FHPL Scholarship Recipient Goes to Hamburg

Author: Carrie Toombs

Carrie outside of Kronberg Castle in Helsingor Denmark

Carrie outside of Kronberg Castle in Helsingor Denmark

It has been a year since I was lucky enough to receive the generous support of the Friends of HPL so that I can pursue my Master’s degree in Information Science at the University of North Texas. And what a year it’s been!

I took just one class in the Fall 2015 semester—the much dreaded INFO 5200 (Information Organization). The class, which revolves around the singular task of creating and organizing a collection of one’s own choosing, culminated in a 36 page paper detailing everything from the database I created to house the collection’s records, to the record structure and specifications, to the controlled vocabulary and thesaurus I created, and more. The project was just as involved as everyone I spoke with had suggested, and I’m glad I made the choice to focus on only that class.

Having tackled that project, I felt confident in taking on two classes in the Spring 2016 semester: Storytelling, and Data Analysis and Knowledge Discovery. Though they covered very different subject matter, I came away with equally valuable skills and knowledge from each class. In Storytelling, I learned about the structure of narrative, strategies for effective knowledge transfer through storytelling, as well as basic public performance skills. In Data Analysis and Knowledge Discovery, I learned about data mining techniques and text mining techniques. For my midterm, I had the opportunity to analyze real statistics from the Teen room at Central. This analysis has helped us select optimal times and topics for the programming we provide here.

Reference Desk with Customer Facing and Staff Facing Monitor from the State Library in Hamburg

Reference Desk with Customer Facing and Staff Facing Monitor from the State Library in Hamburg

Late in the Fall semester, I received an email advertising an upcoming study abroad program, for credit towards two classes: Managing Library Automation Projects and Services to Special Clienteles. The program was a hands-on learning experience during the first 8-week summer semester, with field work to take place in Hamburg, Germany the first three weeks. Intrigued, I sent off a letter of interest and was notified that I had been accepted into the program! I jumped into the process of getting approval for time off. My coworkers were so supportive and helpful in offering to cover my projects, nights and weekends so that I could pursue this learning experience; my teammates at HPL are truly some of the most exceptional, hard-working, kind and gracious people I’ve ever worked with.  

Lockers from the State Library in Hamburg

Lockers from the State Library in Hamburg

Carrie (seen right) and her classmates enjoying Copenhagen street food in Denmark

Carrie (seen right) and her classmates enjoying Copenhagen street food in Denmark

In May, I boarded my flight to Hamburg. We worked with the International School of Hamburg to improve existing processes and provide recommendations for optimizing library services. It was so interesting working in a global library setting and adjusting my perspective on libraries. I also learned a lot about the workings of school libraries, which will come in useful as HPL moves towards an increasingly collaborative relationship with HISD and other area school districts. I am proud that I was able to represent HPL and impart some of the best practices I have learned here. After I explained the research-based Very Ready Reader storytime curriculum that we are implementing at HPL, the Junior School Librarian at the International School of Hamburg Library was excited to purchase and implement the program. Over the course of the program, I was able to see so many European landmarks throughout Germany and Denmark, and even visit a family member I hadn’t seen in over five years!

All thanks to the tremendous support of the Friends.


Friends of HPL provides annual scholarships to HPL staff pursuing a Master's in Library Science. We believe that supporting the higher education of these individuals helps bring critical knowledge and renewed passion to our HPL branches. 

We thank all of our scholarship recipients for being a beacon of insight and light in our Houston libraries and we thank all of our volunteers for raising the funds that make these scholarships possible.