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.

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Meet Jessica Leslie!

Jessica is a newer hire at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary, Alberta, working as an Instruction Librarian. She graduated in August 2017 with her MLIS from Western University. Prior to accepting that role, she worked as a Branch Librarian with St. Catharines Public Library.

jessica

Describe yourself in three words. 

I would describe myself as curious, intuitive, and compassionate.

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

My favourite part of library work is helping patrons/students/faculty find what they need. Some patrons come to the desk unsure of what they are looking for and conducting a successful reference interview to get a clear idea of what they need, and then providing it to them is a gratifying experience. In my new role as an instruction librarian I have also discovered that teaching is another of my favourite things to do. Listening to students engage critically with information and having discussions with them invigorates me.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

I’m a multiples kind of reader so right now I am reading: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde and In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Mate.

What makes you passionate about library work? 

Seeing the impact library work has on a community is what makes me passionate about library work. I can see this at the immediate level when dealing with individual patrons, and on a larger scale when reflecting on the library’s role in the community. I’m also passionate about identifying areas of improvement and connecting with community members that are not currently part of our patron base.

Why do you think library work is important? 

I think library work is important because libraries and library workers represent an alternative to the status quo. The capitalist culture we live in that drives us to consume, and consume mindlessly is overwhelming our world. Libraries and library workers provide a humanizing space for people to exist without reaching for their wallets. Library work encourages people to become empowered and to think critically about the world around them. Library work strives to advocate for the underrepresented, we can always do better with this but I feel that library work can lead to lifting up voices that have traditionally been silenced.

 

Meet Kelly Murray!

Kelly Murray has worked with the Bibliotheque Allard Regional Library for 10 years, the last six as Head Librarian and prior to that as Assistant Librarian. Her past recent work experience includes: municipal clerk at a local municipal office and owning/operating her own bookkeeping business. She went to business college many moons ago so administration and bookkeeping have been a part of her life for a very long time. She presently holds a volunteer position with the executive as Treasurer and with the Advocacy Committee of the Manitoba Library Association.

kelly

Describe yourself in three words. 

Loyal, conscientious, and determined.

How do you stay up to date in your field? 

Online webinars and eCourses, regional library meetings, and conferences.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

I’m reading a few things: Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz, The Siren by Kiera Cass and I’m reading a fiction work by a friend that would like it reviewed before it is in print. I also have a couple of non-fiction books on the go.

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

I have to chuckle at this, I’ve always said party planning, however at my age I think I’d plan it and hire staff to run it.

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

A small stuffed Olaf (Frozen). I have a minion for summer. My office has a giant window that the patrons can see in when passing by. I try to keep something fun in it when they go by. However, sometimes my office window is covered with passive programming so my stuffies stay hidden.

What aspect of library work are you most passionate about? 

Connecting patrons with what they are seeking: books, eBooks, how to programs, etc. The satisfaction of helping someone learn something is my biggest reward.

Why do you think library work is important? 

Libraries are a resource to every individual no matter their ability, background or beliefs. Libraries offer information in print and electronic format, provide access to computers and the internet and provide education/fun through programming to the public. We are your physical search engine!!

Meet Ron Knowling!

Ron Knowling is the Manager of Public Library Services for the Government of Nunavut based in Baker Lake, Nunavut. Ron was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland and has a B.A. and M.A. in Medical History from Memorial University and an M.L.I.S. from McGill. In addition to this, he enjoys cooking and walking his dog “Friday.”

ron

Describe yourself in three words. 

High functioning sociopath – I have no pretense to a Holmesian intellect (my memory palace is more of a shed) but I have a tendency when people are going in one direction to go in the other. My parents used to describe me as “bolshie.” Opposition and debate are the best ways to find the “right/best” path to a solution however too often we take the easiest path.

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

Lending Services Librarian at the St. John’s Public Library. It was here I discovered the incredible impact one person could have on a library service with proactive public promotions and community relations. My supervisor loathed me but the results spoke for themselves.

How do you stay up to date in your field? 

