Meet Rachel Bergquist!

Rachel is the Public Services Librarian at the Squamish Public Library. She grew up in Olympia, Washington, and has lived in a lot of places including New York, Boston, Madrid, Vancouver, and Whitehorse. She did her undergrad in creative writing, and received her MLIS from the University of British Columbia in 2018. She likes doing the Sunday Times crossword puzzle, thrifting, dancing in the kitchen, skiing and snowshoeing, good cappuccinos and flaky pastries.

rachel

Describe yourself in three words.

Puzzles, coffee, friends.

What’s an average day at your library? 

An “average” day means a little bit of everything! Some of my regular tasks include ordering new nonfiction books and eBooks, helping patrons troubleshoot technology, planning adult programs, building partnerships with community organizations, conducting local history research and showing folks how to use our local history collection online, connecting community members to legal resources, circulation, weeding, cutting out paper hearts for displays, laughing with my coworkers, eating leftover cookies in the lunchroom, and lots more.

What was the first job you ever had? 

I grew pumpkins in the summer for a few years when I was a really little kid (like, 5). Before Halloween, I would set up a stand downtown and sell my pumpkins to passers by. I made a killing! I don’t think my pumpkins were anything special, I was just a cute kid. Alas, I left my entrepreneurial ways for…less seasonally-dependent work as a librarian.

What was your first position in the library or information field? 

Apart from a brief internship at the Boston Public Library, I worked at UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in the reading room. But, what feels like my first job was working as a Coop Librarian for Yukon Public Libraries, where I got to travel around the territory visiting community libraries and catching some amazing views while I was at it.

How do you stay up to date in your field?

I stay in touch with my friends from library school. Also Twitter and Instagram, blogs, and podcasts. Librarians are really good at banding together as nerds on the internet.

What is your favourite part of library, archive, or information services?

Helping people. It’s the best feeling in the world when someone comes into the library for help with practically anything and we are able to answer their question, show them a solution, connect them to a resource, or point them in the right direction, ALL for free. It’s pretty amazing.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

I just finished two books that I loved: John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies and Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind. I’m almost always watching The Great British Bake-Off.

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

When I was a kid, I wanted to study bugs, which I still think would be pretty cool sometimes. The Bug Zoo in Victoria is one of my favorite places!

What aspect of library work are you most passionate about? 

I think it’s pretty special that the library is working to create free access to information for everyone in the community. And it is one of the only places in the community where people from different backgrounds, ages, languages, cultures, identities, etc., inter-mingle and interact daily. Not to mention the non-stop amazing customer service I’ve experienced in every library I’ve ever been to.

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Meet Angela Reynolds!

Angela is the Community Engagement Coordinator for Annapolis Valley Regional Library in Nova Scotia. She has been a librarian since the early 1990’s. She’s served on ALA committee’s such as the Notable Recordings for Children Committee and the 2015 Caldecott Committee. Angela is currently on the NSLA Board as the Public Relations and Promotions Convenor.

angela reynolds

What was the first job you ever had? 

My first job was waitressing at a small cafe in Wartrace, TN. I learned a lot about customer service in that job. I served lunch to farmers, guitar makers, WW2 Veterans, families, and rowdy teenagers. We had regulars and we had folks just passing through. A lot like a library….

What was your first position in the library or information field? 

I started this long journey as a work-study job in college. The library was a great place to work: I took the hours no-one else wanted, like Friday night, and since the place was pretty much empty, I got to read, do assignments, and explore the stacks while shelving. There was a rare book room at my college that I made excuses to visit. I loved how it smelled in there, all papery and cool and musty.

How do you stay up to date in your field? 

Conferences, blogs, Twitter, volunteering on committees, working with my local library association, webinars, and journals. I love to network and meet other librarians and find out how I can borrow their ideas for my own job. Let’s connect on Twitter! @annavalley

What is your favourite part of library, archive, or information services work? 

