Jennie Thomas, OhioLINK’s Electronic Serials Clerk, earned her bachelor’s degree from Otterbein University where she double majored in history and government, and education – and her master’s in library science from Kent State University.
Jennie, who came out of retirement to join OhioLINK, previously worked as a public services librarian at The Athenaeum of Ohio, a Catholic seminary in Cincinnati. She also held two positions at the Environmental Protection Agency in Cincinnati as its serials librarian and interlibrary loan librarian.
Jennie recently talked to OhioLINK about the changes she’s witnessed in librarianship, her current library position, and her joys of being a grandmother.
How long have you been with OhioLINK?
I joined about 18 months ago.
What made you decide to come back to work at OhioLINK after retirement?
When my family and I moved to Columbus, I was looking for a part-time job. I had served on the OhioLINK Intercampus Services Committee (ICS) twice when I worked at The Athenaeum of Ohio and was familiar with some of the staff at OhioLINK, especially Anita Cook. Anita was the staff representative to the ICS committee, and I had always thought I would like to work with her, so when I saw the job posted I decided to apply.
What are your responsibilities as OhioLINK’s electronic serials clerk?
I ensure that we receive all of the electronic journals we were expecting. If we didn’t get something, I work with the publisher to get the materials. It’s a part-time position, so I work about 25 hours a week and mostly from home.
What led you to this profession?
I think I’ve always wanted to be a librarian. I worked in my high school library, my college library, and when my husband was in a seminary I worked in the seminary library. When I went to work for the Environmental Protection Agency in Cincinnati I learned that they offered a tuition reimbursement for employees who wanted to go back to school. They had a program with Kent State University, so I went ahead and got my masters degree in library science. I’m also an optician, but that field didn’t interest me as much as library science.
Since you began as a librarian, what kind of changes have you seen? What surprised you the most?
People often think that librarians are set in their ways, but I have always found them to be on the forefront of change. When I started in libraries I was using the card catalog system and computerization was just beginning. In fact, one of my favorite jobs was filing cards in the card catalog. The advent of computer use in libraries has introduced so many resources for students, and it has revolutionized research. I was pleasantly surprised how quickly librarians adapted to the change from physical catalogs to digital access. I actually purchased a card catalog from The Athenaeum of Ohio and made a bench out of it.
What’s something about yourself that might surprise people?
I like library work so much I volunteer at my grandson’s elementary library in Westerville.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I would say that raising my two children and my grandson have been my greatest accomplishments. I still help take care of my eight-year-old grandson part time. I try to help him in school so he doesn’t fall behind and I also spend a lot of time reading with him so he gains a love for books.
I’m also very proud of myself for getting my masters degree in library science, which I finished in 2001 after two years of online coursework.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I read, take care of a small garden and spend time with my grandson. I read a lot of mystery books, and since my husband is a minister, I read a lot of theology. When I take care of my grandson in the summer time we go swimming, and I’m also getting him interested in gardening. We just planted a bunch of flowers in his play area.
Do you have a role model? If so, who is it?
Eleanor Roosevelt. I really like how interested she was in her generation and how interested she was in social issues that still impact society today. She was a real leader.