Kicking and Screaming
August 20, 2008 9 Comments
Funny I’ve told the story many times about how I got started here at Howard County Library but it wasn’t until this that I really thought about it. So here goes it….
I was born a poor black child….wait, that isn’t right.
It was a dark and stormy night……hmm, that doesn’t quite sound right either.
Like many of my fellow library workers, I suspect, my road to Librarydom started with a love of reading. As an only child it was often up to me to entertain myself and I often turned to books. I was definitely a fiction reader from early on but I also know I spent time scouring through our bicentennial editon of World Book encyclopedia. My folks also had a collection of medical encyclopedia’s put out by Reader’s Digest. The thought of that makes me laugh now. I know I often went to it as a teen who was too afraid to admit ignorance to my parents or peers and actually did find some good info in that collection. So basically everything from Dr. Seuss to World Book encyclopedia was devoured.
Then in middle school I had the opportunity to be a library aide. I can’t remember how I got asked to do that just remember shelving materials during lunch time.
Forward a bit to my 16th year and my Mother literally forcing me to apply for a page position (yes, we called them pages then – god knows what they are now they’ve been called many things over the years) at the Long Reach branch of the Howard County Library. I always tell this part as “she took me kickng and screaming…” which isn’t too far from the truth. Ironically my straight A student next door neighbor also applied for the job. Somehow my experience as a library aide in middle school must have given me an in because I got the job.
I was convinced that only the nerds, geeks, losers of high school worked at the *gasp* library. Back in that day there was actually more prestige associated with working at McDonald’s than at a library. However, my first day at work changed my opinion of libraries for good. The senior class clown was there working in my branch. How could someone that cool work at the library? Hmm, maybe this wasn’t such a bad place after all.
Forward about 7 years after I had left my page position at the library I find myself answering an ad for Circulation Technician. Wet behind the ears, I find myself dealing with the normal first job issues including having an elderly gentleman have a heart attack, fall to the floor and die on my desk shift. Ah, just another day in the life of a library.
A few years later I took a position as the Evening Supervisor. Basically was in charge of keeping the pages (then called something else forget just what) in line on nights and weekends. Some of the kids were really motivated and great workers. As usual the slackers were the ones that made my life hell. Not sure I was the best suited for that job and the hours soon wore on me. At the end of my stint doing that I found myself back in college and planning a wedding. Talk about stress.
Within 2 years I entered into a job share position and had to step down a level but it was worth it as I was a new mother and it afforded me time home with my son. Just before he entered kindergarten I went back full time. Within a few months I was able to move back up to my previous level as Senior Circulation Assistant.
During this time I had managed to learn quite a bit about our ILS system and was often the go-to girl for other staff. I had worked off and on in Interlibrary loan during the years so when a full time position in ILL became open, I went for it. It was perfect timing for me as in the 6 years I spent in ILL I learned 3 different ILL systems (AutoGraphics, Sails which went on to become Marina (URSA from SirsiDynix), and OCLC passport). As someone who loves variety, loves to learn, likes to just get in there and get her hands dirty and learn my years in ILL were filled with many new learning moments.
Then it looked like the face of ILL was going to change so I applied for a position in Automation. Luckily they wanted me for it (as I didn’t have ALL the requirements for the job) but my thorough knowledge of our then ILS system was in my favor. Again, the opportunity to learn more about our ILS system (classic Dynix) plus a whole new department gave me many years of learning enjoyment.
Then the migration to Horizon came which was MORE than a learning experience for me. But it opened a new opportunity – training. I had done a few training sessions on our email clients (Netscape, Thunderbird, Webmail) but now I got offer classes on how to use Windows and Horizon. I stumbled upon an area that I was good at and really enjoyed. Funny, when I first started my library path I never would have envisioned training being part of my future.
Shortly after our migration to Horizon, the Automation department joined with the rest of IT and I got a new boss. Again I found that my job gave me variety and plenty of opportunity for me to learn but to also help others learn. My new title reflected that – Coordinator of Software Support and Training. More classes were offered (RSS feeds, how to use our new Linux OS, Groovix, on our PACs, AquaBrowser) as well as written instructions and FAQs.
I was then given the awesome task of recreating our staff Intranet using Joomla! So again, I got to learn something new, get in and get my hands dirty (oh you are suppose to read manuals? Nah!) and loved every minute of it. I’ve now brought up 3 other sites on Joomla! and continue to learn about the product as well as good web practices. This opened another path for me – web design. Well not quite that good but it enabled me to work with our web programmer on our new website. If I was only half as cool or knew half as much as he does I’d be happy. But I learned so much and appreciated his patience with such a web neophyte.
Now as we migrate to Koha I have another opportunity to learn and train. I’ll be working with one of our librarians to help create the training modules used for our staff. We will first look at the work flow issues in each department and how they do it now. I’m looking forward to that as well as eventually working on YakPac.
My next new learning moment for me will come this fall when I branch out from training staff to our customers. I will be giving my first class for customers on Web 2.0 this fall. I designed a 5 part series with the help of other web 2.0 enthused staff – overview (my part), wikis, photo sharing, social networking, and audio streaming. I hope to bring my love of Web 2.0 to our customers and help them to understand and navigate the web a bit better.
The future holds, I hope, more opportunity to grow, learn and be able to give back to others the knowledge I’ve gained.
Okay, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Now it’s your turn – so I tag the following:
Theycallmetater (whom I work with)
Library Trainer (who I’ve not met in person but would love to hear her story)
Greg Schwartz (who I’ve not met in person but had interesting email exchange and love his show Uncontrolled Vocabulary)
almostBaldGeekinMd (who I’ve met in person and worked with virtually) who was also tagged by strangelibrarian (so maybe we can tag team him?)