Interview with Joe Lenkart

Hello every one, I had opportunity to meet. He is Assistant Professor in International and Area Studies Library, and I’m happy to share it with you.

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Waleed: Tell us about yourself and about your career to date?
Joe: I started out as a library page at Champaign Public Library and eventually as the clerk at the Douglas Branch (part of Champaign Public Library).  I really enjoyed working the general public.  This led me to graduate school (2 times) and now I am a reference librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  I still operate with the same philosophy as professionals at public libraries. 
 
Waleed: Are there any skills, talents and qualities you recommend diverse professionals develop as they seek new positions? Please explain further.
 
Joe: This is probably a terrible answer to this wonderful question. Fine tune social and communication skills.  Library profession is a public service profession.  You cannot be effective without social and communication skills. In addition, diverse professionals should get to know the history of their profession. If they don’t have time to learn about the past, then they will have a limited view of the future.
 
Waleed: What are the biggest challenges you have encountered at work? 
 
Joe: Here are my biggest challenges:
1.       Lack of understanding and communication from administrators
2.       Low morale among rank and file
3.       Bureaucracy. Here is an example: in order for one grant idea (just the idea – no proposals- just the grant idea) to reviewed and approved, this colleague of mine had to go through two layers of review.  This process took five months.
 
Waleed: How You can overcome all that challenges?
Joe: My team and I are good at working with these challenges.  To be honest, you cannot overcome these challenges.  Institutional cultures are difficult to reform.
Waleed: What advice would you want to give to the professionals ? 
Joe: Focus on the fundamentals of your profession.  Learn from them. Adapt to situations – do not dwell too long on trends (be aware of them of course).  The fundamentals will always be around. 

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