The connections we make with one another. Libraries connect humans in a special way- we see everyone from all ages, birth to death, from all socio-economic classes, poor to rich. We connect people to books and information, and librarians connect to each other. I love a good librarian party, and talking with other book people: patrons, friends, librarians, authors, publishers.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

At any given time I have a stack of picture books in my house. I read piles and piles of picture books. I’m also whiling away the dark Winter hours with British mystery DVDs I borrow from our library. Right now, it is Endeavour

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

I’d like to fantasize that I would own a children’s bookshop. A little cozy store filled with light and books and events that brought families in to share the love of books. Either that or a “Harry Potter Party For Hire” business that paid me to travel the world.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? 

I once had a manager that forced me to do Management Training. It went on for months – different workshops and classes. She said someday I would thank her. Thanks, Eva.

What’s the coolest thing in your office or on your desk?

I have a couple of framed picture-book illustrator pieces that make me happy on a regular basis.

What aspect of library work are you most passionate about? 

I guess I would have to say books. I still get a thrill when I open a new book, take a big sniff of that lovely ink. I drool over digitized manuscripts from the British Library. I read incessantly, and I love to introduce people to books they will fall in love with. Libraries are doing amazing things that are not 100% about books, but we also have this huge storehouse of story, and I sincerely hold a belief that stories will save humanity from whatever dire circumstances we find ourselves in.

Meet Nancy McPhee!

Nancy has worked at Hamilton Public Library for four years, currently as an Arts, Literature and Culture Community Librarian. Nancy was born in Alberta, completed two art degrees in Victoria and Montreal, an MLIS in Halifax in 2013, and now calls Hamilton home. She lives with her husband, two children, and a bunch of grumpy cats. In her spare time she makes art, is a member of The Assembly Gallery, and recently ran her first 5K.

nancy

What’s an average day at your library? 

I’m based at our Central library, a modern 6 storey building in downtown Hamilton, ON.  We’re attached to a mall, a Farmer’s Market, an arena, and down the street from the main arts district. We have 27,000 customers per week at Central and are open 7 days a week. In addition to regular desk shifts I personally run 6-8 exhibition spaces across the system, so the month end is always a busy time with deinstalling, installing, planning social media posts, making signage and planning receptions. As a co-lead for the Arts, Culture and Literature working group, I head or oversee our system-wide programs like Hamilton Reads and work closely with our Communications and DT departments on events and program planning. I strongly believe in the ‘touch paper once’ rule, and occasionally follow it.

What was the first job you ever had? 

Picking strawberries at a farm in Vulcan, AB. The first job I loved was at a video store called Pic-A-Flic in Victoria, BC. It is (still!) a small indie shop that employed a bunch of movie nerds. It was always busy with customers asking for recommendations, and everyone chatting about their new favourite film.

What was your first position in the library or information field?

As a Visual Arts undergraduate at the University of Victoria I had a part-time job with their Photo Services department digitizing their promotional images and creating a basic searchable database. I had no idea that would lead to a career.

How do you stay up to date in your field? 

As I’m on the events side of library work, staying up to date means looking beyond the library into the community and thinking about how to create events that either resonate with our existing customers, or that will invite people who don’t regularly use the library. Sometimes that means presenting cultural events similar to the ones already occurring in the community, but in an accessible space, or earlier in the day. Sometimes it means thinking about what the library can offer that is unique. And sometimes it’s a simple as allocating space for community groups who are doing interesting and meaningful things.  Within the library realm, I attend OLA and watch webinars, and these are useful for thinking about strategy and audience, and for meeting authors and publishers.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

A lot of Afrofuturism, fantasy and sci-fi, Canlit and literary. Some recent favourites are R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy WarIn Search of the Perfect Singing Flamingo by Claire Tacon, Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk and Banana Yoshimoto’s The Lake. Thrillers are my go-to when my insomnia gets bad but I rarely remember them. I’m enjoying the TV series Cardinal, set in a fictional Thunder Bay-type city, and rewatching Seinfeld as my in-the- background-while-cooking show.

