Lauren Campbell Hildebrandt, a lifelong resident of Dearborn, chose CMU because it was “not too far, not too close” to home. Lauren also thought CMU’s size would offer all the traditional college experiences and opportunities to try new things, but not be overwhelming.
In high school, Lauren worked as a page at the Dearborn Public Library, but she didn’t think about librarianship as a potential career until her first semester of college. Initially, Lauren planned to become a social worker because she likes helping people. However, after shadowing an actual social worker for an assignment in SW 100, Lauren realized she wasn’t cut out for the field. That led to her lightbulb moment and her decision to become a librarian. She applied for a student assistant position in the University Library’s Reference Department and was hired in Spring 2005.
Lauren chose English and History as her majors because those were subjects that she enjoyed and succeeded in in high school. She also thought a degree in English would help her with librarian responsibilities such as helping people pick which book to read next. At the Reference Desk, Lauren was exposed to the responsibilities that academic librarians have, and she enjoyed working with both librarians and her fellow student employees. She was also happy to sometimes have opportunity to complete homework while at work. Lauren remained a library student employee until she graduated from CMU in 2008.
Lauren went directly onto Wayne State University’s Library and Information Science Program (LISP). Back in metro Detroit, she applied for jobs that required a bachelor’s degree; however, it was the height of the Great Recession, so Lauren ended up returning to the Dearborn Public Library as a page. She eventually picked up an additional part-time job in the LISP office.
Returning to her old stomping ground proved to be serendipitous for Lauren. When she graduated from Wayne State, she was offered a librarian position at the main branch of the Dearborn Public Library. Lauren noted that public libraries—especially in urban areas—serve a far wider variety of patrons and have different resources than academic libraries do. Public libraries, for example, remain very much print driven: Whereas academic libraries regularly cancel print subscriptions in favor of electronic access to newspapers and journals, public libraries still maintain print subscriptions to those sources. Lauren has also realized that anything you know or learn in life may come in handy as a public librarian. She has also learned about and done more marketing of library services and programs than she ever anticipated.
Outside of work, Lauren is a busy wife and mother of a toddler, but when she has the opportunity to go out, she likes to shop at thrift stores. She has also discovered Postcrossing, a website that allows people to sign up to send and receive postcards from strangers around the world. Most recently, Lauren sent a postcard to a woman named Olga in Russia.
It was great catching up with Lauren, as she was in the first group of students that I trained for the Reference Department when I started working at CMU. She is one of several former student employees who have gone on to become librarians, and we will profile more of them in the future.