DeKalb graduate defies stereotypes of librarians - FW Daily News: Archives

DeKalb graduate defies stereotypes of librarians

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Posted: Sunday, March 14, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 4:47 pm, Tue Mar 12, 2013.

Kelly Kobiela is a librarian, but she doesn’t spend her days with checking out books and shushing people while wearing her hair in a bun and donning thick-rimmed glasses.

OK, she does have the glasses.

Kelly, a former Auburn resident and a 2005 DeKalb High School graduate, is on the cutting edge of library technology in her job as the systems librarian at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, N.H.

Essentially, she works as a liaison between the other librarians and the technical...

Kelly Kobiela is a librarian, but she doesn’t spend her days with checking out books and shushing people while wearing her hair in a bun and donning thick-rimmed glasses.

OK, she does have the glasses.

Kelly, a former Auburn resident and a 2005 DeKalb High School graduate, is on the cutting edge of library technology in her job as the systems librarian at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, N.H.

Essentially, she works as a liaison between the other librarians and the technical people at the college.

“I make sure the librarians get the technical things that they want done,” she said.

She updates and runs the library’s Web site and databases, and does the technical support for running the computer systems that students and professors use to search for books; librarians use to put materials on hold, complete interlibrary loans and search for materials; and student workers use to check materials in and out. She also tracks statistics about the library, including what was checked out, how many volumes of a material the library has and what materials are being used.

Kelly was made to be a librarian. I should know, because Kelly is my sister, and I spent years watching her as she decided that libraries are her passion.

It started way back when we were children, and Kelly set up our books into a library, complete with little cards in them so that she and I could check them out.

In middle school, she graduated from the Kobiela Lending Library to the Eckhart Public Library, where she loved working as a volunteer throughout middle school and high school.

“I’ve always been a big fan of patterns and organization, which works really well for libraries because you have to put everything in order and in classifications,” she said. “That was what I did. I knew I wanted to be a librarian.”

For college, Kelly chose Indiana University, which has one of the best library science programs in the country. In May 2008, she received her undergraduate degree in informatics, a field that studies way people and computers interact, and in December 2009 she received a master’s degree in library science.

The strong technical knowledge Kelly obtained while studying informatics helps her make sure that the library at Colby-Sawyer College is “on the cutting edge of all the technology things that are going on,” she said. However, she said that libraries, including the one at Colby-Sawyer College, try to strike a balance between traditional materials, such as books, and modern technology, such as online databases.

“It’s a challenge trying to balance that,” she said. “People want information anytime, anywhere, especially at a college. They want to do things in their dorm room in their pajamas at 2 a.m.”

She said physical books are still very important to libraries — the library at Colby-Sawyer College has a huge research collection — but in fields that change quickly, such as medicine and computer science, it’s good to have materials that can be updated quickly.

“Libraries aren’t going away any time soon,” she said. “There is nothing wrong with having books and computers. One doesn’t cancel out the other.”

In fact, libraries are a great place for people to learn and exchange ideas, she said.

“I’ve never seen a librarian tell a person to ‘shush,’” she said. “At the library, especially at a college library, we try to encourage students to come, and telling them not to have fun and to be quiet isn’t the way to do it. It’s a very inviting place. If you think of a librarian in a skirt and a bun telling people to ‘shush,’ you probably haven’t been in a library in 50 years.”

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