Tag Archives: staff

5 Questions for Author-ECC Librarian Karen Klein

Karen new picOne of our librarians, Karen Klein, has published a book titled Torin’s Legacy. We decided to do a 5 question interview about her book and her inspirations.

What is your book about?

The short answer is that it is about adventure & fantasy. However, I will also include book description for more detail:

To choose magic…?

After Andrew’s dad died, his mom wanted him to have a normal non-magical life in Los Angeles.

His Aunt Mac had another idea – she wanted him to move to Chicago to become her apprentice.

Andrew chose the Mages’ Guild over his mother. He never thought his choice would land him into a world of High Magic, being chased by Shadows in a place with ever-changing scenery where you can’t rely on a map to get you home.

 Who is your target reader?

I tend to write for myself or my brother and not think about a broader audience until the more business side of things come into play.

That being said, my book isn’t YA, but I think that teens could enjoy it as much as adults. I would say the ideal reader of my book is either someone who already loves fantasy and wants a new adventure. Or perhaps someone who may not normally read the genre, but is open to a fun story.

 What are the major themes in your book?

I think that themes are more for readers than writers – what did the reader get from the book? A book isn’t truly finished until its been read.

However, if I had to say,  identity & coming-of-age. Two of the main characters are teenagers and that really is a time for exploration. And answering the question: who do I want to be?

Courtesy of Amazon.com

 Who has inspired you, or who inspires you?

Great question. My younger brother inspires me. (He’s not so little anymore). He survived cancer at fifteen and never once complained during chemo or radiation. He fought so hard and thank goodness, he is now healthy and in college.  The other person in my family who inspires me is my dad. He does it with his work ethic and always striving to be the best that he can be.

In terms of writing and art, I have many inspirations and influences. I adore Jane Austen, which doesn’t come out so much in this particular novel. However, in some forthcoming projects, I can see her influence. I am also inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien, he did it accidentally, but he created what we now see as “modern fantasy.” A third author who inspires me is Neil Gaiman – he is never afraid to tell a story in the medium it needs. I am in awe of his ability to not only write novels and short stories, but also television, film, and graphic novels. I want to grow up to be him someday. Especially since he has had the opportunity to write episodes for Dr. Who, which is one of my favorite TV shows.

I could go on and on about how many writers have influenced me, so I will stop at three. But I would like to say that I am also influenced by the world around me – nature, travel, music and art. It all goes into the idea compost of my subconscious.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

There is so much advice out there and this may sound a bit cliche, but really read and write are the two biggest pieces of advice I would give any writer.

Read as much as you can as often as you can so you can see both the good and the bad that has been published. Read outside of your comfort zone and push your boundaries.

Then write, many people say to write everyday, which gets you into the habit of it. This is a piece of advice that I myself have difficulty in following. So if you can’t write every day, find time in your schedule and make it happen. Even if that is only ten minutes three times a week or an hour once a week. Make the most of the time that you have. You can’t improve without practice. And if you miss a day or week try not to beat yourself up. Instead, just make it to the next session and do it. (I know this is hard. I still struggle with this myself.)

Finally, go out and experience life, everything that you do and see. Every conversation you have or eavesdrop on is fodder for writing. Live your life to the fullest so that your writing will be as vibrant as your life.

To buy the ebook, click here!

Staff Spotlight: 5 Questions with….Stacey Shah

StaceyFinish this sentence: In my spare time, I love to….
Laugh with my daughter, run, swim, hike, bike, garden, read, travel, go camping, and play piano.

My favorite things about Elgin….
Beautiful parks and recreation centers; excellent libraries and museums; wonderful bike/nature trails, the Fox River, cafes/restaurants, festivals and events, etc. It’s a great place to work and live.

If I could have any super power (or be any super hero), I would have/be…and why…
I heard an episode of the podcast This American Life that said most people would either choose flying or invisibility as their superpower and that what they choose says something about their personality, but I can’t remember what. I hate commuting, so flying sounds great to me. I’d love to zip around to all my favorite places and avoid snow driving all winter. If I could fly invisibly, that would be even better!

I am currently reading…
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and Dear Life (a collection of short stories by Alice Munro).

What is your favorite technology/app and why?
I love the Field Trip App. As you are out and about, it will pop up with information about historical sites you pass by. So, for example, you may drive past a building that has rich history to it and never realize it. The Field Trip app would notify you that you are near something interesting and give you a little blurb to read about it.

Stacy Shah is the ECC Library’s Distance Learning Librarian.

Staff Spotlight: 5 Questions with…Maria Bagshaw

Maria14What is your job?
I am one of the adjunct Reference/Instruction Librarians.  Which means I help you find appropriate resources for your topics, teach you how to use those resources, and hopefully help give you the skills you need to be an independent researcher and thinker.

If you could tell students one thing, it would be…
In the course of your life, college is just a small (but super important) part of it.  Persist and persevere in your studies to do the best you can to succeed.  At the time, it feels like it lasts forever, but in retrospect, the choices you make now and the hard work you do will serve you well in your future.

My favorite part of my job is….
Working with and meeting students and faculty.  Plus, everyone has different topics to research, so there is never a dull moment!

