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DMIL Member Interview With Sharon Lenius 01/31/2015

1) How did you get involved in military librarianship?
When I was in Graduate School at Indiana University, Bloomington, I asked my advisor what kind of library positions would take me overseas. Well the answer was working for DoD overseas in their base libraries. A recruiter for the Army Library Program came to campus and I interviewed and was offered a job in Germany. I was in charge of three (3) libraries, one for only two weeks and then the US Military Districts in Germany “reorganized” and the one fell under a different jurisdiction. That was my first experience of “reorg” a common phenomenon of large organizations.

2) How did you get involved in DMIL?
My colleague urged me to join SLA but I was a staunch ALAer, until I realized that the Military Libraries Division had a Special Interest Group (SIG) as part of the local DC Chapter. So I first joined SLA in 1990. This Military Libraries Group (MLG) was just the place for me to make the kinds of contacts I needed to assist me on the job. I found I enjoyed the programs and the networking. And, when the MLG asked me to volunteer for their programming efforts I found I enjoyed working for/with the group. So the experience of being invited to programs, though not a member drew me in, it was the contacts that convinced me to join SLA. Writing this, I realize that was twenty-five years ago! What a great decision!

3) What has been your best experience working for the military?
Working overseas in a Base Library atmosphere, I felt offering the American Public Library experience to the soldiers and especially to the young children was so valuable. Collaborating with the various Wives’ Clubs to supply more Children’s Material provided lessons in fund raising, leadership, communications and volunteer management that have stood me in “good stead” throughout my career. As a special librarian in a technology library, providing the right resources, timely advice and possibilities of real dollar savings proved the worth of the library and staff.

4) What has been your best experience being involved in DMIL?
Working with other professional librarians who want to help Military Libraries make a difference.

5) What positions in DMIL have you held?
Within DMIL I have been Chair Elect, Chair, Past Chair, and Secretary and worked on the Resource Committee.

6) If someone were to visit your library or your town, what would you be sure to show them or recommend that they see?
Since I am in the Washington DC area I would recommend three places that reflect American History. All are, however, a little off the beaten path. One would be Gunston Hall, home of American statesman, George Mason. It is located in Fairfax County not far from Mt Vernon. Another favorite location is from the Civil War era, President Lincoln’s Cottage located on the grounds of the Soldiers Home in Washington, DC. Lincoln spent a portion of each year, mainly the summer months at the Cottage. My final recommendation would be the Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport. This annex to the Museum on the Mall displays thousands of aviation and space artifacts.

7) Please recommend one LIS-specific book or article that you read recently that you found particularly interesting. What makes it worthwhile?
“When Books Went to War: the Stories that Helped US Win World War II” by Moly Guptill Manning, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. This book tells the story of Americans response to the Nazi book-burning. Working together, publishers, librarians and the US Government supplied G.I.’s with reading material that led to the rise of the paperback book and contemporary legacy, the Army Paperback Book Kits. These materials support deployed Soldiers of today in remote locations through regular monthly deliveries of paperback book kits, small MP3 players containing an audio book and other materials. Kits contain about 25 paperback books and are specially selected to match the interests of Soldiers.

8) If you were to recommend one book, just for fun, what would it be?
As a Science Fiction fan I would like to introduce you to the sub-genre of Space Opera and an S-F classic novel by James H. Schmitz, “The Witches of Karres.” This novel features well-developed characters, a mix of fantasy and science fiction and is “laugh-out-loud” hilarious in many places as the befuddled Captain Pausert deals with what he thinks of as three ordinary young girls (in reality very powerful young witches) enslaved during a raid on an Imperial planet. Adventures abound!

One Response to “DMIL Member Interview With Sharon Lenius 01/31/2015”

  1. Nancy Faget says:

    Really nice article that shows how wonderful it is to work with people like Sharon. What a great way to contribute to the world and live an interesting life



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