On “Mon, Mar 12, 2018 at 11:55 AM,”
I received a cool email from an undergrad student I recently just met interested in libraries:
“I was wondering if you’d be interested in answering a few questions via e-mail about your library career so far. I am completing a tutorial on Library Sciences with Tammera, and one of my assignments is to interview library professionals… Let me know if this interests you!”
At first I was like, “hmmm…. I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request.”
As I remembered the last time, I agreed to answer interview questions about my on/off relationship with my boyfriend: MLIS —
A friend and role model of mine runs this very dope site for black grad students, TrynaGrad.com and recently asked me something similar. I volunteered for this, of course— For him: anything.
His questions were deep. — PhD students…*eyerolls* —
I had to reconsider my life multiple times as I was answering them, took meeee… a few weeks to answer.
So, I had a little PTSD.
Still, I remembered the librarian interviews that I have been doing since starting library school and how useful they have been,
And guess what, y’all?
It was so fun!
If you’re interested, the interview is below:
INTERVIEW ABOUT LIBRARY CAREER
Thank you for taking time to help me out. I’ve included several questions below, so please don’t feel obligated to answer them all. If you have any other information that you think might be helpful, feel free to include it! Thank you again for helping me with this assignment.
- What is your position/title?
Senior Library Technical Asst. – Jane Bancroft Cook Library
- What is your degree and where are you earning it?
Masters of Library and Information Science – iSchool @ Syracuse University’s School of Information
- Do you find online courses to be more challenging than in-person courses?
Very much so. The challenge of being present in your digital environment when your physical environment is different requires constant practice. Digital collaboration is interesting and much easier than I expected, but the natural camaraderie of group work has to be more deliberately created and maintained to build strong connections.
- What are your primary tasks at work?
Currently I work on a team of four Senior Library Technical Assistants (SLTA’s) in the technical services department at JBC library to process course reserves, process library acquisitions, process interlibrary loans through the regional system (UBorrow) and the international system (ILLiad). I also do circulation and basic reference. With more training, I will also be responsible for creating and maintaining the library’s catalog records through the Aleph ILS.
- What interests you about library/information science?
I believe that the librarian’s role in society is to be the keepers and protectors of knowledge and information. Because of this, understanding systems of information access is very important to me, especially as the digital divide becomes wider and wider. I believe in digital literacy for all users of the internet and especially the mobile web and I want to know how to make it possible.
So, I hope to use my scholarship to create new avenues for information access, sharing and preservation in low-resource and culturally marginalized communities. Further, I am interested in broadening the definitions of “valuable” information to apply existing information cycle models to non-traditional forms of knowledge, such as physical and oral knowledge. Most recently, this has manifested in a study of global black spirituality and religious material culture as it adapts to emerging forms of technology.
- How do you view radical librarianship?/What do you think is the library’s role in conversations about controversial subjects?
I believe in radical librarians who use their expertise to be change agents at the person-to-person level all the way up to the policy levels in government. In 2018, librarians have to see themselves as productive and effective members of their professional and personal communities. I think librarians are uniquely situated to affect change in society in meaningful and relevant ways.
Libraries are repositories where knowledge can be stored and accessed, but they should also be places of instruction in research and facilitate of information production for any type of community it serves. Every individuals should have protected intellectual-safe spaces and spaces to collect and freely exchange ideas. I believe libraries are most useful when they consciously and consistently negotiate ways to support intellectual freedom and serve as catalysts for new ideas and new conversations.
- What are some unexpected challenges of your job?
I am an ideas person and I love theories. The science part of libraries has really required me to become more detail-oriented and apply myself to the specifics of classification terms and schemes. But, I am grateful to be able to stretch myself and build a more ambidextrous mind.
- What is your favorite part of your job?
There is so. much. to know. Literally, the infinite amount of information that exists never gets old! Also, I love providing my community with shared low-cost and free resources for their education, their professional development and especially, their personal enlightenment. Watching folks share new knowledge with those around them also never gets old!
- What advice can you give someone just entering the field?
Like anything, there will be parts you don’t like. Write a mission statement or a vision for your library education at the beginning – allow space for revision and updating, of course – but, come back to that vision with every course. This has kept me on track and motivated through the tougher courses. Also, websites are cool professional tools. So consider making one for your library career from the start.
Libraries are surprisingly competitive. So, I would also say to get as much professional experience as possible because the demands as well as the career trajectories for each type of library (public, school, academic and special libraries) are considerably different. Try to work at great libraries with great reputations and do as many cool projects as you can.
- And finally, are you happy with your career choice?
Yes, but after some tweaking and in spurts and bouts. I came into libraries wanting to be a historian, then came into my library education wanting to affect change for the public’s access to information. Both mindsets required adjusting and re configuring to fit with my calling to libraries and where the scholarship in the field has overlooked, yet it hasn’t been enough to deter. I have stubbornly kept on the path for six years now. It is very rewarding to be able to help people in my community achieve intellectual goals and also progress scholarship. I am grateful to have experience in many types of libraries, as well as in many different areas of library services in a short time. Special collections will forever have my heart, but I’m pleasantly surprised and happy with where this career has taken me thus far!
I really enjoyed doing the interview. It actually helped me to reconcile and re-frame some of my qualms with my education.
So, I thought I might publish it here in case someone else had the same questions. I am very grateful to Rachael for allowing me to give feedback and share my perspectives on libraries.
Wishing the best of luck to you, Rachael! I am looking forward to seeing what awesome ideas she brings to the information conversation throughout her career.
If anyone else is interested in chatting about libraries or getting their MILS or my information theories, I’m bout it, bout it.
Feel free to reach out to me whenever you like!
With love and patience,