Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Māra Wiggins started her library career as a children’s librarian before transitioning to a law librarian position, and finally transferring to her current institution, Southwest Minnesota State University, in 2002. Māra has a myriad of roles at SMSU, one of which is the University Librarian. In addition to this position, she is the collection management librarian where she handles acquisitions and, “all things space” in the library. Her duties also include research consultations, teaching first-year seminars, and advising students with undeclared majors. Her many hats allow her to work with students, one of her favorite things about her job.  

In April, Māra was awarded the Cathy Cowan Award for University and Community Service from SMSU. This prestigious institutional award is presented to a faculty or staff member who demonstrates a dedication to community service. Māra was nominated by several individuals who value her service to the SMSU community and “her unwavering commitment to fostering a culture of inclusivity, collaboration, and excellence.”  

Māra shared that the foundational knowledge SLIS helped develop gave her practical, theoretical, and social skills that have benefited her library career. The time at SLIS allowed Māra to form her philosophy about librarianship and learn what was important to her. Practically, she has carried the reference and cataloging skills she learned throughout her entire career. Māra also learned how to adapt and remain resilient in an ever-changing career, not to mention the importance of networking. 

Māra recommends that aspiring librarians, first and foremost, go to library school at Iowa. Another piece of advice from Māra, specifically for future academic librarians, is to attend the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) annual conference. She shared that going to conferences, talking to vendors, and networking with other library and information professionals is important because it can benefit future career progression. Finally, Māra emphasized the joy that her job has brought her and the fulfilling and satisfying career that is librarianship. 

Photograph of Māra Wiggins