In the sense that it is meant here I’m not sure I do. However, I find observing technology trends and thinking about library services and comparing them to other community services can be helpful. With the digital revolution libraries are still in the process of redeveloping themselves as information hub, community spaces, and community resource nexus. Added onto this has to be the truism that every community library is different just as every community is different, we might remember Ariel’s words to Ferdinand at the start of Shakespeare’s The Tempest

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

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

Everyone has needs. We need food, shelter, we need warmth and clean clothes and safety but we also need “joy” and “laughter” and “beauty.” Too often it seems we forget about the latter needs which are to my mind as important as the former. Working with our staff we have been able to provide sewing machines, video games, graphic novels and a variety of DVDs. Knowing that something we worked on as a team made a difference in people’s lives is very rewarding. This Christmas, library services in Iqaluit gave out spaghetti and bottled pasta sauce to patrons in case they might be food insecure over the holidays. Libraries are changing into something “rich and strange.”

What are you reading or watching right now? 

Critical Role – Campaign 2, a web-series which is broadcast on Twitch and Alpha featuring eight Los Angeles voice actors (C list) playing Dungeons and Dragons. Probably the most original pieces of entertainment available.

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

Probably some type of community development work. Perhaps community radio or social work with a community outreach element to it. Healing people is incredibly important in our communities and much of that can be accomplished by people talking and listening to each other. This in its essence is a model for civil society and incredibly important for the creation of sustainable communities and democracy.

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

“You’ll never amount to anything.” Thanks Dad!

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

My Lamy Vista fountain pen. It is beautiful and a pleasure to write with. It makes me want to write about funny, smart, sarcastic people in challenging situations. Think of The Lion in Winter meets Michael Frayne’s Copenhagan.

What aspect of library work are you most passionate about? 

Public programming and community relations. Every community is different and once you get below the surface each community is filled with amazing and varied people who have incredible skill-sets. Programming and community relations are the best way to learn about those unique capacities and bring them to the service of the community.

Why do you think library work is important? 

Public libraries are part of the bourgeois consensus which emerged in the mid-nineteenth century that capitalist society could not survive without broadly based participation and access to information. At its core this was an attempt to co-opt the emerging industrial working class and to a large extent it succeeded but in the process it created a powerful tool for building democracy and civil society. Whether it was intentional or not public libraries are a great force for building democracy and personal and community development.

Meet Janey Thompson!

Janey Thompson works at the Alaska State Library Historical Collections as a Librarian and Project Coordinator for the National Digital Newspaper Program, sponsored by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Despite living in Southern California for the majority of her life, Janey earned her MLIS at the University of Washington, Seattle, and has been living in Juneau for the past year. Depending on the season, she enjoys berry picking and wildlife viewing.

janey

Describe yourself in three words. 

Curious, quirky, resourceful.

What’s an average day at your library?

I check Chronicling America’s website first thing every morning at the Alaska State Library Historical Collections to see whether any new Alaska historical newspapers have been posted. So far, there are 18 newspapers published between 1899-1923, and we anticipate many more to be added. I input newspaper metadata at a page level for each issue to be incorporated online. I frequently visit our cold storage to retrieve microfilm reels to be duplicated and mailed to our vendor to preform OCR (optical character recognition). I also compose weekly social media outreach posts on Instagram and WordPress, usually based on a theme relevant to a given week or holiday. On occasion, I will fill in on the Reference Desk in the Research Center for a fellow Historical Collections coworker. Lately I’ve been researching and writing essays on newspaper titles featured on Chronicling America. Each time seems like a juggling act and I enjoy wearing many hats! 

What was the first job you ever had? 

In high school, I was lucky to have a volunteer opportunity with the Santa Barbara Museum of Art as a member of their teenage outreach committee, which led to my participation in the Museum’s annual teen mural project. To help promote a retrospective exhibit of Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo, myself and other local high school students painted a mural inspired by his artwork that was then displayed at the back entrance throughout the next year.

