Meet the O’Neill Reference Assistants

Each year O’Neill Library employs currently enrolled library science students at Simmons University to staff the reference desk Monday through Thursday evenings. All of them are on the cusp of embarking on careers in librarianship of one form or another. Here’s a window into what that moment looks like for each of them.

Lee Parker

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Lee Parker, Reference Assistant, O’Neill Library

I am currently a student in the Masters of Archives Management and History program at Simmons University. I received my undergraduate degree at Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee where I majored in history and minored in Spanish. Before moving to Tennessee for my undergraduate education, I had lived in Baton Rouge Louisiana for my entire life. When not here at the O’Neill Library reference desk you can find me attending classes, studying, writing my thesis, or working in the cataloging department of the Harvard Fine Arts Library. 

Although I am specializing in archival work through my education, I greatly enjoy the reference side of this type of work and therefore my job at Boston College has proved quite rewarding. My favorite part of this work has to be Boston College Library’s online chat option because it allows me to assist BC students located both on and off campus and allows students to make the most of their time when they are at the library. I am available on the reference desk Tuesdays and Thursdays with my colleagues Alana and Abby. My colleagues and I are available on chat during those times as well. On top of general inquiries, I also have extensive research, academic writing, and primary-source based experiences so if you would like help with any of these topics before you are ready to get in contact with one of Boston College’s awesome subject librarians feel free to come up to the desk and ask me! Looking forward to meeting you!

Alana Kilby

Alana Kilby, Reference Assistant, O’Neill Library

I’m currently a graduate student studying Library and Information Science with a focus in Librarianship at Simmons University. Over the last few years, I’ve traveled widely but my hometown is a little over 100 miles north of Denali in Alaska. I received my Bachelor’s in English there with a minor in Linguistics.

Saying you’ve studied English could mean any number of things. I’ve always been a reader. To get specific (and kind of nerdy) my current interest in literature is the way gender & sexuality and human & non-human are defined and portrayed in fiction. And like many readers finding themselves holding the pen, I actively participate in the literature community through creative writing and literary criticism.

Being a books person doesn’t mean I’m out being a recluse in the stacks–I love “the people element.” (Without people, literature is dead.) Please feel free to stop by and say hello! Ask me questions about my travels or Alaska or how to find resources for that paper you’re working on. I’m happy to help.

Mik Hamilton

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Mik Hamilton, Reference Assistant, O’Neill Library

I’m currently a graduate student in the Archives Management (M.L.S.) and History (M.A.) dual degree program at Simmons University. In 2019, I graduated from Cornell University with a double major in Archaeology and Classics and a minor in Anthropology. While I was studying at Cornell, I began my first library job at Kroch Library’s Rare & Manuscript Collections. Since then, I have worked and interned with several different cultural heritage institutions falling under the GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) umbrella. In all of these positions, I’ve been motivated by a desire to improve public access to educational cultural resources. Within archival work, this often looks like improving the discoverability of archival collections through outreach efforts. In this vein, I’ve undertaken several projects to link Wikipedia articles to relevant archival repositories and digital assets, and created an instructional LibGuide, Wikipedia for Archivists, about this very topic. I’ve also helped facilitate several Wikipedia Edit-a-Thons to improve the representation of women on Wikipedia. If you’re interested in dipping your toe into Wikipedia editing for equality, feel free to reach out–or drop by the reference desk–and I’d be happy to chat! 

Given my interest in improving public access to information, I’ve really enjoyed my time as a Reference Assistant at Boston College. I love being able to connect library patrons with resources that facilitate their coursework, research, or various information quests. It’s always rewarding to show a student that they don’t need to purchase that $300 textbook, or to help a student locate a journal article essential for their final paper. Boston College has incredible resources available to its students if the students know where to look, and I love being the person that guides them in the right direction. So, if you’re looking for research guidance, library or archival resources, or just want to chat, come on by!

Abby Johnston

Abby Johnston, Reference Assistant, O’Neill Library

I’m a graduate student at Simmons University earning my MS in Library and Information Science with a concentration in Cultural Heritage Informatics. In 2019, I graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Humanities. As an undergraduate, I studied Classical Civilizations, Religion, and English Literature. My favorite eras to study are early medieval and Victorian England!

I’m excited to be starting as a reference assistant this fall at O’Neill Library. Previously, I’ve worked at museums and archival institutions in cataloging and visitor services roles, and am excited to bring these experiences with me to the reference desk. I know how frustrating it can be to get stuck in a rut when writing a research paper or trying to use a database you’re unfamiliar with, and helping students feel empowered to use the library’s resources to get through those tough assignments is something I’m passionate about. I’m available at the reference desk (or online via Boston College Libraries chat!) on Tuesday evenings– please stop by for any of your reference needs.

Karen Clausen-Brown

Karen Clausen-Brown, Reference Assistant, O’Neill Library

Hi! I’ve lived most of my life on the west coast, first in southern California and then in Washington state, but I’m excited to be living in Boston now and pursuing an MLIS degree from Simmons University in Archives Management. Librarianship is a second career for me, and in my previous life I was an English professor. I earned my B.A. with a triple major in English, religion, and biblical languages from Walla Walla University and then earned a Ph.D. in early modern English literature from the University of Notre Dame. After my doctoral program, I returned to Walla Walla University and worked in their English department for nine years, teaching subjects like writing, research, literary theory, and medieval and Renaissance literature. Currently, I work not only in Boston College’s O’Neill Library but also in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum and in the Schlesinger Library at Harvard. I’m very excited to become a part of the O’Neill Library reference team. I love working with researchers and hearing about their varied projects and questions, so I’m eager to assist you with any questions you might have. I’ll be at the reference desk and available for virtual chat on Monday and Wednesday evenings this fall, so please stop by. Looking forward to meeting you!