Learning from a librarian’s expertise

Library media specialist Soni Woodley gained hands-on experience at Cook Library while earning her master’s in instructional technology.

Soni Woodley
A fall 2018 graduate of the program, Soni Woodley was hired by the Prince Georges County Public Schools as a Library Media Specialist.

When Soni Woodley was earning her bachelor’s in English at Towson University, one of her favorite places on campus was Cook Library.

That’s where she figured out what she wanted to do with her life.

Experiencing how Cook librarians share their expertise through instruction made Woodley recognize she wanted to do the same in a middle or high school library after graduation — and maybe even someday as Librarian of Congress.

“With everything online,” says Woodley, “someone guiding students in how to find proper information is a must.”

That’s why she chose the School Library Media Concentration in TU’s instructional technology master’s program, where she has found supportive faculty “there to see you succeed” and an array of opportunities preparing her for the future.

Opportunities like a “weeding activity” in her beloved Cook Library that she got to do as part of a class. Students raided the library’s K-12 collection to check that the volumes were in good condition and relevant — a pleasure for Woodley who says she fell in love with literature through children’s books. The project culminated with students making recommendations on which items should be culled.

“ Faculty are there to see you succeed. ”

Soni Woodley

“That was really helpful, to go into an actual library,” says the Maryland native. “We get a lot of practice.” Particularly, she adds, because the children’s section at Cook is shelved according to the Dewey Decimal System, like that of most K-12 schools and public libraries.

She also appreciates that the master’s program pairs students with individuals already working as library-media specialists in K-12 settings so that those in training can learn from folks in the field.

“The working professionals are so eager to help out someone in school,” says Woodley. “They let you come in and ask them questions. They share their experiences.”

An officer for the College of Education in the Graduate Student Association (GSA), Woodley says she recommends TU’s instructional technology program to students at open houses, touting the small class sizes, informed professors and experiential learning.

The faculty, says Woodley, “really do a good job making [the program] hands-on and practical.”

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