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Q&A with Michelle Wheeler, Head Academic Librarian

Michelle Wheeler, MSI, MA (’09) Head Academic Librarian at the Moustakas Johnson Library, is a welcoming and familiar face in our community. Michelle joined the MSP staff in 2007, then took a year off to complete the MA program. After graduating in 2009, Michelle returned to her work in the library as an invaluable resource to students and faculty alike. Below, she answers a few questions about her experiences at MSP.

What is your favorite part of being an Academic Librarian at MSP?

I enjoy helping students with research, especially topics that require some digging. I can usually think of at least 5 ways to search any topic. I will try all 5 ways just for the fun of it.

Many current students don’t realize that you completed the MA program at MSP. What inspired you to do the MA program? What were your biggest takeaways from that experience?

I marvel at the depth of knowledge available to anyone with the time to explore thoughtfully. Returning to school enabled me to step away from the work routine and explore some longstanding interests, knowing that it would serve me well when I returned to the librarian role.

I walked away from the MA experience better able to honor the experience of another, a true gift that has enhanced every aspect of my life.

As an Academic Librarian and an alum you are uniquely qualified to help our students! What are the most common questions you are asked in the library?

Most questions are fairly specific. How do I cite X in APA style? How do I find information about X?

It can be helpful to back up a step and explore related and broader topics. I have sources that I refer to as hidden because they are not easily found, but they are worthwhile. Even with APA style questions, it can be helpful to read the content in the style guide explaining the rationale behind the answer.  

What are the biggest challenges to maintaining the MSP library?

Interfaces and technology change so fast. Tips I provide today could be outdated tomorrow. Be prepared for some trial and error in everything you do.

What advice would you give to students on how best to prepare for a writing assignment?

I tell students to write what they know about a topic before searching for academic sources. It is important to record the place at which you start. It will be easier to honor your voice once you start looking at what others have to say.