I’ve had the privilege of working in a variety of library settings: public, government, school, and association. Across all of them, my greatest satisfaction has been in building relationships, learning from colleagues, and collaboratively re-imagining the systems that serve our patrons, students, and staff to be more efficient, more transparent, and more inclusive.
As the media specialist for a private high school this past year, I organized a faculty task force to review and realign the library media curriculum. With feedback from key departments, we were able to bring a greater range of 21st-century information literacy skills—from Internet privacy to Indigenous knowledge rights—into instruction more closely aligned with the existing objectives and teaching schedules of classes across subject areas. Building on proposals from the English department to better support textbook processing, I led efforts with IT to transition to a new, more robust library management system that offered improved federated search capabilities alongside the requested inventory control. As a result, we were able to make better use of existing library materials and of open access resources, eliminating thousands of dollars of redundancies from the annual budget. Alongside these initiatives, I recruited and coordinated a team of student workers to reorganize the library and make new custom signage, facilitating organic browsing and expanding collaborative work spaces for students.
Prior to that, I served in the library of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, where I engaged in high-level research across a variety of domains, from materials engineering to meteorology, environmental science to accounting, and local history to law. Along the way, I contributed to legislative research that helped to avoid costly legal challenges over a highway project and brought new Swedish research to the Department’s attention that is still helping to keep curbs ice-free. As the technician administering our periodical routing service, I digitized routing procedures to cut staff time on periodicals tracking in half and then worked with a colleague to convert many of the routed titles from print to electronic distribution, saving approximately $10,000 per year. With the time freed, I was asked to take point on developing our connections with the national Department of Transportation’s research repository, the Minnesota Digital Library, and other partners to advance the digitization of both our historical materials and our research outputs.
I take pride not only in the direct service I have provided in each of these positions, but in the knowledge that changes I led continue to serve—making the work easier for colleagues, cheaper for administrators, and more helpful for patrons and students. What a librarian does is important. Even more important is what they help others to do for themselves.