Visiting Librarians Train for Research Library Roles

Coming from a small undergraduate school, Fisk University in Tennessee, and a master's program at San Jose State University, librarian Joan Lee was a bit overwhelmed by Berkeley's size when she arrived here in September.

But now that she knows her way around the Earth Sciences Library in McCone Hall, Lee has found Berkeley to be a big but friendly place where she can hone the technological skills that are a necessary part of library science today.

Lee is one of four visiting librarians training at Berkeley to become academic research librarians in scientific disciplines. Lee is working with librarian Vivienne Roumani-Denn.

The other three are Helen Gutierrez, training in the Biosciences Library with Beth Weil; Alice Kawakami in the Chemistry Library with Laura Osegueda; and Naheed Zaheer working with Camille Wanat in the Engineering Library.

All four are members of minority groups that are "underrepresented" among librarians working in science libraries, says Janice H. Burrows, director for library human resources. The campus won a $125,000 grant from the US Department of Education to bring the quartet to campus for a nine-month training institute.

Gutierrez' master's in library science is from the University of Arizona, Zaheer's is from Berkeley, and Kawakami's is from UCLA.

Zaheer is happy to continue her library work at Berkeley. "It's an excellent institute," she says.

Kawakami's path to the institute was slightly more roundabout. Her undergraduate degree was in anthropology but after earning her master's, she became director of consumer health information for the Los Angeles County Library.

The program at Berkeley gives her a chance to return to her first love. She now plans to make a career as a science librarian.


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