Project Specialist (Licensing, Technical Services & Resource Sharing) at the BC Libararies Cooperative
In your professional life, do you consider yourself to be a systems thinker? Someone who thinks outside the box? Does this carry over into your personal life? I've always considered myself a systems thinker. When I took Systems as a course from Dr. Vagianos, I was skeptical as to its relevance, but since working in the profession, I think back to that course often. He always challenged me to look at the bigger picture and to re-think conventional workflows, processes and ideas. I've used the knowledge from that course in visioning and defining new software products for libraries, in setting up more efficient workflows across libraries, and in challenging conventional library practices.
What skill is most in-demand for people entering the field today? I encourage people to have technology chops but the real skill is to be able to combine technology know-how with people skills to solve problems. Clear and precise communication, creativity and a desire for quality are essential. The hardest parts are always working with the humans to get them to be on board and agree.
Words of advice for MLIS students? Is there anything you wish you had known when you entered your professional that would be helpful to someone entering it today? I still wish someone would give me advice! I would suggest trying out as many different work environments as possible to determine what kinds of activities you excel at and where you are at your happiest. If you want something (like a job change, or different duties, or more responsibility, or to go part-time, or to work from home) then make a compelling case and ask for it! You won't always get it, but at least you've put yourself out there. At the beginning of your career, know that you might not get your ideal job, but have your ideal job (or jobs) in mind, and work your way towards it. If you have the flexibility of moving around, I'd suggest taking the opportunity to live in as many different places as possible -- there are libraries everywhere!
Career tips for emerging professionals? Always be professional, but don't be afraid to rock the boat and suggest different ways of doing things. Find a work environment and manager that suit you. If it doesn't feel right, then look elsewhere. There are many different ways to be a librarian -- be creative and open to all different types of jobs. You don't have to work in a library to be a librarian.