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

Theatre management or city planning.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? 

For years I floated around from contract to contract thinking that at some point, something would catch. Getting a part-time permanent position at a large institution has allowed me to grow upwards through the organization.  No one told me that as advice, although my husband did (nicely!) suggest that I get a real job.

What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk?

The Ergotron sit-stand unit on my desk. It is a life-saver.

Meet Joanne Monner!

Joanne is the Library and Archives Manager for the Milo Library in southern Alberta.

joanne

Describe yourself in three words. 

Dedicated, passionate, adaptable.

What’s an average day at your library? 

I’m not sure there ever is an average day in the Milo Library and that’s what makes this job so fulfilling. As a single part-time employee, each day is different. No matter what else is on the agenda, manning the desk is the priority. Book orders, processing, reference and archival questions and services are varied and can take substantial time and effort. Interacting with people, both young and old is my favourite part of the job, but the highlight of my week is running the preschool Rhyme Time program for the last 20 years.

What was the first job you ever had? 

The first official job I ever had was as a hairdresser, and prior to that I babysat for a lot of families while in Jr. and Sr. High School.

What was your first position in the library or information field? 

The first position I ever held in the library world was as a volunteer Board member when I was the Community School Coordinator. When the Library Manager left to work at Chinook Arch, I was encouraged to apply for the job and haven’t looked back. In 2004, our Board decided to build a library, and after raising all the funds ourselves, and with lots of volunteer labour, our building was complete in November 2007. We went from one room in the school to a building of over 5200 square feet. Part of the building plan was to have an Archives Room in the basement, so we became an active member of the Archives Society of Alberta. Gathering and archiving the local historical documents has been very beneficial to our community. Providing tours through our library is a very rewarding part of the job.

What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk? 

The coolest thing in my office is the original Milo Post Office Wicket that was given to the family when that building was closed down. It has been restored and built into the library. The reverse side holds the “mail” for each Board member and local organizations.

Why do you think library work is important? 

In this world of “fake news” and an internet full of misinformation, libraries are more vital then ever. Helping patrons find the right information is very satisfying.

post office wicket

Meet Heather Nicholson!

Heather is the Adult Services Librarian at the Strathcona County Library located in Sherwood Park, Alberta. Heather resides in Edmonton and loves traveling, SCUBA diving, gardening, improv comedy, riding her bicycle, and hanging out with her husband (preferably while doing one of the above activities).

heatherDescribe yourself in three words. 

Outgoing, hard-working, a little bit goofy (that’s more than 3 words – sorry)

What’s an average day at your library? 

The only guarantee is that there is no average day at a library. But my time is pretty evenly divided between collection management, references, digital literacy training, and adult programming.

What was the first job you ever had? 

Apart from babysitting and temporary summer jobs, my first job was as a cashier in a department store in the small Alberta town I grew up in. I mostly found it boring. I think the owner hired a local high school student as a way to help give job experience but apart from running the cash register and dusting I was not allowed to do much of anything. One in awhile they would let me make a window display. I still love making displays!

What was your first position in the library or information field?

I became a librarian in my early 30s. Before that I was a teacher. I’m glad I taught as there are a lot of transferable skills that I still use from being a teacher, but I think I always knew it was not where I would be for the long haul. My last teaching job was helping open up a new school for Canadian kids in Doha, Qatar. For the first year we had no library at all and I became the advocate of building a library. The principal of the school helped me secure some funds and she let me build the collection. I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew it was important and that I loved the work. It was she that encouraged me to pursue my MLIS.

How do you stay up to date in your field? 

My library subscribes to a tonne of professional publications. I try to read as many of them as possible. Besides that I go to conferences, follow some professional Facebook groups, and learn from my colleagues.

What is your favourite part of library, archive, or information services work? 

Sharing in people’s “Aha” moments. Whether it is learning something new at a library program, connecting with a book, or sending their first email, I get a lot of joy from helping to facilitate and getting to witness these moments.

What are you reading or watching right now?

