Tag Archives: honors

public librarianship is go

Believe it or not, I’ve been working at Austin Public Library for nearly four months. For all our epic plans, day-to-day it’s a position of minutia, unraveling policy, battling torpid interfaces and remembering a million acronyms, passcodes and who’s who.

But it’s also a delightful realm of Real Live Collection Development, spending real money making a real difference updating my areas (Computers and Religion) to reflect community needs and cultivate curiosity. On top of that, weeding is a joy. Too long my preconceptions have been clouded by milquetoast librarians for whom deselection gives the vapors.

I could weed all day, especially when such treasures await:

 

Who knows how many times the collection had been shifted till at last stars aligned and mind and no mind met Arizona highways?

It seems crazy to say I’m still discovering what my job is. I have things I do—always! ever!—but figuring out where I fit has taken more finesse. I’m thankful to have the freedom to self-direct and -select the projects and priorities of interest to me.

I am on the Databases Team and the Internet Advisory Committee in tireless pursuit of intuitive user experience. I also developed a library class syllabus and am helping strong-arm our information guides. But the wheels of assimilation turn slowly, and weirdly. I’ve taken training for cybersecurity, active shooters and blood-borne pathogens but not the official module for how to use our catalog. I just hope I can take the class before I teach it, which I know I’ll be doing eventually.

Reference has become a completely different animal. Unlike the online, for-profit education world with 30 minute phone calls of intensive remedial information literacy, tech support, assignment interpretation and life coach cheerleadering, the public library phone call averages 30 seconds. And yet so many wonderful, off-the-wall questions, requests and misinformation about how things work.

I still encounter a handful of rude, frantic, mentally ill patrons, with the added tension of much of it in person, but it’s still leaps and bounds less nerve-wracking, and that goes for the rest of the job, too. I haven’t torn the velcroed head off Stress Kitty once.

 

And it’s fun. In June I volunteered at Yomicon (“reading con”), the annual manga cosplay event for teens. There were costume and art contests, geeky crafts, games, drawing workshops and more. I staffed the photo print station, arranging shots into fake photobooth strips, like so:

Horsehead was a hit and my efforts were well appreciated. In fact, I won an award:

 

Here’s what my nominator had to say:

Not even out of probation yet, and accolades already! Not bad. 😀

Farewell, Walden University… Hello, Austin Public!

I have a new job! Next month I extend my career as a Librarian II at Austin Public Library—yes, that Austin, the People’s Republic Of. Stationed at Faulk Central, the main library building downtown, I will do reference, instruction, collection development, adult programming, web- and word-wrangling and more.

While much of my experience overlaps or translates, I have not worked in public libraries before. I am ridiculously, ecstatically excited. For all I thrive online, the thought of wandering stacks and teaching face to face makes me downright giddy. I’m eager to engage with a different kind of patron, collection, mission, everything—all of this on top of the adventure of moving, immersing myself in a fun, new city.

With this opportunity, I leave behind Walden University—but not without accolades. At the start of March I was awarded the Frondie, an employee of the month recognition in the library.

What the heck is a Frondie? Why, it’s a creepy Green Man statue/plaque/thingy:

My nominator colleagues said about me:

“I would like to nominate Meg for all the work she does and has done to make the website and guides be fantastic and seamless. Yes, there are working groups for these things but it seems that Meg has often done beyond what is expected.”

“Our successful, on-time launch of the library website re-design may have been neither without Meg’s involvement. She asked insightful, hard questions about the project, but also dedicated extra time to researching and drafting possible solutions to any issue she raised. Meg communicated with her colleagues throughout the project, both sharing progress from the team and collecting feedback from others. She has also stepped up to create resources and support for her colleagues, such as workshops on SnagIt image editing and the content and style guide.”

“Meg has a history of supporting her colleagues and helping us all do quality work (offering SnagIt image workshops, all the crazy work on the content and style guide, etc.) She has also had openness to being flexible to bring success to the library (think all the twists and turns of the website redesign). Once again, we are grateful to Meg for her adaptability and strong support of the team: just recently she has agreed to let us all experiment with her role as a liaison. In order to help meet the ever changing workloads from College of Health Sciences and RWR College of Education and Leadership, Meg is now flexing back and forth between the two schools and collaborating to take care of business. This pilot project is very important to all of us as we explore more ways to keep up with new programs and projects.”

“She doesn’t hesitate to call shenanigans and is great at providing detailed feedback with examples. She’s blazing a trail and taking us with her. Bravo, Meg!”

HOW MORTIFYING! I knew the Austin Public offer was coming—I was trapped in criminal background check limbo for nearly a month and half. Then I find out that people like me and think I do rad work! Can’t say I don’t feel a little guilty, but it’s equally awesome to be recognized and appreciated.

On my last day of work, my Walden colleagues presented me with this wondrous gift:

May my new colleagues in time understand me so well. 😀

degreed!

diploma

It is official; I am a graduate of the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia with an MLIS. Hooray! Actual commencement was May 21. Having missed the inordinately early and devilishly well-concealed cap-and-gown deadline, I was not in attendance and thus have no capstone photos of me in full graduation regalia. (Awww.)

In addition to degreed, I am the honored recipient of the Beverly Maureen Becker Memorial Prize for outstanding work in courses related to reference and information services. Strangely, I only took one reference course, the core course required of everyone (I would have liked to take more but scheduling did not allow for it). I believe the criteria were expanded to include actual reference desk experience, of which my co-op jobs at UVic and my Graduate Academic Assistant position with Art + Architecture + Planning and the Science and Engineering Libraries at UBC provided me a great deal. The award includes a schnazzy certificate and a cheque for $500. Thanks, SLAIS! I most definitely appreciate it.

As for jobs… though I’d originally planned to search far and wide for a librarian position, after much consideration I have decided I would like to be in Minneapolis/St. Paul, still home in my heart and closer to family. I’m hanging out in Vancouver to enjoy one last (…for now? who knows!) BC summer of beaches and bike rides along lush seawalls. I plan to be back in the States toward the end of July then concentrate my job search in the Twin Cities area.

In the meantime, I have been entrenched in a handful of creative writing and other projects. One exciting bit of news is that my work, You Are Not Dead: A Guide To Modern Living, a free ebook released in Spring 2008, caught the interest and inspiration of a local live performance production company. Over the past couple months I have been working with the director to turn the guide, perhaps best described as a satirical cross between self help and propaganda, into a script, with some revisions to reflect Canadian content and context. The play will open late October 2009 in Vancouver.

…Which I guess makes me a playwright. Which I am still wrapping my brain around. Though eager to start my library career, this is a welcome and fun change of pace from a grueling semester, and it’s excellent to get some recognition in a regrettably neglected area of my life. Stay tuned!