Two years ago, Heather Crane decided to take a career aptitude test after feeling worn out working in retail. To her surprise, the test suggested she would make an excellent librarian. Other than childhood trips to the library with family and a few visits while getting her undergraduate degree in photography, the library wasn’t a major part of her life. But something about the career idea intrigued her, so she did some research.

“I looked up the job requirements and realized I already had many of the same skills: customer service, instruction, inventory management, etc. All I needed was a master’s degree,” Crane said. “Being a librarian also checked off all my boxes of what I wanted out of a job: I could be good at it, it was meaningful work, it paid well enough and there was enough of a demand.”

Crane is now an open education librarian at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. She graduated from Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies in December with a master’s degree in Library and Information Science. In her role, she advocates for open access through the use of library resources and Open Educational Resources (OER). 

“I spend most of my time consulting with faculty to find resources that can replace traditional expensive textbooks in their courses, promoting the library and OER through events and social media and conducting assessments to gauge the use of OER and feelings toward it at the university,” she said. 

The work is especially meaningful to Crane because she knows how expensive textbooks can be for students. She didn’t buy any new textbooks as an undergraduate or graduate student because of the costs. Instead, she relied on library resources, rentals or used books.

“I hope that I can help students afford course materials,” she said. “I believe information should be accessible and there shouldn’t be an extra paywall on student success. The textbook and academic publications industries have gotten out of hand, so I’d be very happy to be part of a more affordable solution.

Crane says the faculty at Embry-Riddle has been very supportive of her goal to help students save money. 

“Even though they don’t have a lot of time, the faculty still go out of their way to try to help their students access a more affordable education. It’s great to see a community that cares and looks out for the students,” she said.

Crane has been busy at work and in her personal life lately. In addition to recently starting a new job and graduating from the iSchool, she also got engaged in September and has been planning her wedding. She also spends time taking care of her gray cat, Charlemagne, as well as cooking, gardening, kayaking, playing video games and doing art. 

If she could offer any advice to current iSchool students, Crane would encourage them to get as much in-person experience in a career as possible, even if an internship isn’t required, and to be persistent and ask everyone for an opportunity.

“Even if a connection or a role doesn’t seem related to what you want, explore it anyway. Even if an experience seems small, do it anyway and put it on your resume,” she said. “Celebrate your wins and brag about your accomplishments. They say women aren’t as confident as men when applying for positions, and most librarians are women. Learn how to advocate for yourself.”