Elinor’s passion for lifelong learning led her to becoming a librarian in her late 30s and extends beyond the library, where she is a textile artist and craft teacher, professional bellydancer and instructor, video/board/RPG gamer, and more. She is a graduate of the Dalhousie School of Information Management’s MLIS program, and also holds a BFA from NSCAD where she studied Textiles and Fashion Design and a DEC in Fine Arts from Champlain Regional College in Quebec.
Describe yourself in three words.
Pierced, tattooed, weary.
What’s an average day at your library?
Is it cliche to say that there are no average days at my library? I guess on an average day I could be doing any combination of the following:
- Helping kids log on to Roblox
- Troubleshooting the PS4
- Helping a customer find books and movies about serial killers
- Helping a customer log on to email
- Going to a North End Community Circle meeting with other service providers
- Training staff
- Fixing schedules
- Checking my ever-growing email inbox
- Pick away at my monthly report
- Researching harm reduction strategies for IV drug users as they pertain to our public washrooms
- Tying a kid’s shoes
- Printing off pictures of favourite basketball players for a cute pack of kids
- Getting gently chastised by customers for not having the puzzles photocopied from the newspapers yet
- Coaching my senior staff on how to manage their direct reports
- Calling 911 for a customer who is non-responsive
- Speaking at the awards ceremony for our Literacy program and trying not to cry at all the bravery I see in the room looking back at me
- Fixing a non-flushing toliet
- Connecting a newcomer family to support resources for their son living with Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Staffing a pop-up library at a seniors’ residence or Mobile Food Market
- Going to a branch mangers’ meeting or management team meeting
- Babysitting contractors working on renovations
- …and so much more!
What was the first job you ever had?
My first job was either baby-sitting or haying, I can’t remember which. My first job with a printed paycheque was when I filled in for two weeks as a server at the only restaurant in my little town. My first away-from-home job was a camp counselor at a camp for children and adults with intellectual challenges.
What was your first position in the library or information field?
As I was a mature graduate with 20+ years of work experience outside libraries when I graduated, my first library job was a Sunday Supervisor at one of the larger branches in my library system. I got it 8 months after graduating and counted myself lucky to get into the library system I was aiming for.
How do you stay up to date in your field?
Our system circulates professional publications which I attempt to read but often end up just skimming and occasionally photocopying articles to read on my downtime. I also keep up on a few blogs and librarian social media such as Library Think Tank on Facebook, personal and institutional Twitter and Instagram accounts, RSS feeds, etc.
What is your favourite part of library, archive, or information services work?
Honestly, I learn something new every day! I used to be a chronic job hopper because I would get bored of my work after 1 – 2 years. The library gives me new challenges and puzzles to figure out on a daily or even hourly basis. I love figuring things out and fixing processes that don’t work. I’m a problem solver and a practical thinker, despite (or possibly because of?) my art background.
What are you reading or watching right now?
Currently watching Trapped, Better Call Saul, Lucha Underground, Disenchantment, and Black Matter. Currently reading Witches Sluts Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive by Kristen Sollee and So You Want to Talk About Race? by Ijeoma Olua. I have both a long Netflix queue and reading queue! My reading pace has slowed down to a crawl because my brain is so full at the end of the day being a library branch manager, that I mostly only have faculties enough to Netflix and knit.
If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing?
I’d be a working textile artist and dance teacher. Possibly teaching craft at the college or university level.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I ever received was to get my Masters. I was contemplating going to community college for either Library Tech or Funeral Services. I happened to have a friend who had worked as a CSI and was currently a medical librarian. I took her out for ice cream to get the lowdown on both of those career paths. She gave me a great reality check and basically told me that if I was going to go to school for two years anyway, I should do a Masters because my salary as a librarian starts at where a library tech’s was usually capped. Mercenary, but true!
What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk?
My awesome unicorn mug.
What makes you passionate about library work?
The customers who need us every day are what drives me to do my best. I feel that as a librarian, my job actually makes me a better human being and global citizen. In my twenties I spent just short of a year on Social Assistance and my local library was my lifeline. I created and printed resumes on library computers, borrowed books, music, and movies, and pestered the staff with questions. I know how much I needed the library then, so that is part of why I’m passionate about public library work now. I love making a difference in someone’s life, whether it’s loaning them a copy of their favourite childhood movie, helping print citizenship documents, helping a kid having a rough time make better choices, or just being the only friendly face a person might see in the course of their day.
Why do you think library work is important?
We connect so many people to services and information on a daily basis, we’re open and welcoming to all, we’re a safe place for our community, we offer new experiences and old familiar ones, encourage literacy of all types, support newcomers to Canada, and all for free. What other type of organization offers that level of service?