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Finding Her Niche

Finding Her Niche

As a Ph.D. student at Cornell University, Lynne Stahl was immersed in research, studying and teaching. She enjoyed most components of the program, but the teaching aspect was not as rewarding as she had hoped, and she felt out of place as the leader in the classroom.

“I enjoyed working with students but felt uncomfortable performing the constant authority figure role that teaching required,” said Stahl.

“One summer, I participated in a digital humanities internship that the Cornell libraries were piloting and eventually realized that academic librarianship would enable me to continue with all of the things I loved about academia and fewer of the things I wasn’t partial to,” she said.

After completing her English degree at Cornell, Stahl moved to Portland, Oregon. She had ideas about pursuing librarianship, but also had reservations about the time and financial commitment. This would be a big step, especially following the intensity of the program she had just completed.

“After finishing my Ph.D., I moved out to Portland, Oregon, to take a gap year. I had gone straight through from B.A. to M.A. to Ph.D., so I wanted to be sure pursuing an MLS was really the right choice before diving in,” Stahl said.

Stahl researched her options in the Portland area and came across information about Emporia State’s master of library science degree and the School of Library and Information Management’s distance site in Portland. Originally from Lawrence, Kansas, Stahl was familiar with Emporia State University. In fact, she was quite surprised to learn of the site options for the MLS program.

“When I began researching programs and discovered that the only one in Portland was Emporia’s — and that Perri Parise, the program director, was herself a Cornell alum — it seemed pretty serendipitous,” she explained. “On top of that, I was drawn to the combined in-person/online learning aspect because I knew I would feel isolated in an exclusively online program. SLIM also has a big alumni network here in Portland that you’d be less likely to find with fully online programs.”

Everything aligned correctly, allowing Stahl to enroll in the program and begin her next steps toward an MLS degree.

Along with her coursework, Stahl has been able to maintain not one but two jobs as well. She works as a bilingual access services assistant for Multnomah County Library, as well as a graduate research assistant for Dr. Jinxuan (Jenny) Ma.

“It’s been a challenge to balance two jobs with coursework, but it really helps that I’m excited about where it’s all hopefully heading,” Stahl said. “Online learning was an adjustment — the flexibility is great, but it also requires a lot of self-discipline and accountability to get done the work that needs to get done.”

So far, Stahl has enjoyed the cohort-style program and the network that comes with it.

“By far, my favorite part of my SLIM experience has been meeting my classmates and learning about their library and life experiences and the amazing things many of them are already doing,” she said.

As a current student, she has high hope for the future with this team.

“I look forward to following them and, hopefully, staying in touch throughout their careers.”


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