From student to librarian

By PATRICIA PIXLER, Student Reporter

Photo by Patricia Pixler
Photo by Patricia Pixler

She used to be the first person you saw in the library, sitting at the first desk you encountered. She’d smile and ask you how you were today, eager to talk or tell you a story. If there was a problem or question you had, she’d be right there to assist you. If the student worker was unavailable, she would happily check your library materials for you.

Shawna Gilbert has been a mainstay at the Northwestern Oklahoma State University-Alva campus since she was an undergraduate. Originally from Enid, Gilbert has called Northwestern and Alva home for nearly ten years. An alumnus of 2013, Gilbert graduated with a Bachelors of Arts degree in General Studies. After graduation, her experience as a Student Librarian Assistant in the NWOSU library allowed her to take the full-time position of Office and Technology Assistant in the library. It was in that position she stayed until January 2017, when she became the Access Services Librarian.

Asked why she wanted to be a librarian, Gilbert says, “I enjoyed my time at Northwestern, especially in the library. Then getting the Office and Technology job here, Northwestern and the library felt like a second home to me. The relationships I was able to build with Mrs. Jefferies and Mrs. Leaper gave me that much more love for the library.”

As Access Services Librarian, Gilbert has gained additional responsibilities. She keeps an eye on all the books located in the collection of the library as well as handles all interlibrary loans and patron accounts. Any student with problems is now referred to Gilbert.

Gilbert adds “I’m a people person. I like helping people and I want to see students come in and succeed. The library is one place that can help them, give them information they help them succeed in their classes.”

Though Gilbert has only been the Access Services Librarian since the beginning of the semester, everyone around campus will have noticed she stopped occupying the front desk during the Fall 2016 semester. The retirement of previous Access Services Librarian Verna Graybill opened up both a position and an office for Gilbert.

When asked why she decided to take the opportunity, Gilbert says it made sense to move into the position. It allowed her to stay at Northwestern, which she loves, so she jumped on the opportunity.

While Gilbert moved to her new office and prepared for her new role, the library hired Kenneth Prigmore to take over Gilbert’s position as Office and Technology Assistant. Gilbert assisted in Prigmore’s training, while also hiring and training new student workers, dealing with the flux of the library’s structuring after the retirement of Graybill, as well as Interloan Librarian Pam Davidson, and attending graduate school full-time.

Gilbert is a student at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas, obtaining a Masters in Library Science. The program is through distance learning, with Gilbert only required to travel to Emporia a few times each semester. This allows her to continue to live and work in Alva and gain practical experience working in the NWOSU library. Gilbert will finish the program during the summer, allowing her to shift all her focus on her librarianship career.

“I love this position I’m in now and I’m looking forward to being part of the Northwestern family still.”

Beyond the library, Gilbert continues to be a mainstay at NWOSU games, where she plays in the Alumni Band. She can also be found at Art Society events, Graceful Art events, and all around Alva showing her support for Northwestern. A true ranger, Gilbert cannot imagine being anywhere else.