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 Gathering and archiving the local historical documents has been very beneficial to our community.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

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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.

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.