The thoughtful generalist

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Llibrarian Josh Finnell has been named a “mover and shaker” by Library Journal.

You already know this: librarians are sort of superheroes. They’re information experts. They’re teachers, researchers, finders, keepers, creators, digitizers, organizers, troubleshooters and info literacy specialists. They know tons, and what they don’t know, they know how to find out. Ours are the best, and one of them was recently lauded for it.

Josh Finnell, the humanities liaison librarian at Doane, does his job so well that he was nominated 17 times by Denison professors, staff and students for Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers award, which he won this spring.

Finnell works with professors and students from a wide range of disciplines, from East Asian studies to philosophy, helping to teach students how to do basic and advanced research.

So, what makes his work so special? To begin with, Finnell teaches a lot of classes about research – both in the classroom and in Doane Library itself. He tailors the lessons he teaches to the professors’ and students’ needs and even creates library guides for each of these classes.

He also spends time one-on-one with students. “Everyday I’m learning something new because students and faculty are always asking me questions from the entire spectrum of the humanities,” he says. “Though my undergraduate degree is in philosophy, I like to consider myself a ‘thoughtful generalist.’”

Much of Finnell’s work involves building digital collections. From Exile, Denison’s literary journal, to the archival holdings of the Homestead, Josh has collaborated with both students and faculty in preserving and creating access to Denison’s history and scholarly output. Mark Moller, chair of the philosophy department said, “Josh was so helpful when it came to digitalizing the philosophy journal. He initiated the project, carried it out and continues to support it.”

“He’s knowledgeable and skilled in many fields,” reports the Library Journal. “Besides contributing to academic literature in his own disciplines of library science and philosophy, he has published on topics including the ethics of medical research.”

It seems our faculty agrees. One professor called him “the serious scholar’s best friend.”

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