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One librarian’s journey from K-12 schools to a community college

My name is Jerrianne Queen and I currently serve as the Director of the Library at Cleveland Community College (CCC). How I came to work at CCC is actually a funny story. During the spring of 2013, I was working as a media specialist in the local school system. Having been at the school labeled “the best kept secret in Cleveland County” for three years, I was beginning to look forward to another career challenge.

I noticed, as I got older, that my attention span was getting shorter. This was quite a reverse from my first teaching job where I worked for 13 years. I saw a position advertised at Cleveland Community College for the instruction/reference librarian and decided to apply. While filling out what seemed like mountains of electronic forms, I gathered information I never thought I would need again — things like test scores, Praxis scores, and college transcripts.

I had worked for the school system for 21 years at that point and always thought I would end my career with them. Did the state even keep records from that long ago? I took the NTE (National Teachers’ Exam) way back in 1991; that test does not exist any longer! How would I find those scores? Did I hold onto that report when they mailed it out all those years ago? Had I left it stuffed in some long forgotten file at an old school? Finally, after much searching, my application was complete. I clicked the submit button and off it went through cyberspace.

A few weeks later, the Human Resources department contacted me to set up an interview. I had to prepare a library instruction lesson to demonstrate my teaching ability. I quickly went to work researching what college students learn in library instruction classes. I worked in an elementary school where I dressed up in costumes and helped get students excited about reading. We made pumpkin book characters and hungry caterpillars! We learned to use the online resources from NCWiseOwl. We had book talks about different genres and character parades. We talked about internet safety and information literacy. We learned to use the online catalog. We explored the Dewey Decimal System to be able to locate books. We learned where the different keys were on the keyboard! College students? Library instruction? What was I thinking?

I called Human Resources the day before my scheduled interview and told them that I was withdrawing my application. I had no idea what college students needed to learn. I had a job that I loved at the best kept secret in Cleveland County; I should not leave it for something I did not know that I would like. See, in my mind, I was going to get the CCC job, leave my sweet elementary school, and go to a job I may not enjoy.

A month or so later, I called the Dean of Learning Resources and explained that while I had a job that I loved, I was interested in learning more about what they did in the library at CCC. If they ever needed a part-time librarian, I would love to give it go. Two weeks passed before she called back and said they did need me as a part-time librarian. When could I come in to do the paper work?

One of the best things about this entire arrangement was that I was able to work with Jessica, who I always referred to as “the girl who got my job.” She was the one hired when I had withdrawn my application months earlier. She knew I referred to her in this manner and we laughed about it often. She was never just “Jessica” — she was always “Jessica, the girl who got my job.”

It was through “Jessica, the girl who got my job” and my dean that I learned about using LibGuides and making a library website. I learned about making online materials accessible to all learners; I learned how college library instruction worked. Lo and behold, I discovered that I loved working with college age students.

We learned how to use the online catalog, we explored the Library of Congress Classification System, we learned how to research using online resources from NCLIVE and other databases. We discussed internet safety and information literacy. With some more mature students, we taught about where keys are on keyboards and how to use a mouse. This was actually no different from working with my students at the public school, just a higher level.

I continued to work as a part-time librarian for two years, two nights a week and during the day over the summers. “Jessica, the girl who got my job” and I became good friends. One hot summer day in July 2015 as I came into work, “Jessica, the girl who got my job” met me in the hall and said, “I got the job in Alabama and I am leaving. Are you interested in this position? Let’s go talk to the dean.”

The rest, as they say, is history. I was able to apply for her job, that was really my job to begin with anyway, and I became the new Instruction/Reference Librarian at Cleveland Community College. I served in that position for two years, learning more and more every day about working with college age students. In July 2017, during a restructuring of the Learning Resources department due to the dean’s retirement, I applied for a new position and became the Director of the Library.

If you had told me when I was struggling to find all those old test scores and transcripts that I would be where I am today I would not have believed you. I work with truly amazing people who make working at Cleveland Community College a perfect way to continue, and one day finish, my career in education.

Jerrianne Queen

Jerrianne Queen has worked in education in Cleveland County for the past 27 years. While working for the public school system, she joined the Cleveland Community College team in 2013 as a part-time librarian, then full-time as the Instruction/Reference Librarian, and most recently as the Director of the Library. A native of Lawndale, NC, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree from East Carolina University and her Master of Library Science from Appalachian Sate University. Outside of work, Queen enjoys spending time with her family and animals on the farm and running on trails.