Release Date: 
Sunday, October 18, 2020

Research and Instruction Librarian thrives in student-focused environment

HFC Research and Instruction Librarian Janel Mills has been an academic librarian for 16 years. She enjoys being in a community college setting because it allows her to provide direct student service.
HFC Research and Instruction Librarian Janel Mills has been an academic librarian for 16 years. She enjoys being in a community college setting because it allows her to provide direct student service.

HFC Research and Instruction Librarian Janel Mills always enjoyed spending time in libraries, so it was no surprise that she would make library science her career.

“I liked the research part of my college assignments more than the writing part!” said Mills, of Wayne, laughing. “Once I got to library school, I realized that I would get to keep learning and teaching research in academic libraries, so I decided to head in that direction.”

An alumna of Wayne Memorial High School, Mills earned her bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Michigan (U-M) and her master’s degree in library and information science from Wayne State University. She also has a master’s degree in literature from Eastern Michigan University (EMU).

A 16-year veteran of the library science field, Mills worked at the U-M Law Library before coming to HFC in early 2020. As research and instruction librarian, her duties include:

  • Providing reference and research assistance to library users (students, faculty, staff)
  • Leading instructional sessions on information literacy and research skills for students

Desire to return to a community college setting

“I wanted to return to a community college setting,” she said of her employment at HFC. “The staff at the HFC Library are great, and I wanted to work in a place that is student-focused.”

Mills spent five years at Baker College and nine years at the now-defunct Art Institute of Michigan in Novi. Both institutions were career-focused and offered associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees, according to Mills.

“They worked with a very similar population of students that community colleges work with,” she said. “I really enjoyed my time working ‘behind the scenes’ at U-M Law, but my heart is working directly with students and faculty. So I'm really happy to be back doing that.”

“Janel has that killer combination of talent and approachability, which makes her an extraordinary librarian. She's an expert guide to students in need of research help, a stellar full-time faculty member, and an all-around super colleague. HFC is lucky to have her!” said HFC Director of the Library and Academic Support Services Kate Harger.

Not long into Mills' job at the College, the pandemic hit, forcing most employees to work remotely.

“Sometimes it can be tough to place faces with names since we're working remotely, and I miss the in-person student interaction you get at a busy reference desk like ours,” said Mills. “But our chat reference service has also been busy, and the challenge of adapting to the changing needs of our students and faculty has been so rewarding!”

A passion for library service and information literacy

“We have such an incredible group of librarians here who are passionate about library service and information literacy. I'm excited to be part of the changes and growth we're working on for the future,” she said. “Despite having spent more time working remotely than on-campus in my role at HFC, I have to say that everyone has made me feel so welcome. I'm looking forward to a long career here and getting to know everyone – both on-screen and in person!”

HFC User Experience Librarian Tessa Betts said Mills was invaluable when the College switched to remote instruction.

“Janel is everything I could have hoped for in a co-librarian,” said Betts. “She is smart and funny, which I enjoy, but she really understands our students and how to help them. This skill is so important during these online-only times, and I am grateful that I get to navigate these new waters with her.”