Associate Director of Research, Teaching, and Learning Melissa Becher’s love of libraries goes back a long way. Growing up, she spent many hours at the library at the University of Akron campus where her father was a professor of Electrical Engineering. Her first job as a teenager was at the local public library, shelving books. As an undergraduate in Art History, Melissa accepted an internship at the Hirshhorn Museum. While there, she had the opportunity to visit a number of the specialized libraries located within the museums—and was hooked. Before and after receiving her MLS, Melissa worked for the Library of Congress. In 1996, she joined the American University Library.
Where can you find her?
In addition to answering questions at the Reference Desk and offering personal appointments at the library, Melissa teaches a number of information literacy sessions for the Art History and College Writing Departments. An admirer of Northern Renaissance art, Romanesque sculpture, and the artists of the Venetian school, Melissa is always happy to discuss art history research. Melissa is often around campus—on Wednesdays, you can find her checking out the locally grown offerings at the AU Farmer’s Market.
Why she loves her job
Melissa describes AU students as “highly engaged, passionate, and interested in changing the world” and is consistently impressed with the advanced level of their work. Her reference work allows her to interact with students and faculty from a variety of disciplines, on a wide range of topics. As a result she “learns something new every day.” Melissa’s enthusiasm for puzzles and problem solving is a natural fit with library science and providing research assistance. She sees her role as helping researchers create a more direct path to reaching their scholarship goals.
In her administrative role, Melissa has been involved in the evaluation and improvement of the library website. She works to maintain smooth operation of the software platforms behind the Library’s Subject Guides, Find More Answers knowledgebase, and Ask AU Library chat reference service. In addition to this, she conducts focus groups and usability tests to improve the website and library web services.
In the Community
As an administrator, scholar, and librarian, Melissa enjoys taking an active role in university life by participating in campus committees. She recently served on the Senate Committee on Information Services and as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Learning Outcomes and Assessment. Building relationships with other departments is a priority for Melissa, and she attends student research events as a way to connect with the broader AU community.
These student research events also inspire Melissa in her librarianship. “AU students are producing great humanitarian work and are going to change the world. We help them get there—and that is such an exciting thought.”