My most recent travel experience was to….
Austin, Texas to visit one of my best friends.  Road trip with my sister and niece, visiting the world’s largest rocking chair and Solo paper cup (it’s true–here are pictures!)  Austin is a really fun place–truly weird in a wonderful way. And the bar-b-que is to die for. Can’t wait to go back!

I am currently reading…
Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson. But I may put it aside to read David Sax’s The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed up with Fondue.

Staff Spotlight: 5 Questions with…Jana Porter

Jana Porter

Jana Porter and Abbey

What is your job?
As a part-time reference/instruction librarian at ECC I most enjoy assisting students in their search for quality information. Whether it is about where to find the photocopier or how to write an ethnographic research interview, no question is too small. The process of discovery turns these questions into creative and fun interactions.

What is your background?
Before coming to ECC I worked as a librarian at a community music school in Chicago. Besides a Masters in Library Science I have an undergraduate in trumpet and a Masters in Music Theory. When I was in High School I was first chair trumpet in the Missouri All-State band for three years, and this as well as my participation in the McDonald’s All-American band won me a full-ride scholarship to Rice University in Houston, Texas. I still play music in my free time, and teach trumpet at ECC as a part-time instructor.

My favorite thing about Chicago is….
I completely enjoyed living and working in Chicago for my first four years in Illinois. Specifically I loved taking public transportation and walking everywhere. There is an excitement in the diversity of Chicago too, and I believed that if one area of the city got boring I could always move to another neighborhood – whether Little Italy, Chinatown, La Villita, etc.

If I could say anything to the students . . .
I would say love people (especially yourself!) and discover a passion for something that makes a difference in the world – even a small difference!

One of my most recent travel experiences was…
Last summer in Estes Park, CO where my husband and I rented a Harley Davidson motorcycle and explored the fantastic mountain landscape.



Staff Spotlight: 5 Questions with…Carl Lehnen

Carl Lehnen, Librarian

Carl Lehnen, Librarian

What is your job?
I am a reference librarian, which means that I work at the research help desk and teach classes to help students get the most out of the library.

What is your background?
I grew up in a small town in Missouri (“The Mushroom Capital of the World,” if you believe the sign on the way into town) and originally came to Illinois for grad school. At first I thought I wanted to be an English professor, but decided that I liked learning a little bit about a lot of different topics and getting to work with a team instead of working by myself to become an expert on just one topic. I got my Masters of Library Science from the University of Illinois last May and have been working here at ECC since September. I love getting to know the great students and faculty here.

My favorite thing about Chicago is….
There’s always something to do! It’s a city with a lot of history that is also still inventing itself.

I am currently reading…
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

If I could have any super power, it would be…
No contest: I choose the power of flight.

Staff Spotlight: 5 Questions with…Jen Schlau

Jen Schlau

Jen Schlau

Why did you become a librarian? I’ve always been a big reader, and in undergrad while a research assistant, I discovered just how much I love researching, too.

My favorite part of my job is: When I see students learn something about researching that they can apply for the rest of their lives. I also like learning something new every day from student questions.

If you could tell students one thing, it would be: Stick with your education!

My favorite thing about Chicago is.. you can always go into the city and find a great place to eat/something fun to do!

In my spare time, I love to: read (especially non-fiction), spend time outside when there is no polar vortex (walking, jogging, yard work, reading, etc), do yoga, and I never miss a Chicago Bears game when it’s football season.

Staff Spotlight: 5 Questions with…Dennece Jefferson

Dennece Jefferson

Dennece Jefferson, Division Office Coordinator

What is your job? My job is division office coordinator, and I’ve been here almost 14 years. My primary responsibility is to assist our dean in coordinating various activities and functions for all departments within the division: Library, Distance Learning, Intensive English, GED Testing, Disability Services, International Student Services, Testing, and Tutoring. Most tasks I perform are the same each day/week, but there’s always a different project on my to-do list. I’ve also been part of SSECCA leadership for most of my tenure, this year I was involved in Black History Month (much fun!), and recently I spoke to a group of health profession students about my illness and experience working with physical therapists. Giving them a first-hand look at a real patient with real disabilities was very exciting and fulfilling, and I hope to be a “guest speaker” again in the future!

My favorite thing about Chicago is…. its diversity! I can’t imagine living in a place where everybody looks the same, talks the same, eats the same things, etc. We even have diverse weather! There’s always something to do, whether in the city or the surrounding suburbs. Just make a choice and GO!

My favorite part of my job is…when I can interact directly with our students. Because I work “behind the scenes”, it’s always a special moment when I can be a positive influence on a student.

Describe yourself in one word using the first letter of your first name. Dedicated! Whatever I do, I give it my all.

What is your favorite technology/app and why? My Kindle, of course! I read my beloved books on it (to date, I have 7,000 titles in over 50 collections), play games, exercise, meditate, listen to music, watch videos, surf the web, check my bank balance/calendar/weather, shop, make lists, it wakes me up in the morning, reminds me of appointments….and I can do any of these anywhere. My favorite app would be Sudoku IF I could play it on my Kindle. For some reason, I can only play it with the pencil and paper version!