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

I worked in the Special Collections at the A.K. Smiley Public Library Heritage Archive in Redlands, California for the first two years of undergrad. My work primarily involved inputting data from the 1910 census into a spreadsheet. Redlands is a small town, so I was able to recognize many of the addresses listed. I also worked on the reference desk, copy-edited newsletters written by the curator, and added items to the internal database. My favorite item from the collection was the thousands of citrus crate labels, as Redlands was once the foremost producer of Washington navel oranges.

How do you stay up to date in your field? 

I’ve found that social media is the most immediate way to keep up to date with other institutions and developments in the library and information field. Attending conferences are helpful in that I get to see similar projects and learn from my colleagues in the field.

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

I love the ability to learn new things through helping patrons with their research. Based on reference questions I’ve received, I’ve been able to research a supposedly haunted hotel in Seward, the beginnings of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, a child born on the Inside Passage ferry, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, a sea serpent sighting, and the implementation of the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) – all within Alaska historical newspapers. It’s hugely rewarding to be able to find information and resources, both for the patron and myself.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

I enjoy reading nonfiction, and lately I’ve been reading a great deal of Lawrence Wright’s works. He’s most famous for The Looming Tower, his Pulitzer-prize winning chronicle of Al-Qaeda, but I’ve also read Going Clear, and I’ve especially enjoyed one of his earlier works, Saints and Sinners. Juneau is very fortunate to have a small theatre, the Goldtown Nickelodeon, that features off-the-grid movies, and I try to frequent it as much as possible. I’ve been able to watch a number of indie films and it’s great to be able to support a local business. At home, I’ve been enjoying The Great British Baking Show on Netflix and Sharp Objects on HBO. I’ve read all of Gillian Flynn’s works and I love seeing them adapted to film and television.

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

I love graphic design and theatre, and a great deal of my undergraduate courses revolved around costume design. I still make sketches and sew clothes, but mainly as a hobby. I think in another life I would have liked to be a sign painter, based on my love of typography.

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

Get to know your coworkers and learn from them! Each day I learn from my colleagues and the areas of study in which they specialize, and have sometimes been able to collaborate with them on projects.

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

I attended the Alaska Historical Society’s annual conference in Nome this past September and had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of visiting the original offices of the Nome Nugget, the oldest newspaper still in operation in Alaska. Antique letterpresses, woodblocks, and drafting tables, as well as bound volumes of the paper are still in the original building. I bought a t-shirt from their office with its masthead printed across the front. It’s currently pinned to my cubicle and it’s a great conversation piece.

What aspect of library work are you most passionate about? 

Film history is a major interest of mine, and I seriously considered enrolling in a program dedicated to moving image preservation. Working with newspapers on microfilm has magnified the importance of preservation, given the rapid deterioration of newsprint, and the poor microfilm quality. It’s really a race against time to reformat analog materials and media, and to maintain access to original copies.

Why do you think library work is important? 

There is a major misconception that everything is available online, but that’s not true. And, especially in the case of newspapers, if online access exists, there are so many paywalls that block or limit access. That’s where libraries come in: projects like Chronicling America help those who seek newspapers that can be accessed anywhere online, free of charge. I’m proud to be able to help make these valuable primary sources. Newspapers directly reflect the values of a community, and we are learning new things everyday based on what we’ve been able to find in papers that have finally been indexed and text-searchable.

Meet Patrick Siebold!

Patrick is a library manager for the Vancouver Island Regional Library and oversees the four branches on Haida Gwaii. He has been working in libraries for the past five years or so, having graduated in 2013. Previously, he managed camps of unruly treeplanters in the summer and wrote evidence reviews for the Ministry of Health in the winter.

patrick

What’s an average day at your library? 

The great thing about my current position is the variety. Aside from the requisite email checking I get to be a library generalist. Part of each day is spent in front of the computer doing administrative work like catching up on payroll and dealing with scheduling issues and recruitment. After that is a mix: I plan programs, events, and community engagement, meet and collaborate with my amazing staff, practice new songs for my weekly story time, prepare and practice puppet shows, add photos and posts to our social media feeds. Sometimes there is a little readers advisory and reference work thrown in there as well as some tech help with seniors. And last but not least in the collection maintenance work and travel between branches.