I just finished a book called Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithmsby Hannah Fry. It’s all about how algorithms are being used to make decisions in law, medicine, transportation and many other aspects of our lives. It’s a very readable book and it offers a pretty balanced perspective on both the positive and negative aspects of involving machines in decision-making. Don’t worry, I always have a fun novel on the go, too.

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

In my dream world I would probably be working in comedy. I do improv acting and sketch comedy in my free time. But realistically it would probably be something education related.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? 

Do what you love. We spend too much time at work to not do something we find meaningful and rewarding.

What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk? 

My Shushing Wand. When I was in library school my husband made a joke that, like in Harry Potter, I was not allowed to use my “shushing wand” outside of school and I could only wear cardigans with 3 or fewer buttons. When I graduated from my MLIS he made me a wand, bought me a big gold button, and had them both framed. It was silly and terribly romantic at the same time!

What aspect of library work are you most passionate about? 

The people. Libraries are not about books, we are about community. We all know the stereotype of the introverted librarian, but I am an extreme extrovert. There are so many interesting people who come to a public library. My best days are the ones when I run a program, teach a class and/or work a busy shift on the reference desk.

Meet Alison Watson!

Alison is the Teen Services Librarian at the St. Albert Public Library. This unique position allows her to collaborate with her fantastic colleagues from both Children’s Services and Adult Services. Alison manages the Youth Adult collections and plans popular programs for teens. She loves the creative aspects of her job, and in recent years has designed interactive summer reading games and escape rooms.

alison

Photo Credit: Shane Allen, 2019. 

What’s an average day at your library?

I work a few hours a week at the Information Desk. Today’s reference tasks include helping job seekers navigate the world of online job applications, helping patrons borrow eBooks or eMovies for the first time, and assisting someone with finding their next good read. I regularly put fresh books on the teen displays to keep them looking inviting. Back at my desk I spend time ordering new young adult fiction books, plan what technology I will feature at the library table for a junior high school open house (Ozobots or littleBits Synth kits?), and create an online version of a teen booklist. At the end of the day, I facilitate the Teen Hangout program for around thirty energetic teens and tweens.

What was the first job you ever had?

My first job was life guarding at an outdoor pool in a city. I have fond memories of this job and two subsequent outdoor life guarding jobs in small communities in the Rocky Mountains. The pay was decent, and the perks included free soda from the concession and lots of sunshine.

How do you stay up to date in your field? 

To stay up to date in the public library field, I connect with colleagues from other libraries who also work with teens to share ideas for programs and services. I stay current with periodicals like School Library Journal, and I present at conferences (which comes with the bonus of attending other conference sessions and networking opportunities). Readers’ advisory is an important part of my job, and being an avid reader in my spare time helps immensely. I read many YA books so that I can confidently recommend books to teens based on their interests.

What is your favourite part of library, archive, or information services? 

The thing I like best about working in a public library is that we serve everyone. On any given day, I interact with patrons of all ages from many different backgrounds, and I enjoy the chance to brighten their day.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

I’m reading Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka and Washington Black by Esi Edugyan. I’m watching Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’m on Season 5, Episode 7, where Data and Picard impersonate Romulans in order to follow Spock into Romulan space. Revisiting this series is eye-opening for me. I see how many modern technologies have been inspired by science fiction. The Enterprise crew are walking around with digital tablets!

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

I think it would be fun to work at CBC Radio.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? 

The teachers and librarians I admire have taught me the importance of trying new things. I feel the greatest sense of accomplishment when I work outside of my comfort zone.

What’s the coolest thing in your office or on your desk? 

My favourite thing on my desk is my fern plant – I love the way its feathery fronds unfurl. It’s a living, growing thing that I can look at while I’m coming up with my next big idea.

Meet Heather Martin-Detka!

Heather is the Library Manager at the Taber Public Library in Taber, Alberta. Heather graduated from the University of Alberta’s MLIS program in 2015. She’s a prairie girl who loves patio season and following your pet’s Instagram account.

heather

What was the first job you ever had? 

