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).
Describe 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.