From Student Employee to Dean of Libraries

Karen Estlund


I developed my own classification system for my family’s home VHS collection when I was 7. It was a rudimentary but earnest system of stickers and numbers, cataloged in a binder according to genre and year. There were various codes for critical details, such as the quality of commercials for movies recorded off the TV. I felt the drive to organize information for easy access.

The week before I started as an undergraduate student at Reed College, I wandered into the library for an interview with the cataloging department for a work-study position. I was so nervous, but was hoping that the volunteer community work I had done in high school cataloging books, which I had typed on cards, would give me a leg up. They were so impressed that I knew what a card catalog was that I was hired! I spent the next four years working in the library as a work-study student and two years after graduation as a library staff member. That’s when I decided to go to graduate school and earn a Master of Library and Information Science.
As a librarian, I have had the opportunity to work with student employees in all my positions. These students have taken the skills of customer service, problem-solving, metadata, user experience, and communication, and graduated to careers in libraries, museums, public advocacy groups, and national Fortune 500 companies.

As a college student, I found my calling in libraries, and I also found a community that supported overall student success, retention, and skills for postgraduate employment.

In this issue of Stay Connected, we have gathered stories from amazing Colorado State University Libraries student workers. I hope you enjoy reading them, as much as I did, and can support our continued efforts to support students in many different ways, including employment.