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Photo of Susan McCarrell LyonSusan McCarrell Lyon ’97

This is part 4 in our weekly summer blog series in which we will be highlighting some of the amazing Furman University alumni who have pursued careers in library and information science professions. Click here to view previous posts in this series.

Today we are featuring Susan McCarrell Lyon. Lyon graduated from Furman in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in music. She went on to earn a master’s in music from the University of Georgia, a performance diploma from Longy Conservatory, and finally, a master’s in library and information science from the University of South Carolina. Lyon currently serves as the learning engagement manager for the Richland Library in Columbia, SC!

Tell us a little bit about how you chose to work as a library and information professional?

“My first job after Furman (with benefits) was as a checkout clerk in the Richland County Public Library.  That library experience helped me get a job while a broke conservatory student in Boston.  Boston Public Library (BPL) was the only employer who called me back after handing out resumes to every retailer on my path to and from school (too bad, Body Shop!). I worked at BPL as a music research assistant while studying flute performance at Longy. At BPL, I met an amazing librarian who understood my life as a performing musician (always tired, always broke, always busy with rehearsal). She was a horn player from Ottowa, Canada who loved music, learning, and research as much as I did.  She encouraged me to consider a career in libraries and pursue performing as my side passion.  I listened to her; I’m so glad I did!”

What has been your professional path to your current position?

“During my MLIS studies, I worked at the USC Music Library and thought I’d be a music research librarian.  I also volunteered at my public library; I fell in love with the possibilities for community and civic engagement that are possible through the public library.  I was hired as a librarian in the film and sound (music/media/film) department at Richland Library in December of 2006.  During the ebook and digital media boom of 2010, there was great opportunity for helping our staff and community learn, grow, and adapt to these new technologies.  I found myself leading our Learning Engagement team in the fall of 2011.  In my current role, I anticipate, listen, and respond to the learning needs of our community and staff.”

What is the most interesting library in which you’ve worked?

“My current library!  At Richland Library I work with an array of creative and passionate professionals including sculptors, painters, marketing gurus, fundraising professionals, children services experts, teen and graphic novel gurus, videographers, media artists, writers, film specialists, reading specialists, career development specialists…. I could go on and on about my talented coworkers who inspire me each day with their passion for making our community a better place to live.”

What is something you have been surprised by during your career?

“How my passions as an individual (music, art, travel, food) could help inform my job as a librarian.  You’ve probably heard that quote about libraries being your “passport to the world”…  It’s all connected!”

Is there a particularly fond memory from your time at Furman that you would be willing to share?

“Some of my fondest memories are from practicing late at night in the Daniel Music Building.  Some of the friends who would knock on my practice room door, encouraging me to take a break and head to IHOP for late night fun and greasy food, are now lifelong friends. I even married one of them!”