Member of the Month

Member of the Month: January, 2022

Portrait of Jessica Bennett smiling in a yellow blazer

The DOLS Member of the Month initiative started in 2018 as a way to highlight the diverse members of DOLS and their contributions to the distance and online library community.

This month, we highlight Jessica Bennett, E Learning/Research & Instruction Librarian at Missouri State University (and co-chair of the DOLS Membership, Events, and Fundraising Committee!).

How long have you been a DOLS member?
3 years

Where do you work, and what do you do there?
I am an E Learning/Research & Instruction Librarian at Missouri State University.

What is unique about your institution, and how does your work as a distance and online services librarian support the mission?
Missouri State is known for it’s Public Affairs Mission, characterized by three broad pillars: ethical leadership, cultural competence, and community engagement. My work as an e learning librarian supports all three of these pillars. I am the go-to person in the library for online and distance librarianship, offering documentation for various processes, training, and videos. I also ensure that all departments and programs have access to instructional materials that are accessible and adhere to UDL. To serve the broader community, I have created tutorial videos for our library YouTube channel that are available to anyone seeking research skills. The evaluating materials and websites videos are especially useful for all.

How do you bridge the distance with online and distance learners? What’s one way you create community for your distance learners?
Whenever possible I love to connect with video. Being able to see each other’s faces is so valuable to the learning experience. I can read body language and other cues to assess the emotional and mental engagement of the student(s), which helps me immensely in my teaching. And the student(s) can see me, a real, live librarian who is there to help them. Not just a disembodied voice. I know video is not always possible, so I do have a profile photo uploaded in my video platforms to provide an image in that instance. I also like to use Google Jamboards as an informal way to gage pre and post virtual instruction session.

How do you recharge your knowledge of distance and online library services?
I love the DLS Conference and DOLS events! The DOLS Discussion Group events, ‘Ask the Room’, were especially helpful at the start of the pandemic.

What Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives are you and your institution focusing on?
We are focused on retention of BIPOC and traditionally marginalized populations. The library works with many groups on campus to be involved with these efforts including TRIO, Veteran Student Services, Adult Student Services, first generation students, international students, etc.

What’s something fun you’re doing now (outside of work!)
I have a Van Gogh point-by-numbers painting I am working on. Cafe de nuit!

What are you reading right now?
I’m reading the latest J.D. Robb novel. It’s a murder mystery series set in the future. My fun ready is all about escaping reality!

What else would you like us to share about you?
I foster baby kittens several times a year, and it’s one of my favorite things! I usually have a mama cat with babies, but have had a group or orphaned kittens. If I won the lottery and didn’t have to work, fostering would be my full time job!

If you are interested in being or nominating a DOLS Member of the Month, please fill out this brief nomination/sign up form. (Note: If you don’t have a Google account, please email DOLS Membership Chair Jessica Bennett to submit your materials.)