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Lauren Jensen rewarded for dedication to libraries

October 8, 2010

Monmouth College librarian Lauren Jensen won the 2010 Crosman Memorial Award, which was presented by the Illinois Library Association. The award is presented in memory of Alex Crosman, who was a former director of the Peoria Public Library.

According to Jensen, Crosman did a lot of work with new professionals to the library field. Professionals who have been in the field for over ten years plan activities, discussions and mentor programs for younger professionals to improve involvement and leadership.

Jensen said this is important because statistics show that nearly half of all current librarians will be ready to retire within the next 10 to 15 years and a new group of librarians will have to be ready to step up and take on leadership skills.

As a result, Jensen said the award is meant to recognize the achievements of those who are relatively new to the profession (less than 10 years) that have been very active in the field within a relatively short period of time since receiving their degree.

Jensen said she believe she won this award because of her work in the national and state levels, in addition to her writings for magazines and guest blogging spots for other library organizations.

Jensen also helps produce active learning assignments and helped create a Knitting and Crochet Club at the Warren County Public Library.

“It showed that I was dedicated to libraries and showing people how important they are to a community,” Jensen said. “There are a lot of libraries today that are focusing on making their libraries relevant by reaching out to the users where they are.”

Jensen said one public library had a large population of younger children and they put on a story-telling festival.

“Those types of things are examples of people recognizing the needs of their community and then adjusting their library’s direction and goals to meet the needs of the patriots of their community,” Jensen said.

According to Jensen, the Monmouth College librarians are always attempting to recognize the needs of students.

An example is the library learning from a survey that students wanted more fun reading material in the library and library subscribed to numerous popular newspapers that the students voted on.

Jensen said her main goal at the college was making the library and its resources more accessible to students.

“Everything [in a library] is ordered and in a very specific system and a lot of people don’t always understand the full system and organization,” Jensen said.

Jensen said she believes she can help accomplish this goal through smaller 15 minute sessions instead of having one session lasting two hours.

“You would just give them what they need at the time,” Jensen said. “A freshman who is working on their Communication 101 speech doesn’t need thirty journal articles on a topic. We could match that information need with what’s current and relevant in their lives.”

Jensen said another idea she would like to see in the future is a formal information literacy class that would be worth 1 or 2 credits. Jensen said the class would focus on information needs and how to find and evaluate that information.

“I think it would give students that slow introduction to information over time instead of compressing everything in one to two library visits at the beginning of the semester when students have so much other stuff going on,” Jensen said.

However, Jensen said implementing this would be difficult and require a lot of time that the librarians use doing their other jobs.

Jensen said there is a large percentage of people that believe librarians just sit in the library reading all day while checking books out.

However, she stressed that it is much more complicated than that because librarians must go through a formal program and receive a masters in library and information science. She also said librarians are constantly trying to improve how information is organized and made accessible.

“I think there are a lot of people who undervalue the library and librarians as a resource,” Jensen said. “The library provides such a wide range of services, which are all free, that you just can’t get anywhere else.”

BY DEREK KEIST
Features Editor

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