Library offers real-world experience to students and volunteers

Shannon Titas works the information desk as part of her practicum.

Libraries serve many purposes, and one mission is to make people more knowledgeable. Using books, Internet resources and databases, one can learn about the world in just about any capacity, whether it is watching Korean music videos or digging into local history. The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library takes that mission to another level as a place for library science students, young interns, and volunteers to gain job experience and learn new skills on the job.

Shannon Titas is a graduate student at Kent State University working on her Masters of Library and Information Science degree, the professional degree required to become a librarian. As part of her degree, she is doing her practicum at the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library. A practicum is an internship or course of study designed to give a student supervised practical experience working in his or her specific field of study.

Titas has been working primarily with Amy Marshalek, an adult services librarian at the Lee Road Library, but has explored other departments including collection services and youth services.

When asked what she found most interesting, Titas talked about the different talents of the library staff members. “Everyone on staff comes from such diverse backgrounds. It’s awesome how many interesting skills and talents people have, and that they are put to use here at the library.”

Like current staff members, Titas also comes from a background with a unique academic focus. She was a dance major at Ohio University, and has worked the last 16 years as a performer, teacher and choreographer. Her interest in public librarianship actually began when she was teaching dance at Hiram College.

“When working with dance students, I ended up helping them through the research aspects of the college coursework and found that I enjoyed that part of the job a lot. Then when I had my own children, I rediscovered the magic of public libraries as a place to have really meaningful experiences with my children.”

On the volunteer side, there is Callie Swaim-Fox, a sophomore at Cleveland Heights High School, who volunteers once a week in the administrative office at the Lee Road Library.

“I've always considered the library a second home, and it has been such an incredible experience,” said Swaim-Fox. “I've gotten to see all the work put into the library I've been using for years. The energy and spirit of all the people there is exciting and life-giving and getting to volunteer has been a really unique and fun experience.”

To learn more about volunteering or the Library Experience Program, contact Heather Howiler at the Lee Road Library at 216-932-3600 or

Julia Murphy

Julia Murphy is the marketing assistant for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 5:51 PM, 12.01.2014