April Hines: UF’s Research Ninja

A teacher, a social worker, a writer or an actress — as a child, that’s what April Hines would tell people she wanted to be when she grew up. Now, she has a job that she says combines all four.

Hines is the University of Florida’s journalism and mass communications librarian. She graduated from UF with a degree in journalism in 2004.

Hine’s love for libraries started in childhood. She said her mom took her to the public library almost every weekend.

“We didn’t have a lot of money, so that was our main source of entertainment,” Hines said.

She described her childhood self as a “voracious reader” who also spent substantial time combing through her library’s extensive collection of VHS tapes. Her junior and senior years of college, Hines worked as a student assistant in UF’s Education Library.

Hines was a first-generation college student. She said she lacked support and guidance when she first came to UF, and it took a while to figure out her study habits.

“I never in a million years thought I would go into academia,” Hines said.

She had been on the magazine writing track and intended to have a career in that field. However, Hines said, once she graduated, she realized that she didn’t have the money or resources to move to a place where she could find a magazine writing job.

She took a job at the circulation desk in the Lawton Chiles Legal Information Center, the UF law library — a position that, at the time, she believed was temporary.

Hines worked there for three years and received a promotion to a full-time position. Then, it dawned on her.  

“I started to realize that the reason why I always ended up back in libraries was because I loved libraries,” she said.

Hines got her master’s degree in library and information science from the University of South Florida. She took classes online while working full-time in the UF library system.

Hines realized that a lot of the skills she had learned while obtaining her journalism degree, like sharing information, were applicable to her new career field. She said her favorite part of writing had always been doing research.

When the position for journalism librarian opened, Hines knew it was her chance.

“This is my one shot,” she said. “This is the full circle moment of all of my experience and education.”

She got the position.

Hines’s office in Library West is a visual representation of all the different roles her job entails. On her desk, there’s a package of fish-shaped sticky notes that will be used in an event the library is hosting.

Behind her is a wall covered in “thank you” notes from students she’s helped.

Hines said her job is full of positive interactions, from giving students research assistance for difficult classes to helping community members find their loved one’s obituary in the microfilm collection.

“I don’t know if there are a lot of jobs where you get that,” she said.

It’s not all about answering questions in the library, though.

When she was a student at UF, Hines received a C in reporting. Now, she’s invited to reporting classes to give presentations on how to find and use information.

She’s also the chair of Library West’s Creative Team, which is focused on public relations and marketing. They plan outreach events for different times throughout the year, like National Library Week and finals week.

Hines also does her own personal research. Librarians are tenure-track faculty at UF.

With the variety of tasks she performs each day, Hines said the most difficult part of her job is having to explain what a modern librarian does.

“I’ve had people to say to me, ‘Oh, you’re a librarian. That must be so nice and such a quiet job where you can read books all day,’” she said. “It’s so not that at all.”

Hines said she and the other librarians at UF are always having to advocate for themselves and the importance of their roles.

Hines wants students at UF to explore all that the seven libraries and over 80 subjects librarians have to offer.

“There’s life beyond West and Marston,” she said.

When she’s not at work, Hines enjoys being in nature and spending time with her 4-year-old son — and, of course, she stills loves to read.

Hines said she takes pride in her transition from first-generation college student to UF staff member to UF faculty member.

“I was able to find something that I loved and make it my own and still succeed,” she said, “but by doing it my way.”