Faculty Path to Library & Information Science: Dr. Shelfer

DSC_0136Dr. Shelfer’s journey into a career in Library and Information Science began at the young age of seven. Moving to a new school district in the third grade, Dr. Shelfer’s mother encouraged her to help in the library as a way to acclimate her, along with her brother and sister, to the new community. This is where she was introduced to school librarian, Mrs. Miriam Jay. The assistance that Miriam Jay provided while Dr. Shelfer attended school would be influential in her decision to go into the library science profession. In the sixth grade, having been given the assignment of memorizing one poem a week, Mrs. Jay, helped a young Dr. Shelfer in finding what she needed for her task. Another assignment in particular was a biography report. Loathing and dreading homework, like most children do, Dr. Shelfer went to Mrs. Jay for assistance. Mrs. Jay aided her in locating a biography for her assignment and Dr. Shelfer enjoyed it so much that she went back and ended up reading nearly every biography in the library.

Also instrumental throughout her path into library science was her mother who kept Dr. Shelfer motivated in her higher education years. Toward the conclusion of her time in high school, when Dr. Shelfer failed to register for classes that garnered her mother’s approval, her mother took her to Florida State University to speak to the administration. She was then able to receive early admission into the university. Though she would end up in the library science field, Dr. Shelfer first thought she wanted to major in Music as a harpist. Not wanting to compete for the few job opportunities that existed for music majors, she was recommended by her mother to major in History. When that did not work out, her mother then encouraged her to take library science courses since she had experience from her volunteer work at a library. Dr. Shelfer would then complete her undergraduate degree in Library Science.

Another visit to the administration office by her determined mother saw Dr. Shelfer enrolled in graduate school for Library Science. After completing the Master’s program, she thought she wanted to be a school librarian, much like her elementary librarian Mrs. Jay. However, after a time of working as a school librarian, she realized school librarianship was not her calling and she began to second-guess her decision to become a librarian. Going back to Florida State, she enrolled in the doctorate program in Humanities. After one particular assignment, she was told by one of her humanities professors that her work was not up to the standard of the work of the other students and that the degree may not be for her. Leaving the program, she later married, started a family, and moved to Fort Lauderdale where she was employed in varied companies. However, she found that her work as a librarian was always beneficial to the tasks assigned to her. Returning to Florida State, she was offered a temporary position at the Dirac Science Library. Dr. Shelfer was then told that the job would be secured if she took a class on database searching and the 90-day job turned into a 12-year stay.

While taking courses toward a doctorate in Library Science, Dr. Shelfer had the opportunity to renovate the science library. After her work there, she was then sent to the special collections department, where she continued her work in special librarianship. Though there was a time when she seriously reconsidered her decision to go into the library field, Dr. Shelfer realized her work as a librarian was useful in her work elsewhere, whether it was in finding data when working for an insurance company to researching furniture designs to be included in the science library. Through her years as a librarian, Dr. Shelfer has discovered that “every day you make a person’s life better” and it has been a challenging, yet enjoyable experience.

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