By Hailey Persinger
Killeen Daily Herald
After her high school graduation, Dawn Harris made plans for nursing school. Instead, she fell into a career that helps people in a completely different way.
Harris, the assistant director for the Killeen City Library System, directs Killeen residents to information they need, finds facts for curious library patrons and on some days, helps people find documents to trace their family history.
Though she grew up going to the library frequently, she said she never thought about it as a career. When she registered for her first college courses, the illness of a family member compelled her to go into the medical field as a nurse.
But after a few classes, she realized nursing wasn't for her and registered for library science classes as she continued her college career.
"It clicked," she said. "And I thought, 'This is for me.'"
She now has a master's degree in library science from the University of Texas in Austin. Harris said the push to get her master's degree came from Deanna Frazee, the library system director.
"I hadn't really pushed myself to go on to school," she said. "Once I got going, I kept going."
While she could go back to school again for a doctorate, Harris said people who get such degrees typically teach or work behind the scenes in archiving, both of which would take her away from the library's front lines.
"Connecting people with the information they're looking for," she said is her favorite part about the job. "You're able to take them to that. That's a major part of librarianship."
Though it wasn't in her job description, Harris has also compiled and archived historical photos of people and places in Central Texas. The project started as a Capstone project she was assigned while working toward her bachelor's degree at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton.
While the library science program at the school had a list of approved projects, Harris combined her love for books and history and created her own assignment.
The 120-hour project is now a library resource to which Harris directs families looking for information about their family history.
"It's just linked to my love of history," she said. "You want to help them connect to that."
Contact Hailey Persinger at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568.