Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders: From NLM Associate Fellow to Health Sciences Library Director

Meet other library leaders who were once NLM associate fellows: Kris Alpi, Lori E. Harris, Stephen Kiyoi, Mellanye Lackey, Anne Linton, Alison E. Rollins, Catherine B. Soehner, and Tanner Wray.

Shannon Jones | 2002-2003 Associate

formal headshot of Shannon JonesCurrent position

Director of Libraries
Medical University of South Carolina

When did you become director?

I joined the faculty of the Medical University of South Carolina Libraries (MUSC) in January 2014, and I assumed the directorship in July 2015.

What was the career path that led to your current position?

Since 2004, I have held positions that have allowed me to increase my responsibilities in the areas of research support, teaching and learning, community engagement, and the recruitment and retention of librarians.

Prior to joining MUSC, I worked at the Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU, where I was responsible for providing vision, leadership, and strategic planning for initiatives and services supporting the educational, research, patient care, and service missions of the VCU’s Medical College of Virginia Campus. In that role, I lead a team of librarians who were responsible for providing research support and integrating information fluency skills into student and resident curricula in the disciplines of allied health professions, dentistry, medicine, nursing, and pharmacy, as well as supporting personnel at the VCU Health System. I developed a reputation for being an enthusiastic, energetic, creative, and valued team leader who could motivate people to action. As a team leader, I developed a track record for developing and cultivating a highly functioning team that delivered results. In addition to these attributes, I have successfully forged new and sustained existing relationships to raise the visibility of the library on campus. The result is that the library had successful long-standing partnerships with several campus units.

These same skills were also valuable when I assumed my first position at MUSC as assistant director for Program Development and Resource Integration, where I worked with staff to transform library service to the campus. I managed a diverse staff of librarians, technologists, and support staff. As a senior member of MUSC Library’s management team, I played an active role in strategic planning, policy formation, and decision-making relating to health sciences services, collections, space planning, and technologies. My experiences at both institutions prepared me to assume my current role as director.

My success as a librarian and leader did not happen overnight; it is the result of excellent mentors and career coaches, an action-oriented career development strategy/plan, executing my plan, and leaning into discomfort. Every professional development opportunity completed, advanced degree earned, leadership institute or program attended, coupled with the practical experience I have gained on the job strategically helped me advance towards my goal of becoming a library director and improving my leadership skills. Here are some of the development opportunities that helped me:

  • Minnesota Institute for Early Career Librarians from Traditionally Underrepresented Groups
  • Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Leadership and Career Development Program (LCDP)
  • National Library of Medicine/Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries Leadership Fellows Program
  • Harvard Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians
  • Working with an executive coach who assisted me with articulating areas of growth and development to become an effective leader at MUSC and within the library

Collectively, these experiences positioned me to assume leadership opportunities at MUSC and beyond.

What is your educational background? Or additional training?

  • BA in english, writing and editing, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, 1998
  • Master of Library Science, North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham, 2002
  • Associate Fellowship Program, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, 2002-2004
  • Master’s in information science, NCCU, 2004
  • Ed. in Adult Learning, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2012
  • Certificate of Advanced Study in Health Sciences Librarianship, University of Pittsburgh, 2013

What are your top three priorities now?

My top three priorities at this stage of my career are to:

  • Dream BIG: Lead my staff towards achieving our big, bold vision of making our library the place on campus where people come to do their best work.
  • BE the CHANGE: Serve as a positive role model for librarians who are following me in the profession, especially those from traditionally under-represented groups.
  • Love THY Self: Practice self-care by following the instructions that flight attendants give passengers before takeoff: Putting on my oxygen mask before helping others.

What did you learn as an Associate Fellow that you use in your position as director today?

The most significant information that I learned about during my Associate years was related to the essential role that the National Library of Medicine plays in supporting librarians and libraries of all types. The program exposed me to the people, resources, information products, and services that became mainstays when I assumed my first position as an instruction librarian.

previous page next page

2 thoughts on “Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders: From NLM Associate Fellow to Health Sciences Library Director

  1. Impressive education, indeed. And some ignorant people might say that being a librarian is nothing special. Truly impressive range of knowledge.

  2. Thank you so much for commenting, Robert. We agree with you! Please keep reading NLM in Focus. Later this month we’ll be featuring NLM associate fellows from 10 years ago.

Comments are closed.