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College of Information and Communications

Alumni Spotlight: Karen McMullen

Posted July 1, 2016

Karen McMullen is a 1994 MLIS graduate. In addition to working as head of access services for the USC School of Medicine Library, Karen also finds time to make a difference in her community. A founding member of the South Carolina Eating Disorders Association (SCEDA), she helped bring a National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) walk to Columbia four years ago. In June, she was presented with a Mungo Homes Community Builder Award during an interview with WIS-TV for her work to raise awareness for eating disorders.

What do you do in your current job? 

As head of Access Services at the USC School of Medicine Library, I oversee the daily operations of Access Services, including opening and/or closing the library, desk operations, circulation functions, telephone queries, financial transactions, maintaining security, assisting School of Medicine students, faculty, staff and other patrons, and answering reference questions. 

What is the most interesting or significant thing you’ve done since graduating?

I would say one of the most significant things I’ve done since graduating is establishing a library at St. Joseph Catholic Church.  I literally started this library from the ground, and can now proudly say that the Library has over 1,200 items cataloged.

What are you passionate about in your work?

I am passionate about helping our students, staff and faculty.  Students are under a lot of stress, so I often go beyond what is expected of me in order to help them. Helping staff and faculty members find information they need is very rewarding. Our students, staff and faculty are the reason I have a job, so going the extra mile for them just seems natural.

What did you learn while in school at the CIC that still resonates today?

There are two things that I learned in Library School which still resonates with me today.  One is how to conduct a “reference interview” in order to find out what someone REALLY wants to know.  The other is how important it is to network with colleagues. 

Do you have a favorite professor or a favorite memory from your time at the CIC?

My favorite professor was Dr. Charles “Chuck” Curran (retired). His witty personality and his interest in theater made him a very entertaining professor. 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.