Mary Wagner

Mary Wagner

Professor of Library and Information Science

From: St. Paul, Minnesota
St. Kate’s courses: Introduction to library and information services, materials for children and young adults, and international librarianship


Life at St. Kate’s:
Wagner joined the MLIS faculty in 1975. In addition to teaching in the program, she developed curriculum and chaired the department three times. She has also served as the program director from 1991 to 2010.

What are you interested in?
“I am interested in how information is formed, controlled, transferred and used in differing cultures and societies. Related to this interest, is how literacy and literacy skill interact with our need for, selection and use of information. I appreciate good storytelling and find the literature written for young adults to be some of the most satisfying literature to read.”

She’s a Fulbright scholar:
Wagner was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship in 2010 to teach at the University of Zambia in Lusaka and help build library services for children and young adults. She will be there from October 2010 to August 2011.

One of her goals is to create “a service-learning relationship” between the University of Zambia and the Lubuto Library Project — a nongovernmental organization that develops open access libraries for African street orphans. “I want to encourage education and library-science students there to come and work with kids in the community library center,” she says.

Teaching at the University of Zambia:
“The Library Studies program has 600 students at the diploma and BA level and started its first graduate class last year with six students,” she says. “I will guest lecture in several courses and also help develop a curriculum for school teacher librarians.”

Why Africa?
“I lived and worked in Lesotho, a small African country, for several years. My older daughter was born there. My interest in that country, its culture, language and people continues.”

On life in Zambia:
“Nyanja is the most common of the 72 languages spoken in Zambia, and I am trying by all means to learn the greetings and simple sentences, which allow me to meet people, take public transportation and shop at local markets. We have a tutor who is an adept and natural teacher.”

Bringing Zambia to St. Kate’s:
Wagner believes her experience in Zambia will help inform the “International Librarianship” class that she teaches at St. Kate's. She also hopes to create opportunities for St. Kate's MLIS students to do internships or study-abroad programs in Zambia or southern Africa.

You can follow her experiences in Zambia on her family blog, "At Home in Lusaka."