Member Spotlight - Marielle McNeal

February 21, 2022

This week's spotlight is on Marielle McNeal. Marielle is a Director-at-Large on the ILA Executive Board. We asked Marielle to tell us a little bit about herself and to answer a few professional and amusing questions. Continue reading to find out more about Marielle. 

A little bit about Marielle

My older sister Shannon helped to spark my lifelong love for libraries and information seeking. There is a 15-year age gap between us, but she never complained about being responsible for watching over me during summer breaks.  She enrolled me in summer reading programs at the Chicago Public Library and introduced me to the idea of using the library to find information. My favorite memories include visiting the Harold Washington Library downtown and the Law Library at Loyola University where she was enrolled in classes.

My library career has primarily focused on academic librarianship and information literacy instruction. In 2020, I transitioned to medical librarianship and library management.

How did you get into libraries?

I worked at Eastern Illinois University’s Booth Library as an undergraduate work-study student.  I was assigned to the Reference Department and quickly became interested in learning how to conduct more effective searches and find credible sources for my own class assignments and research papers.  I learned a ton of value strategies from the librarians! By the end of my sophomore year, I found myself helping my friends navigate the library and search databases.

After completing a summer internship in the publishing industry, I was confident that librarianship was a better fit for me. Ironically, a few weeks after I was hired, my internship manager decided to quit her publishing job to pursue her MLIS.  I felt like it was sign that I was making the right career decision.

Best advice you've received since starting your career in libraries?

Comparison will steal your joy. Do not compare your career journey and accomplishments to other librarians. Focus on your own professional identity and the aspects of librarianship that interest you the most.

Any advice to newcomers working in libraries?

Venture out of your comfort zone and be willing to take on new tasks that you are unfamiliar with. I’ve learned that when you try new things, you are preparing yourself for your next role. In the process, you will also meet new library colleagues at trainings and conferences that will be an invaluable resource throughout your career. 

When and why did you become a member of ILA?

I have been a member off and on since graduate school.  I became a member of ILA to remain connected and informed about the amazing work happening at libraries across the state.

How has being a member of ILA helped you professionally?

Professional organizations like ILA have provided me with network opportunities and access to professional development. The annual conference and webinars offered throughout the year have expanded my knowledge on a variety of topics such as library law, advocacy, library management, and career specializations for librarians.

What is your proudest professional achievement to date?

I am really pleased with the work I accomplished as the liaison librarian for the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at North Park University from 2014-2020.  I was able to successfully create a programmatically integrated and scaffolded information literacy instruction series for undergraduate nursing, graduate nursing, and undergraduate health sciences programs. I also created a course-integrated research consultation service to assist nursing and health sciences students with creating focused research questions, developing search strategies, and identifying appropriate sources for research projects and assignments. I am especially proud of the strong relationships I was able to build with both faculty and students. 

The work I accomplished at North Park prepared me for my current role as a Medical Librarian at Edward Hines VA Hospital/ U.S Department of Veteran Affairs. In this role, I assist nurses, physicians, and other allied health professionals with finding evidence-based information to influence clinical decisions, improve quality of care, and help prevent adverse events in patient care.

Hardcover, paperback, e-reader, audiobook or all?

My kindle! I love paperback books, but I greatly appreciate the convenience of owning a Kindle.  I also really enjoy listening to audiobook memoirs that are read by the authors themselves.

Favorite author?

Octavia Butler.  She’s a visionary sci-fi author that foresaw many of issues facing our society today.   

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what five books would you bring with you to pass the time until being rescued?

  • Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • Just As I Am: A Memoir by Cicely Tyson and Michelle Burford
  • Kindred by Octavia Butler
  • The Complete Poetry by Maya Angelou
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Cat or Dog?

Dogs! Specifically, Poodles, Goldendoodles, Labradoodles and Cavapoos!

Favorite film, podcast, or television show?

I am a podcast fanatic. I am currently really into personal financial education podcasts like Brown Ambition, The His and Her Money Show, and Clever Girls Know. On Netflix, I am currently watching Queen Sugar – it’s an outstanding drama series by filmmaker Ava DuVernay.

One person you would like to meet, dead or alive, and why?

I would love to spend a day with Michelle Obama.  She embodies grace, intellect, strength, and perseverance.  I feel incredibly empowered by her life story and find it relatable to many aspects of my own life.  Oh, and who could forget her incredible sense of humor? We would never run out of things to talk and laugh about! 

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