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Shatha Baydoun, Faculty Librarian

I received tremendous support and guidance from the SIS faculty from the first class I took to the last one.

Shatha Baydoun is a faculty librarian in the Learning and Research Services Department at the University of Miami Libraries.

Baydoun recently co-authored a chapter titled "Collaborative and active engagement at the hemispheric university: Supporting ethnic studies through academic library outreach at University of Miami," in ACRL's 2021 publication Ethnic Studies in Academic and Research Libraries. More info about the book can be found here

Baydoun received a master’s degree in library and information science (MLIS) with a focus on special collections and metadata from Wayne State in 2018.   

Q. What was your path to librarianship? Did you always know you wanted to work in libraries, or did you find it as a second (or third) career?
I would say that my pathway to librarianship was indirect and was the result of personal circumstances and professional interests. I have always known that I wanted to work in academia and after getting my master's degree in history from the University of Michigan, I was a history instructor for 12 years at Henry Ford College (Dearborn, MI). I enjoyed teaching, but in 2017 I enrolled in Wayne State University for my second master’s degree. In 2018, I graduated from the SIS program and in 2019 I started my current position as a faculty librarian in the Learning and Research Services Department at the University of Miami Libraries (UML). I am currently the liaison to the Department of History, Modern Languages, and Literatures and I serve two programs: Islam & Islamic Studies and Native American and Global Indigenous Studies (NAGIS).   

Q. Tell us about the degree(s)/certificate(s) you graduated with and why you chose the area of focus that you did.  
. I have always gravitated towards universities and higher ed. My MLIS included courses on academic libraries, collection development, metadata and digital libraries. I knew I wanted to focus on academic libraries, however, in my second year, I took a class on digital libraries and it was a fantastic experience. I still have screenshots of the project I did for the class. I named my digital library Keepsakes from an Immigrants’ Trunk and I curated a list of 15 items, decided on the metadata schema, described the collection, and used the sandbox version of ContentDM. I enjoyed the personal nature of this assignment since the items in the collection detail my family’s journey to the United States as political asylees. I also learned about digital library workflows, metadata schemas, and information architectural systems.

Q. Why did you choose Wayne State’s School of Information Sciences? What was a highlight of your experience at SIS?
I am from the metro Detroit area and WSU is conveniently close to Dearborn. I also worked at the Arthur Neef Law Library and it was nice to take classes at night and work on campus during the day. The SIS program also offered online courses and I was able to take a combination of online and on-campus classes. Since I was a returning student and had been out of school for a while, I was initially apprehensive, but I received tremendous support and guidance from the SIS faculty from the first class I took to the last one. I felt supported and mentored not just academically but also professionally. I asked some faculty to review my CV and cover letter and they gave me constructive feedback. The other highlight of my WSU tenure was the Alternative Spring Break internship at OCLC (the Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit membership organization that promotes cooperation among libraries worldwide) in Dublin, Ohio. Even though it was a one-week internship, I got to visit the OCLC headquarters, worked with amazing librarians and interns, and experienced professional practice.

Q. How did the program prepare you for your current role at the University of Miami? 
When I first started my current position, I was apprehensive and I kept thinking I should have taken more classes. However, with time I discovered I had much to offer conceptually. In one of my SIS classes, the course assignment required the creation of a collection development policy. It was a good practice because when I took on my current position, I revised all of the policies in my assigned areas. I also created from scratch two new policies for Islam & Islamic Studies and Native American and Global Indigenous Studies. That was easy for me to do especially since I had done a similar assignment in class.

Q. What activities did you participate in as a student (student organizations, practicum, etc.)?
In addition to the Alternative Spring Break internship, I also participated in the ALA Student-to-Staff (S2S) program. It was a great opportunity for ALA Student Chapters to attend the Annual Conference. In exchange, I was required to “work” 12 hours on conference planning and logistics. I attended my first ALA conference and networked with other librarians. Incidentally, I also went to the ALA Open House/Job Fair and I met my current supervisor. She encouraged me to apply for the position I currently occupy.

Q. What do you love most about your current job?
I know this is a cliché, but I consider myself a lifelong learner and every day I learn something new. Because I serve two different departments and two programs, I am constantly helping faculty, undergraduates, and graduate students with research and I am always improving my research, reference, and instructional skill sets. I also like that I work at the University of Miami and live in the city of Miami, which is hemispheric and truly the gateway to the Americas. 

Q. What advice would you give current students? 
Find yourself a good mentor, or better yet, have multiple mentors. One of the things I learned early in my career was the art of asking for help. Also, have a clear and articulated sense of what you want from your mentor. For example, mentors can help you during your job search or they can help you understand subtle things like hidden curriculum and institutional culture. Remember that mentoring is an equal exchange built on trust, respect, and empathy.

There are also going to be lean times in your career where it seems you are at a standstill.  I have learned to appreciate the ride and know that an opportunity awaits me in the form of a university committee, community engagement or national service.