For Head of Information Literacy and Communication Arts Librarian Megan Heuer, there is no such thing as a typical. She spends her time working with professors and students in the communication arts majors, managing the other librarians in Fondren Library, and working with the guides team.
Heuer got her start as a librarian at the age of 35, but it was love at first page. “As soon as I started library school, I just fell in love with it; I was one of those super library nerds. I just loved library school,” she said.
Her first job out of library school was at a school of only 300 students. “It was a tiny library in a tiny school, so I ran everything,” she said. “I did everything for that library; I had my finger on everything sort of thing. I got to experience all of librarianship at once, and probably my favorite part of that was working with students and faculty and thinking about education. I’m a naturally curious person, and I love to learn, so the educational side of librarianship is a very natural fit for me.”
One part of her job is managing the Fondren librarians. “Managing is helping somebody; thinking about what’s going on in their job and what goals do they have; and trying to remove the barriers that they have,” she said. “Sometimes it’s just listening to [them] and being empathetic or making suggestions or helping them connect with people who could help with any challenges that they have. It’s talking through more kind of areas of personal development they might want to take on or what more they should take on.”
As a subject librarian, Heuer knows what her fellow librarians go through.
“I think [being a subject librarian while being the other subject librarians’ manager] is really important because I have to be able to walk the walk. I feel like it’s really important because it gives me empathy for what I’m doing,” she said. “In any organization, the higher up you go, the farther away you are from the front line. I would say I am in the middle. I am that person who is seeing both sides of the coin. I see like things from the management side, but I am on the front lines as well. And that is very important to me personally that I do that. And I’m not ready to give up working with students and faculty directly, so I don’t want to give that part up.”
Another part of her job is heading the information literacy efforts. Information literacy is important on a college campus, and Heuer defines it as “the ability to use information for whatever needs that you have. It’s a set of understandings about information use, and those sets of understandings really are dependent on the context of how you’re using [the information].”
Information literacy isn’t limited to academic research papers, though. For Heuer, she says It touches all parts of your life.
“[It’s] not just how do you find information for paper or knowing what a scholarly article is and how to recognize it,” she said. “That’s sort of the traditional way [of thinking about information literacy], but how do I evaluate information that I’m using for researching things for my personal health? Or how do I think about the news media?”
Heuer has designed workshops on fake and biased news in the past. She has noticed trends in how society consumes media and finds this problematic. “I think the biggest problem is that the way we consume news is very casual and quick,” she said. “As you’re cycling through your newsfeed on social media, you’re flipping through, and you see something that catches your eye. Take the time to investigate or dig down a little bit. Try to find a story from the other from another perspective or try to find a story that’s from a different kind of publication than you usually read. Just think through and apply analytical skills to what you’re reading. But I think a lot of us don’t take the time to do that because we’re inundated with all this information all the time. But just slow down and really think about what you’re looking at.”
Interview conducted by Author Wren Lee, SMU ’22 Creative Computation and Film and Media Arts Pre-Major and Fondren Library Marketing Department Student Assistant