Lian Ruan (MS '90, PhD '11) is the focus of a recent Illuminate Illinois feature by the Special Libraries Association (SLA) Illinois Chapter. Ruan is the director/head librarian of the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) Library at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and an adjunct lecturer at GSLIS. At IFSI, Ruan works to provide resources to firefighters and others in Illinois and across the country. She also connects with GSLIS students who work as assistants at the IFSI library.
In addition to her work as the IFSI library director, Ruan is the director of IFSI International Programs and has helped foster strong ties between librarians in the US and China. She leads the University’s Chinese Librarians Summer Program, which has trained more than 220 librarians since it began in 2005. Ruan recently visited academic libraries in China to promote the 2014 summer program. As the next president of the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), she will continue to develop strong relationships between Chinese and American librarians.
The interview with SLA provides some insight into how Ruan has achieved so much in her career so far:
What advanced degree/s do you have? Any comments on how that fits with your work or goals today?
I hold a Ph.D. in library and information science. The degree has been very helpful and useful because it has trained me to conduct better research and helped me develop new perspectives.
If you met a total (professional) stranger, what’s your elevator pitch? What do you think your clients value most about working with you?
In Illinois, 70% of firefighters are volunteers. The Illinois Fire Service Institute Library is the only fire science library in the state, and one of the largest in the country. Unfortunately, there are few local resources available to effectively support firefighting training and learning. Firefighter users have praised my library’s fine quality information services, provided in a timely manner. They have greatly appreciated the digital image database (IFLODD) we developed that collects and manages data about firefighters who have perished in the line of duty. IFLODD has served as a teaching and learning tool for firefighters to prevent future injuries and deaths. My library serves as an integral part of Illinois fire service.
Are you in the job today that you thought you would be 10 years ago? What was something you were doing then that influenced your eventual career path?
Yes. I learned to be open, flexible, and adaptable. I learned not to be afraid to make mistakes as long as I kept improving and never gave up.
To read the complete feature, visit the SLA Illinois Chapter website.