To the person I interviewed was my colleague and friend Elizabeth (Lizzy) Boden, she is currently a student at the School of Information Sciences (iSchool) at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, opting for a degree in Master of Science in Library and Information Science.
She works in Social Science, Health and Education Library (SSHEL) as an student assistant.
I interviewed her, because although I had several opportunities to share with her, such as visiting the public library in Champaign, we hadn’t had the opportunity to talk about her experiences as detailed as today.
Some of the questions that I asked Lizzy were:
Megui: Why did you study information science?
Lizzy: My first job when I 16 was at then River Forest Public Library, which was the town where I worked. Then when was an undergraduate I worked at the DePaul University Special Collections and Archives. I thought about going to library school right after I graduated but I thought it would be hard to find a job, so instead I worked and traveled. But many of my close friends were librarians and as I talked to them more and more, I realized that I could find work in a variety of fields and that my opportunities would be opened by school. So I decided to go!
Megui: In your work, what are your main tasks?
Lizzy: My main tasks at SSHEL (the Social Science, Health, and Education Library) are to staff the information desk and answer any questions patrons have. I also answer online chats. I’m in charge of the Curriculum Collection and do a lot of cataloging of new curriculum materials and maintenance of the physical section. Finally, work on major projects like reference weeding, subject guide revisions, and annual reports.
Megui: What are the most important issues that need to be strengthened in libraries? Being innovative. Last time we talked about the progress that the librarianship should have, can you talk about that?
Lizzy: I think that libraries need to become community focused instead of collection focused. What I mean by that is libraries need to partner with their community to figure out what they need and then work TOGETHER to achieve it, instead of librarians deciding what is needed and then doing it without any input. I think marginalized communities should be actively sought after for partnerships (like the indigenous people in Costa Rica, or people living in poverty in the US), because those are the people that need the library the most, and they might be intimidated to come in or feel unwelcome. Libraries have a lot to offer as space that improves the community but it has to be done in partnership WITH the community. I think too often librarians think they know best, when that isn’t always true.
Megui: If you had advice for others related to librarianship, what would it be?
Lizzy: I think my advice to someone wanting to become a librarian would be to work at different types of libraries first to learn if they like it or not. It helps if someone starts library school with an idea of what kind of librarian they want to be, but I think it’s also smart to leave your options open since there’s so many things you might not hear about until you start school. And then I think the key is to say yes to opportunities, get as much experience as possible, and work really hard!
Megui: Are you a leader in your library?
Lizzy: I think I’m a leader in some ways, like small mentoring moments with our student assistants. Because I’m a graduate assistant though I haven’t felt very empowered to suggest too many changes. It’s something I’d like to improve going forward.
Megui: What is your biggest dream about librarianship?
Lizzy: I want people in the country to recognize the value and importance of libraries, even in a world where google exists. And when that happens, I think libraries can get more funding (such a dream!) and offer even more programs. I think the way to do it is through community engagement – by bringing people from the community into the library as partners, they’ll see the value more.