Today’s guest post comes to us from Wheaton College’s Buswell Library, where Taylor English alumnus Laura (Rizzo) Tomcik is Outreach Librarian. Thank you, Laura, for sharing your journey!
Even from a young age, I always knew I wanted to work in libraries. From checking out copious amounts of VHS tapes to working in a library throughout high school, I was set apart to be a librarian. What a blessing it was then that upon my arrival to Taylor University, I became a student worker at Zondervan library. My experience there placed me in the care of Christian librarians who guided me through not only what it means to be a librarian, but also what it means to be a Christian working in the field of librarianship. My mentors even went so far as to create an internship for me and another student, allowing us to work in and experience all the departments of a library–including the archives, circulation, serials, cataloging, and reference.
After graduating from Taylor University in 2007, I went unswervingly on to earn my Masters in Library and Information Science in 2009 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I soon learned that a person could take different paths when it comes to the type of librarian they want to be. You can work in an academic, public, or special library (e.g. business, medicine, or law) and choose to focus on instruction, children services, management, reference, technical services, archives, and more. Because of my experience in the public library and my internship at Taylor University, I had insight into the majority of these areas first hand. While this provided me with invaluable experience, I found that, as I completed my Masters in Library and Information Science, it became increasingly difficult to settle on one area to work.
Ultimately, I chose to work in academia as an Access Services Librarian at North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND. In this position, I was responsible for the Circulation department, the Interlibrary Loan department, six staff members, and fourteen student workers. After two years in that position, having gained experience in management and academia, an opportunity for a position closer to home became available.
That position—which I am currently blessed to fill—is as a faculty Outreach Librarian at Wheaton College’s Buswell Library. As the Outreach Librarian, I am responsible for coordinating all of the events and outreach efforts of the library. In addition, I am also responsible for helping at the reference desk, as well as being the subject librarian for the English department and the Business and Economics department. I was, and continue to be, incredibly thankful to be in a Christian liberal arts environment. Through this position, I have the opportunity to tie together all the experiences that have brought me this far, including my bachelor’s degree in English Literature, minor in Public Relations, and Masters of Library and Information Science. These are just a few of the steps God has brought me through which have prepared me for this opportunity and privilege.
Over time, it has become clear that my passion for learning, which was fostered during my liberal arts education at Taylor, has grown into a passion for librarianship. No longer storehouses that collect dusty volumes, libraries are gateways to information and knowledge—they empower communities with the opportunity for child development, personal growth, and self-advancement. I have always had a passion for learning, and through librarianship, I can enable students to discover and enjoy that passion as well.
My liberal arts education taught me to love learning; the English department taught me to ask questions, analyze information, and apply knowledge; and librarianship has given me the means to continue spreading this lifestyle of learning to new liberal arts students.
Laura Tomcik is the Outreach Librarian at Buswell Library, Wheaton College, Illinois. She received her master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and graduated from Taylor University, Indiana with a B.A. in English Literature and a minor in Public Relations. She currently lives in Yorkville, IL with her new husband Matthew Tomcik, where they enjoy mastering the art of creating pizza and navigating the intricacies of inflatable kayaks.