Interview by Tara Shepard, Public Relations Specialist
What inspired you to pursue a career in library and information science?
In undergrad, I was a history major. I loved history but didn’t want to teach, so that didn’t leave me with a lot of career choices. One day during my senior year, I went to the library archives and had a lightning bolt moment: I realized that I could combine my love of history with my love for the library. Librarians always seemed to love their jobs, and I have always enjoyed the atmosphere of the library. Once I realized that I could do something that I love and get paid for it, I said, “I have to do this!” So I moved north, enrolled in the MSI program at the University of Michigan, and now I work for ProQuest.
Describe your position as a day in the life of a ProQuest librarian.
I’m an Acquisitions Specialist, so I am responsible for keeping journals current. Basically our users notify us that we’re missing valuable content. Then I work with content publishers and other departments in order to get what the customer wants.
How is your library degree relevant and useful in your current position?
I had several courses on metadata which help me to understand the “behind the scenes” of the electronic content in ProQuest databases. In general, librarians are focused on helping their patrons. My role in that is to help by asking the right questions, to resolve content problems, to help people access information that they need.
What is something that you love about your job?
The people. I love my coworkers! We have a good time and we’re really supportive of each other when working on projects. The atmosphere in my department is really cool and fun. I appreciate that ProQuest hires librarians, because hopefully that makes it easier for our customers. They can work with people who have the insight into what they need, and can relate to where they are coming from.
What career advice would you give to a current LIS student interested in doing your job?
When I was in the MSI program, I wish I had chosen to concentrate more on technology than I did, as the industry is becoming much more technically driven.
What coursework would you recommend?
Technical and computer programming courses. Knowing how to manipulate databases, how to build and design complex websites, and reading and writing code will be extremely relevant to any library role.
What is the best piece of career advice you ever received?
“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I refuse to let money dictate my career choices. I’d rather ask myself instead, if I’m happy. If you’re not happy in your position, it makes it harder to do quality work. Life’s too short to do something you don’t like.
What advice do you have for students or researchers to help them get the most use out of the library?
Ask questions! People think that they know what they’re looking for, but there is a wealth of resources that librarians know about. Let them help you find all of the cool things that you may not even be aware of.
Comment on the library of the future; how will the librarians of the future spend most of their time?
Libraries are so much more than just books. They are community centers that provide internet access, and librarians are there to help you to navigate and find a variety of resources! The library of the future will probably have a greater emphasis on ebooks and digital materials. I think that the librarian of the future will likely continue to focus more on providing community and technical support and less on collection building.
What can you tell us about yourself that we might never guess?
I am a collector of costumes, including a penguin costume that I like to break out randomly.
[Partial photo on home page: Gay costumes at the charity carnival. (1932, May 08). New York Herald Tribune (1926-1962)]