as the namesake for
the library. Since the school opened in 1850, it always had a library area.
The dedication of Burritt Library gave the library an official name and place
at the school. In 1972, Burritt Library moved across campus to a building
built solely for library use.
Governor Ella Grasso was a patron of Burritt Library because her
husband was an alumnus. In 1965, when leaving the office of Secretary of
State of Connecticut, she gave her files to Burritt library. In 1972, when she
became a congresswoman, Mrs. Grasso established the library as a
depository for Federal Documents.
Librarian Interview Report
Burritt Library currently employs a permanent staff of forty-five
full and part-time employees.
Twenty-seven of the staff members are
librarians, eleven are library technicians, five are university assistants
and two work in administrative areas. There are also approximately
fifteen to thirty student workers at the library, depending on the time
of year and the budget. The whole staff works in fifteen different areas
of the library. They serve a campus of twelve thousand three hundred
and twenty full and part-time students. The budget is one point six
million dollars this year for materials. One million is allocated to print
materials. Sixty thousand is being allocated to online journals and
databases. The remaining allocation is not available for public access.
The governing person is the director of the library who reports to the
vice president of the university.
Librarian Interview Report
1. Type of Library
2. Name of Library
Elihu Burritt Library at Central Connecticut State University
3. City and State
New Britain, Connecticut
4. Name and Position of Interviewee
Ms. Debbie Herman-Digital Resources Librarian MLS
5. Date Interviewed
__x__ in person
____ by phone
November 7th 2005
6. What are your job responsibilities?
The primary job responsibility of this position is to maintain the online
presence at Burritt Library. Her job has many facets including: website
maintenance, liaison with campus computer technology department for the
library, and relating with the database vendors regarding information and
technology for the library. Ms. Herman is a general technology resource for
other librarians and staff in the library. She reports to the head of the
reference department. She spends a few hours weekly as a reference
librarian. Ms. Herman also teaches classes to undergraduate students.
Librarian Interview Report
7. What is your educational background?
Ms. Herman attended SUNY Fredonia, School of Music in Fredonia,
New York earning her bachelors in Music Theory. She earned her MLS at
SUNY Buffalo in Buffalo, New York. She is currently finishing a second
masters in American Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
8. Why did you decide to pursue library work?
Ms. Herman told me she went into library work because she always
loved visiting libraries.
9. How long have you worked in this library?
Ms. Herman has been in this position and worked at Burritt Library for
two years.
10. Have you worked in other libraries?
Ms. Herman worked at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New
York in the cataloging department while attending library school. After
graduation, she was a reference librarian at Eastman. Next, she worked at
the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Connecticut in the cataloging
department of the music library. She was also the systems librarian there.
Librarian Interview Report
11. What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
She enjoys the variety. Ms. Herman likes that with web redesign at
Burritt, she gets to see the fruits of her labor because she has regular
contact with the patrons. This occurs when she teaches classes and works a
few hours at the reference desk. At her last job, she was in an office
without contact with the patrons. It was hard to see if her work was well
received by them. She also has regular contact with the campus technology
department. Ms Herman has been told that she has improved relations for
the whole library.
12. What is the least enjoyable or the most challenging?
Ms. Herman does not like the red tape that goes with working for a
state institution. The budget constraints are difficult. At the University of
Hartford, since it was private, there were no problems with attending
conferences. At CCSU, since it is run by the State of Connecticut, there are
more forms to fill out. They are very complicated and have to be approved
through many channels. It has prevented her from attending as many
national conferences compared to her last job. A second complication is that
there are more people who work in this library so less spots are available for
the conferences.
Librarian Interview Report
13. What do you wish you had learned in your library education, that you did
not learn, that would have been helpful in what you do?
Ms. Herman has no complaints about her library education. There was
less technology back in 1995, when she graduated. She has had to learn the
technology on the job through the years. She tells me that her education
was fairly well rounded. She worked at the Eastman School of Music Library
at the same time as she attended school. She feels that she got plenty of
practical education there.
14. What have you found to be the most surprising about working in
She explains that the media keeps forecasting the demise of libraries
and librarians. She has found that not to be the case in her daily work. She
helps many undergraduates with basic searching skills. The free internet
access prediction by the media was another wrong prediction in her opinion.
There is a growing problem with online journals taking up library budgets all
over the country and that is a large part of her daily work.
Librarian Interview Report
15. Do you have opportunities for professional development? If yes, what
kinds? And are these activities funded by the library in any way?
Ms. Herman has opportunities through the Connecticut State Library
for professional development. It is available because it is close to the
campus and it does not cost too much for the library to send her.
16. How do you keep yourself informed of new developments/changes in
Ms. Herman keeps informed with library journals, Bloglines, and calls
from vendors who want her to buy their products for the library.
I have heard of Blog pages, what are Bloglines?
“Bloglines are news aggregators that are sent directly to my desktop;
Edward our systems librarian sends me great ones all the time.” She
17. If you could make one change in what you do, what would it be?
Ms. Herman feels that the librarians need greater advocacy.
“Librarians need to be promoted now more than ever so that the
public can see what a service our profession truly does give.
The work that CLA is doing with fighting the “Patriot Act” is
showing we are needed to the public.”
Librarian Interview Report
18. What would you say are the biggest challenges facing your library today?
Ms. Herman feels the biggest challenge facing her library is that it
needs to be promoted more by the administration to the upper
19. What would you say are your biggest accomplishments in your library
In her last job at the University of Hartford, she was in charge of a
system migration. It involved getting people on board so that she could get
approval for the project. This took a great deal of research and planning.
She made sure that all of the data was transferred smoothly. This project
took two years of her professional life. She felt it prepared her for her
current work at Burritt.
20. Generally, who are your primary library users?
The primary users are graduate students who are doing research and
the faculty of the university.
21. I am interested in cataloging what do you suggest?
Ms. Herman says she started her career in cataloging. She advised me
if you are a new graduate and can do cataloging, it is easier to find work.
She recommends taking cataloging courses. She thinks today less people are
interested in learning that skill making it more valuable.
BlackHolleyLibrarianInterview 10
Herman, D. MLS
Kozovich, J. MLS