Counting flyers for my Dad’s pharmacy.

What was your first position in the library or information field?

First Information-related position was as a travel advisor at the World’s Largest Dinosaur in my hometown of Drumheller. First library position was as a summer student at Strathcona County Library.

How do you stay up to date in your field? 

Following the ALATT Facebook group, attending conferences, reading professional literature.

What is your favourite part of library, archive, or information services work? 

Getting to pull out the Nancy Drew skills! Whether doing some sleuthing and finding the information a patron wants, or doing an assessment.

What are you reading or watching right now?

I am currently making my way through Comedians of the World on Netflix, and I’ve got my bookmark in Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

I’d be running a doggy daycare.

What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk? 

Depends on your definition of cool. I think enamel pins are cool (they’re totally coming back), and I have one of Scully calling Mulder on my name tag.

What makes you passionate about library work? 

As I told the old guy who stopped me in the shelves the other day, “I LOVE connecting people to the information they need!”

Meet Nicole Penton!

Nicole is a Library Technician at the Lethbridge Public Library. She is the mother of two daughters who are 16 months apart in age, so there isn’t much time for fun! She loves to take her dogs to off-leash parks and play board games with her friends.

nicole

Describe yourself in three words. 

Happy, mother, determined.

What’s an average day at your library? 

We help a lot of the vulnerable population at our library, so it is really hard to describe average. Some days are better than others, but lately it is busy since we are celebrating our 100th anniversary this year with free library cards!

What was the first job you ever had? 

Cashier at a swimming pool.

What was your first position in the library or information field? 

It is actually my current position, which is a Library Technician.

How do you stay up to date in your field?

Conferences, attending training seminars, talking with colleagues.

What is your favourite part of library, archive, or information services work? 

I love the people. I have amazing colleagues and I enjoy helping the public.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

I am currently on a graphic novel kick, so I am reading all the comics about Venom. I am also watching Daredevil on Netflix.

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

I would love to be a meteorologist, but I don’t think I have the math skills!

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? 

Don’t ever stop learning and don’t judge others unless you are perfect yourself.

What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk? 

Currently I have two Pug pillows! I love Pugs, so these super soft pillows make me so happy!

What makes you passionate about library work? 

I love that libraries don’t censor their users. I believe very strongly that public libraries should have something to offend everyone, because that means we are doing our jobs correctly. You want to learn how to build a house, we can do that. You want to learn how to pick up the opposite sex, we can do that too. Want to learn how to help your aging parent, we can send you in the right direction, and it is ALL judgement free.

Why do you think library work is important? 

We put our communities first, and give them the resources to help make their lives easier. We give a teenager the skills on how to write a resume, give a homeless customer somewhere safe to warm up while they look for affordable housing, help an elderly couple learn how to use their new e-readers, there is no limit to what a library can do.

Meet Annelise Dowd!

Annelise is the Access Services Librarian at the University of Northern British Columbia Geoffrey R. Weller Library located on the unceded territory of the Lheidli T’enneh. In this position, Annelise oversees web services, circulation, systems, and interlibrary loans in addition to serving as the English and Psychology liaison. When not at the library, Annelise is likely cycling (weather permitting), reading a graphic novel, or wrangling friends together to sing karaoke.

annelise

What’s an average day at your library?

I think nearly every librarian will share the sentiment that an average day doesn’t really exist! I work at a small academic library, so we all wear our fair share of hats. On a given day, I might be investigating new software to purchase, planning, or assisting students in my liaison areas. I also teach information literacy sessions and was fortunate enough to co-teach a Digital Humanities course in the English program this past year. Certain times of the year teaching is at the forefront of my duties and preparation and teaching takes up a good portion of my day.

What was the first job you ever had? 

Tossing pizza dough at Panago in high school. The smell of pizza never quite left my clothes for two years.

What was your first position in the library or information field? 

