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I Am MLA: Jessica Sender

Submitted by Jessica Sender, AHIP; 
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Institution: Michigan State University

Title: Librarian for College of Nursing

Brief description of what you do/your responsibilities at your institution:

I am the librarian for the College of Nursing and the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders. I work with students in all degree programs, from RN-BSN to DNP and PhD. I do a lot of instruction in both the undergraduate and graduate programs and provide a lot of research support, including supporting PhD students through their dissertation work. I also work closely with faculty and researchers and support our clinical nurse faculty and students in clinical settings.

Why is MLA important to you?

MLA is important to me for a number of reasons. It is our profession's professional home, and the network of librarians across the country and the world has been an excellent resource. I've enjoyed working with librarians at a variety of different institutions and organizations on committees over the years. I've also really valued my time as chair of both NAHRS (The Nursing and Allied Health Resources and Services Caucus) and the MLA DEI Committee. The work we've done as an organization to go from MLA Diversity and Inclusion Task Force to a standing committee has been really gratifying to watch and the opportunity to be involved and lead has been invaluable both personally and professionally. I've also been able to further develop my own knowledge, skills, and abilities based on the continuing education opportunities that MLA has provided, including expanding my capabilities in areas like research data management.

Why did you become a librarian?

I became a librarian because I liked the intersection between research and technology. I also have a Master’s in Education Technology, and I like the convergence between established research methodologies and how emerging (or established) technologies can inform our processes. I also really like how the nature of the work each day is different and I'm always learning something new. I like taking on new challenges and thinking in new ways, and I think the way our profession changes and evolves is gratifying.

What was your first library job or professional position?

My very first library job was in high school. I worked after school and in the summers at the local public library. My first professional position was at Guilford College, in Greensboro, North Carolina, as the Instructional Technology Librarian.

What is your advice to someone taking on a new role in leadership in MLA, or another capacity?

Don't be intimidated! MLA provides a lot of support and opportunities to ask questions and get help. I would also say to ask a lot of questions. MLA is a big organization with a long history, so understanding where you've been can inform where you want to go. People are always willing to help. I've found people are very receptive to being asked to help on a committee or in leadership, you just need to ask!                             

What is something you have on your "bucket list"?

Most of my bucket list includes traveling to new places. I'd like to do a cross-country road trip to Alaska and travel overseas more! In my spare time, I read a lot, and try to keep my plants alive through Michigan winters. I'm also a big fan of the show Top Chef, almost all of the Real Housewives franchises, and pretty much any show Bravo has. 

What do you do in your spare time, for fun, or to relax?

I recently got into Shetland, a UK crime TV drama set in the Shetland Islands. It was recommended to me by a fellow librarian and I've been binge-watching that. I also recently re-read one of my favorite books, Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. I'm also a big Taylor Swift fan, so saw the Eras Tour movie several times (in addition to actually getting to see her on tour!)

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