What was the first job you ever had? 

I washed dishes and bussed tables at a small South Asian Restaurant owned by friends of my family.

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

While I was in library school I worked as an intern for a summer at the BC archives in Victoria. This was a really interesting and awakening experience. I spent most of my time cataloguing but I spent one day a week on the reference desk. It was this time on the reference desk that I started to really look forward to. After this, I shifted my focus in school towards reference work.

How do you stay up to date in your field? 

Listservs, routing lists, conferences, associations, colleagues, social media, online journals, Pro D and continuing studies courses… not necessarily in that order.

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

I love helping seniors get more tech savvy and teaching people about online resources. I also love that I get paid to play my guitar, albeit poorly, for children.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

Just read The Broken Earth trilogy by NK Jemisin. Watching season one of The Man in the High Castle. 

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

Be willing to travel to rural or remote communities for work. The work there can be the most challenging, and interesting.

Meet Rotem Diamant!

Rotem is a zine librarian and artist who grew up in the prairies. She strongly believes in equitable access to information and resources, as well as community spaces, like the Toronto Zine Library, that can bring people together to exchange knowledge and share stories. She likes to tell stories through zines, illustrations, and comics. Her most recent project is a non-profit community-driven comics library.

rotem

What’s an average day at your library?

Our library is a volunteer-run community space that holds thousands of zines, which are independently created publications (and labours of love). On an average day, we provide reference services, catalogue zine donations, update our social media, as well as share our personal experiences with zines and exchange DIY knowledge and tips! We also participate in zine fairs and host workshops at our physical library and abroad. Our goal is to promote zines as a method of open communication and free expression. Recently, we migrated to an open source Integrated Library System (ILS) in order to make our collection publicly accessible online and searchable. We are now busy scanning covers for all zines in the collection as well as adding comprehensive tags to showcase diversity and the scope of the collection. The Toronto Zine Library is located on the second floor of the Tranzac Club, a lovely community venue in downtown Toronto commonly used for music events and meetups, so often, later in the evening, we get to listen to the bands that play downstairs.

What was the first job you ever had? 

My first official job was at a thrift store when I was sixteen. Although, when I was a kid, I used to make miniature card-stock houses, and a family friend purchased one – so, freelance paper house maker!

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

I volunteered at a Cinema Studies-focused library at the University of Toronto, helping out with a serials storage project. That led to a position as interim librarian there for several months before completing my degree.

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

Meeting people and hearing their stories, connecting people to helpful resources (and receiving recommendations), as well as being able to help people become less afraid of information and be more open to using technology as a positive tool. And, like many other librarians, being surrounded by books.

Why do you think library work is important? 

There are so few places in the world that provide the vital services that libraries provide. Information is powerful, and there are so many barriers set up in the world to prevent people from accessing the right information. Through the power of accessible information, storytelling, and community, libraries enable people to do great things and grow into compassionate people. Libraries also function as safe spaces for a lot of folks to pass the time if they need a break from everyday struggles. That is really important. You never know how a visit to a library will change your life – but it could. Even the little things like discovering a new genre of literature or a new hobby are important.

Meet Kristin Boucher!

Kristin has been the librarian in Fort Resolution for almost 10 years now. She was asked to fill the position and has been working there ever since. She loves her job, and keeps learning new things each day!

kristen boucher

Describe yourself in three words. 

I am passionate, determined & honest.

What’s an average day at your library?

An average day consists of checking emails, checking in/out materials for patrons, doing after school programs at the library, organizing… there is always something to do!

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

Don’t be busy, be productive!

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

Coolest thing, I think, on my desk is my barcode scanner. At one point, I had to type the numbers for patrons or materials being signed out, now it’s just a quick scan!

Why do you think library work is important? 

I love libraries. They are important because they are useful for anyone. There are so many free educational resources, free access to computers, some offer different programs, and of course, lots of books!

Meet Kolin Murray!

Kolin is the Library Services Manager at Inuvik Centennial Library, in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Before working in a library, Kolin worked as an oilfield truck driver, a professional sailor, and an ESL teacher. He has been in Inuvik for 5 years, and gets his diesel fix working as a firefighter for the Inuvik Fire Department.

kolin

Photo credit: Weronika Murray 

Describe yourself in three words. 

