LART Bios: Lisa Molinelli

Who are you?

I am Vice Chair for the Library Assessment Round Table, and the Interim Education and Instruction Librarian at Portland State University. Before coming to PSU, I was the Instruction and Outreach Librarian for two years at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA. My position at St. Joe’s (as it’s more affectionately called) was my first full time professional library job after I earned my MLIS at Simmons College in Boston, MA. While in library school, I worked in public services and as a manuscripts assistant at the Schlesinger Library at Harvard; as a serials assistant at Simmons College’s library; and as a reference and instruction librarian at Emerson College. Prior to libraries, I worked in academic book publishing; as a freelance proofreader and editor; as a lawyer’s assistant; and as a writing tutor. My undergrad degree is in English and Women’s Studies from Bucknell University. I grew up in New York (Long Island to be more exact), and also lived in Colorado, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, before landing here in beautiful Portland, OR. I feel really fortunate to be here!

What interests you about Library Assessment?

Assessment helps us serve better, which is what I think it’s really all about. If you want to get fancy, and if you’ll allow me to use some “expensive” words: I’m particularly interested in formative assessment, rubrics, and how we can ultimately use these tools to help students learn and more effectively access the information they need to answer their own research questions. I’m also quite interested in the field of UX, or User Experience and design–which I think is a really powerful form of assessment that comes to us from the web design field. I think there’s so much there that can be applied to library websites, as well as how we serve our patrons in general.

Where do you draw inspiration for being a librarian from?

I mostly draw it from an amazing and talented array of colleagues and friends in the “business”–including my wonderful LART board members! I am fortunate to know so many librarians of varied stripes doing amazing and innovative things. Just talking, tweeting, or facebooking with them gives me so much to think about and be hopeful about in terms of our profession.

What are some cool things going on at your library right now?

PSU has a very heavily used library, which I think is cool in and of itself! In the last year alone we had over one million visitors–and I think that’s fantastic! We’ve also just launched a wonderful Digital Archive ( which has really fun pictures of our campus throughout history. And we’re using those images on our social media–which gets a decent amount of attention as a result. We’re also creating some really innovative online learning objects–which I hope to tell you all more about when they’re ready for primetime. 😉

Besides the library where you work, what is your favorite library and why?

I love the Schlesinger Library at Harvard (, and not just because I worked there! They are the only library on Harvard’s campus open to the general public. And they have an amazing archival collection on the history of women in America, including the papers of the National Organization of Women. They also have one of the best culinary history collections you’ll ever set eyes on. Heck, they’ve got Julia Child’s papers there! She’s one of my personal heroes, so that was major for me to be in close proximity to them. And, again, anyone from the general public can come to this library and access this stuff. Amazing. Plus: the librarians and staff there are just wonderful–I can’t say enough good things about it!

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