April 23, 2018

Ellen Druda | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Digital Developers

Ellen Druda

CURRENT POSITION

Digital Services Supervisor, Half Hollow Hills Community Library, Dix Hills, NY

DEGREE

MLS, Long Island University Palmer Library School, 1976

FOLLOW

@dblduchess on Twitter; Half Hollow Hills Community Library; In the Stacks podcast

Photo by Elliott Markowitz Designs

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A Helping Hand

A longtime LJ video reviewer (and 2004 Video Reviewer of the Year), Ellen Druda is best known on Long Island for her decades of work as an ever-adaptive, always innovative technology specialist. Although Druda earned her MLS in 1976, her career began in media, first at CBS News and then at the upstart MTV network. “I loved all the cameras and editing equipment. I remember feeling bristly at being the only female in the tech area!” she says.

After the birth of her daughter in the mid-1980s, Druda left television and began part-time work in libraries, spending off hours discovering the Listservs and forums of the early dial-up Internet and learning how to build websites. Her background turned out to be a perfect fit when Half Hollow Hills Community Library (HHHCL) needed a full-time librarian to develop its then-VHS collection and website. “My worlds collided! Lucky timing,” says Druda.

Nominator Christopher DeCristofaro, technology librarian for Sachem Public Library in nearby Holbrook, NY, says Druda soon became a local pioneer. “Ellen was probably the first on Long Island to come up with the idea of computer help by appointment” in the early 1990s, he recalls. Her one-on-one “Computer Tutor” assistance program was such a success that HHHCL hired additional staff to keep up with demand.

In the years since, Druda has continued to stay ahead of trends, pairing the library’s first blog, “Half Hollow Hills Memories,” with an HHHCL digitization project; testing near-field communication beacons to send targeted messages to the smartphones of library visitors; producing the library’s popular “In the Stacks” podcast; becoming a founding member of the local Melville Chamber of Commerce Technology and Innovation Committee; and much more.

Druda’s proactive approach to new technology is perhaps best exemplified by her recent work with e-NABLE, a global network of volunteers who use 3-D printers to build and donate prosthetic hands. Druda got in touch with the organization shortly after HHHCL bought its first 3-D printer in 2014, and with the help of the local community, especially teens,the library has produced more than 100 hands. In 2016 she was appointed a member of the e-NABLE Community Foundation’s education initiative, advising schools and public libraries on how to get started with similar projects.

Lately, Druda says, she’s been happy to see more women entering technology-related careers, and she’s eager to explore the role that augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will play in libraries.

This article was published in Library Journal's March 15, 2018 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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