About this site, about me

Hi there!

I’m Jennifer. I’m passionate about connecting people with information that they care about, that makes their day or their week better somehow. That’s why I chose to be a librarian. I use this blog to talk about library and information: links about libraries and research, fascinating books, ways to find and share information that make the world better, and myths and misconceptions about what’s out there. I’ve got a particular interest in how web 2.0 technology and online interactions can work better for us.

I have ten years of experience in the library of an independent high school (grades 9-12) where I did everything from circulation and processing to reference, selection and weeding of materials, cataloging, reader’s advisory, instruction, and administrative work.

In August 2011, I moved from Minnesota (where I’d lived for 12 years) to Maine. I spent nearly four years as the Information Technology Librarian at the University of Maine at Farmington, before returning to Massachusetts, where I grew up.

I’ve been the Research Librarian at the Perkins School for the Blind since May 2015, and I love the combination of interesting reference and the diverse community I interact with (we get questions from around the world, and from everyone from a fourth grader learning about Helen Keller to highly specialised researchers.)

You can download the PDF version of my resume, and you can find more information about my professional development, my educational background, my technology background, and presentations I have given on their own pages. You can also read about the technical details behind this blog.

About me:

Why’d I pick the name ModernHypatia? (And why the whale?)

I’m a lifelong geek – though I’m far more interested in how people use technology than how the mechanical (or program) details work. I’ve used a computer since my parents got an Apple IIc in late 1984, and I’ve been on the web since after slightly webpages could have some other background color than light gray. (To be precise, the fall of 1994, when I got to college.)

It took me a while to decide to be a librarian, though. In large part, that’s because I was trying to decide if I wanted to do something different from my family. (My father was a theatre professor, author, and performer, my mother worked at our local library and considered getting her MLIS, my sister is a library science professor at the University of Wisconsin (and she has a blog, Elfshot), and my brother is a theatre critic and freelance writer, who also has a blog, New Haven Theater Jerk)

What I read:

It’s been described as “anything that sits still long enough”, which isn’t far from the truth – I read widely and extensively. (And quickly, which helps at times – reading quickly is actually how my parents met, so it runs in the family.) My pleasure reading is split pretty evenly between various kinds of lighter non-fiction and a number of genre works.

In non-fiction, I’m particularly fond of what are called microhistories – books focusing on a particular topic, like salt or color or cod or honey or chocolate. I’m also really fond of narrative non-fiction – books that tell the story of something, or follow a group of people through a particular experience or event – whether that’s climbing Everest, deep-water diving to discover a lost submarine from World War II, or some historical event, like John Snow’s experiments with the water pump in the London cholera epidemic of 1854.

In fiction, I read a lot of genre work, as I said – fantasy, science fiction, other speculative fiction, and mysteries. In the speculative fiction realm, I read for character and setting far more than plot. I particularly enjoy urban fantasy that explores the numinous world in a modern setting – works like Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks or Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin (both writers with strong Minneapolis ties), and much of Charles de Lint’s work.

In mysteries, I’ve got a great fondness for historical mysteries – something that lets me explore the world of the story, at the same time as an interesting story and events. Laurie King’s Mary Russell books are particular favorites, as are Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs books (both are set in and after World War I.) I’ve long loved the Elizabeth Peters Amelia Peabody series (set in the late 19th and early 20th century, mostly around Egyptian archaeological explorations. And I recently discovered Alan Gordon’s Fool’s Guild series, which combine my beloved medieval period with a number of fascinating locations (Constantinople, various French cities, Denmark, and so on.)

Other interests:

A lot of my non-work time goes to my religious life, which I mostly keep distinct from my professional life. Other than that, particular interests include spinning (turning fiber into yarn), playing the folk harp, and spending time online.

I’ve been on the ‘Net since I got to college in 1994, and have a particular interest in how people use technology to connect in deeper and meaningful ways. Not that I don’t have fun, too – I’m a casual gamer, I spend a bunch of time around project that make me happy, and I’ve been part of a massive transformative works project that I did a presentation about in spring of 2013.

Hi, I’m Jen

Librarian, infovore, and general geek, likely to write comments about books, link collections, and other thoughts related to how we find, use, and take joy in information.

I'm the Research Librarian at the Perkins School for the Blind

More about my job and a day in the life

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