I was a student reference librarian at the Concordia University Library. I received my Master of Information Studies from McGill, and as a hopeless anglophone I think of myself as extremely lucky to have obtained a student position in an academic library in a bilingual city. Thanks Concordia!

How do you stay up to date in your field?

I joined Twitter this year and follow incredible librarians who I greatly admire. This has been one of the easiest ways to keep up to date with their work and makes me aware of the major conversations that are happening in the field. I keep up with certain specific journals that are relevant to my position and also ingest as much critical librarianship content as possible, namely from In the Library with a Lead Pipe. I usually try to make it to a few conferences, and highlights from this year include the library technology conference Access 2018 in Hamilton and the CAPAL 2018 conference in Regina.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee, Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, and Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Umoja Noble are some of my recent favourites. I joined GoodReads in 2018 and became more than a little obsessed with attaining my yearly reading goal, so I’m reading more than ever out of sheer competitiveness. As for TV, I spend way too much time watching the Japanese reality TV series, Terrace House. It’s the most calming show on Netflix and I can’t stop talking about it.

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

I was working with children with developmental disabilities and in the mental health field, so I probably would still be doing something along those lines if I didn’t pursue librarianship.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? 

As I’m still a very new librarian, the best career advice I received was to not compare myself to “superstar” librarians, who typically have been in the field for a considerable amount of time. I still slip into the imposter syndrome, but I’m getting better at accepting where I’m at this early in my career and acknowledging my accomplishments.

What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk? 

A pair of hand-knit cacti, one gifted from a dear friend and one from my crafty co-worker. I’m also a very fidgety person, so I have a number of fidgety devices like an arm slinky and silly putty on hand too.

What aspect of library work are you most passionate about? 

Accessibility! I fully believe that if libraries aren’t accessible both in-person and online to all users we aren’t doing our job as librarians.

Why do you think library work is important? 

While I try to be mindful of the ways in which we librarians can fall into vocational awe, see Fobazi Ettarh’s terrific article on the subject, I do think that library work has a hand in creating a more equitable world. Working in an academic library, I think this manifests in the relationships we build with our students and providing tools that can help them find success in higher education.

Meet Beth Kilfoy!

Beth Kilfoy is a Collections Librarian at the Edmonton Public Library where she is responsible for selecting the adult non-fiction, English language learning, and non-traditional collections for all 21 branches. After dealing in non-fiction all day, she loves to come home to her husband and two cats and curl up with a fluffy romance or cozy mystery novel (if they happen to feature a librarian, even better).

beth

What’s an average day at your library? 

Working in one of the behind the scenes departments at my library makes for a really different average day than most librarians in a public library. I spend large chunks of a typical day evaluating non-fiction material to add to our libraries collections (both physical and digital), as well as responding to customer suggestions and answering any collections-related questions from staff as they come up.

What was your first position in the library or information field? 

My first library job was working at the Book and Record Depository (BARD) at the University of Alberta Libraries. My major tasks were 1) sorting materials that had been relocated from one of the other University libraries into the boxes that were used for storing them in the BARD warehouse and 2) pulling material from the human-height level shelves that had been requested by a library user. There was always at least one really cool item I pulled every day.

How do you stay up to date in your field?

I try to stay on top of some of the professional journals including Library Journal. As I’m focused on collections development, I also spend a lot of time looking at a lot of review sources both within the library field and without.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

I’m about halfway through Renegades by Marissa Meyer, a YA novel set in a world filled with superheroes and super villains. It meshes well with Titans, which my husband and I just started watching on Netflix. All the superpowers!

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

I’ve always been an organization nerd so maybe a professional organizer or maybe even an event planner.

What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk? 

They may not necessarily be cool but I’m very fond of the Commander Riker and Counselor Troi Pop dolls on my desk.

What makes you passionate about library work? 

I think it’s so valuable to connect people, no matter what their background, to the information they need and want in whatever format that works best for them. To help connect someone with material that might help change their viewpoint, expand their worldview, or just provide them with some cool or weird piece of trivia, is an important part of what I love about my job specifically.