Snapshot: Andrea Davis
By Katharine Dunn, Dean's Editorial Fellow
Andrea Davis doesn’t like to put herself (or anyone else) in a box, which explains why she’s a perfect fit as leader of the student chapter of the Special Libraries Association at GSLIS. Like the SLA, Davis is interested in pushing the boundaries of what “librarian” means. “We need to find creative ways to market ourselves,” she says. “Our skills are transferable. You can have librarian skills and not be called a librarian. For me it’s more that I love doing research, being curious, and helping people find answers.” In her final semester before
graduating in May, Davis will help organize several tours and the SLA’s Day on the Job. Look for the group’s flyers on the second floor of One Palace Road.
You’re sitting in on LIS 422, Literacy and Services to
Special Populations: Issues and Responses this
semester. Why did you decide to audit it?
Shelley Quezada, who has lived in Brazil and Mexico, has a long, illustrious history of working for underserved populations, like the homeless or people with different levels of literacy or special needs. These are all people whom libraries serve, but these issues aren’t necessarily addressed in most classes. It’s a nice way to wrap up my Simmons time, and it gets me fired up again to go out and save the world, which is what I initially wanted to do.source — we don’t need enterprise versions because open source ones are well tested. But they may not fit exactly into our curriculum, so we may need to make changes to them. We may want to add new features.
Is that why you came to library school?
It’s basically why I decided to go back to school — to at least make it somewhat better, to do what I can to improve it. I’m not a superhero.
What are some of the ways that you want to save the world?
What I’d like to do is provide information services to those who maybe can’t read or don’t have the availability of such services. Imagine kind of a reference desk on wheels or water. I’m also intrigued by the relationship between information access and innovative technological mashups.
Is there a model out there for what you want to do?
That’s what I’m going to be looking at in evaluation (LIS 403) and in LIS 422. I’ve heard of interesting international programs. A lot of them are based on literacy as opposed to being a help desk in the middle of the desert or on a beach. We constrict libraries to being within walls and with library cards and desks and shelves. These are important, but people’s curiosity and
information needs don’t stop there.
Whom are you most interested in working with?
Certainly children, and those who are on the fringes of society. For example, when I was living in Central America or when I visited Thailand and the Philippines, there were a lot of laborers working really hard to put their children through school. But their children are learning only what the teachers want them to learn, and they might not be addressing the learning tools to
find out about labor rights, or how to get fair prices for the work they perform, or sanitation needs.
"We constrict libraries to being within walls and with library cards and desks and shelves. These are important, but people’s curiosity and information needs don’t stop there.”
Is working internationally part of your long-term plan?
Definitely. I’m really curious about Brazil. They have some great Internet policies. They’re very forward thinking in terms of access and they have forgiving intellectual property rules and regulations. This allows for a lot more collaboration and more creative usage of materials. I haven’t studied Brazil enough; I’m leaving it as the fun thing I can look into when I graduate and
have time to read more. It’s on the list.
So far you want to learn more about Brazil and save the world. What else is on your list for when you graduate?
Get a job. If I can get one before I graduate that’s even better. I have a document dump bucket where, when I see an interesting job, I bookmark it or download it. What I’m hoping is that I can just spread them all out on the table and see what the common theme is, because I’m interested in so many things.
What are your duties as president of Special Libraries Association at GSLIS?
As a student group, we try to address what’s out there and say, Let’s get creative about our profession. There are federal jobs, military, tech, usability, corporate, medical, law. And then all the people who work in information centers, whose jobs have titles that aren’t “librarian.” As students, we have the perfect opportunity to explore these options. As president, I help arrange tours and plan events around special libraries. I have also been working on building a strong liaison with the local Boston Chapter of SLA to increase student
What was your job with the Sonoma County Wine Library?
I grew up in Healdsburg, and that’s the wine basket in California. It’s the better Napa, the lesser-known Napa. There’s a special wine collection in the Healdsburg branch of the public library. They’ve accumulated a massive special library, including the first account of American wine growing by an Italian in the 16th century, books on viticulture [study of wine making], pest
control, scientific guides, fiction, DVDs about wine making, and an oral history collection that captures histories of the first wine growers in the area.
The library also got a reel-to-reel film collection from the California Wine Institute. They’re promotional films showing California trying to make its mark in the 1960s and ’70s. They include amazing footage of Vincent Price, E.M. Forster, Zsa Zsa Gabor, all talking about California wine. But they were getting
brittle and needed preservation. So my project involved watching all the films on a 16-mm projector for about three months. Then I picked out the most interesting and best-condition films, and we sought out a lab to digitize them. Now they’re on DVD, and they circulate to patrons. I also made a short documentary documenting the process for fundraising purposes.
Are you a wine lover?
I’m an amateur cognoscente. That’s one of the neat things about being involved with the Wine Librarians Association, learning about how many different areas of wine study are out there.
How many people are in the WLA?
About 20; it’s small. We’re trying to make that number bigger. A majority are from California, with a few Canadian and East Coast members. Right now there’s a growing wine region on the American East Coast. The WLA is interested in recruiting more wine librarians/journalists/scholars to join.
Are you still involved with WLA?
I’m trying to get their website going. I worked on it for LIS 467 (Web Development and Information Architecture). I tried to do a project where I built it into Wordpress, so we didn’t need an official web master. I’m still tweaking it. I also want to use Facebook and Linked In to entice new members.
Do you ever find it overwhelming, the amount of things you’re
It should be. If I could clone myself that would be great. This is what I’m thinking I want to do: Find a cool technology organization that I can be busy with six or eight months a year, and then take four months of the year to work on the other projects that allow me to travel and be involved outside the U.S. My other idea is, I want to have a live-aboard scuba boat that’s also a mobile library, a reference desk on water. It just needs to get funded somehow.
Interview by Katharine Dunn