Associate University Librarian for Public Services and Head of Reference & Instructional Services
Eli M. Oboler Library,
Idaho State University, Pocatello
MLS, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, 1993
Semenza must ration her fiction, especially graphic novels. She says: “I need a 12-step program—I’m addicted to reading. I read a lot of nonfiction because of the problem I have with fiction.”
Photo by Juli Hillebrant, ISU Photographic Services
Librarian Jenny Lynne Semenza gives a new meaning to the term road trip.
For her six-month sabbatical in 2008, Semenza drove to 26 academic libraries from Arizona to Alaska in search of excellence. She cherry-picked the best ideas and brought them back to her library. Subsequently, she implemented several changes, including repositioning the reference desk and adding short tutorials to improve service to students, she says, as well as enabling checkout of reference books and QR codes in the stacks.
She also learned that the key to innovation was getting out of the way.
“Without the sabbatical, I would be a roadblock,” Semenza says. “With the sabbatical, I realized that I need to just say ‘yes,’ unless it’s going to cost a lot of money.”
Even then, she will try to find funds, as she did when the library wanted to purchase ereaders to circulate.
Most recently, Semenza developed Learn Something Quick, a series of 15-minute workshops on topics like searching the catalog, using RSS feeds, and writing a literature review. Feedback led to adding more topics. Although attendance has been low at the sessions, Semenza says the workshops prompted faculty to see librarians as experts in emerging technology and to seek their help more frequently.
Road trip or no, Semenza drives change.