Analog, digital, and busy! I feel like I’m somewhere between a zero and a one.

What’s an average day at your library?

Getting as much done in the morning as possible, before the “kidpocalypse” in the afternoon. Our library has very busy after school kids programming, so I need to be sure I have my office work wrapped up in time for their daily arrival. Thankfully, by the time the kids get here in the afternoon, I’m ready for a break from my screen.

What was the first job you ever had? 

Working as a mechanic’s helper in a heavy duty trucking shop, where I learned the value of keeping things clean and organized. That job also sparked my interest in diesel trucks and trucking, knowledge that has kept me employed in one way or another ever since.

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

Working as a library assistant at East Three School in Inuvik.

How do you stay up to date in your field? 

I’m studying Library Information Technology from SAIT in Calgary. The courses are great – they’re like an owner’s manual to the library. I have a great bunch of library colleagues in Inuvik and spread across the Territory. I am looking forward to meeting more of our northern librarians in person at conferences or other professional development opportunities over the next few years.

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

I love connecting people with the information they are looking for, and with information they didn’t know they were looking for. It’s satisfying for me when a patron comes in looking for something that I know we recently acquired. I get to say “we just got this for you!” I also enjoy helping a patron find something new they were not likely to try without a recommendation.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

I’m reading The Library Book by Susan Orlean, Learn Python the Hard Way by Zed Shaw, as well as a biography of the late great hard-boiled writer Raymond Chandler, A Mysterious Something in the Light by Tom Williams.

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

I’d be working as a mariner, a trucker, or full time in emergency services.

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

My father says that if he had a second chance to become whatever he wanted, he would choose to be a librarian. So I chose that. My grandfather always told me that any job worth doing was worth doing well. I am proud to be part of the amazing collaborative effort undertaken by librarians everywhere, at cataloguing, organizing, and circulating works to the public.

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

I think one of the coolest things in my office is my computer. I am amazed at the complexity of computers and what we have them do. While they are awesomely complex, computers have become so small and easy to use. What is inspiring about computers is that they were not built by computers. The computers that do so many things for us every day, and that connect us to the breadth of human knowledge and with people around the globe where all built by humans. It all started with a zero or a one.

Why do you think library work is important? 

While we’re increasingly bombarded with information in all forms, we haven’t automatically become expert information consumers. Libraries need to provide for the recreational and informational needs of the community, and also take part in educating us all how to better find and evaluate what we read.

Meet Misty Pynten!

Misty is the School Community Counselor and Librarian at Chief Sunrise Education Centre on the Katlodeeche First Nation in Hay River, Northwest Territories. She was born and raised in Hay River and went to the University of Lethbridge where she received her Bachelor of Arts. She has been working at Chief Sunrise for almost 6 years and loves working with kids. She is married and has a 7 year old son and a 4 year old daughter.

misty

What’s an average day at your library? 

It can be busy some days, and slow others. Having two positions requires me to split my time between the counselling aspect and the library aspect.

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

I love being able to provide after school programming to our students. The students love it and look forward to it. I also love the fact that I can partner with different classes and programs within the school and get to read to our 3 & 4 year old Head Start students! I love it!

What are you reading or watching right now? 

Currently reading: Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Currently watching: Riverdale… my guilty pleasure!

What makes you passionate about library work? 

Literary is so important, now more than ever with all of the technology we have. I also think reading actual physical books is much more satisfying than reading them online or on tablets. I love that I can get kids involved in helping to order books, they let me know what they would like to see on the shelves and I do my best to get those in. The more input I can get from them, the more buy in they have to actually use the library and read the books.

Why do you think library work is important? 

Having a place to go that is quiet to be able to read or study is important. I also think that the programming that libraries put on are a great way for kids to get more involved and see what libraries can do. I am a firm believer of doing what is needed to get them in, and to start young. Some people find book prices expensive, but that is the beauty of a library, you can just borrow them for free!