Thursday, November 16, 2017

Interview Post: Emily Drabinski

From left to right: the author, Clive, and Tom
Biographical

Name?
Emily Drabinski

Current job?

Coordinator of Instruction, Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus (GO BLACKBIRDS!)

How long have you been in the field?

15 years! Wow!

How Do You Work?

What is your office/workspace like?

Messy. Piles everywhere. I have an organized calendar and an organized Dropbox, but my actual office is a mess.

How do you organize your days?
I have a nine year old, so he does a lot of the organizing for me. I am up at 5:15 to get him fed, homework done, and out the door to the bus stop by 7am, and then I’ll run to the office or around Prospect Park with a friend before heading into work. My work time is organized around meetings, reference desk shifts, and instruction sessions, with plenty of staring at the internet and responding to email.

What do you spend most of your time doing?
Talking to people and scheduling time to talk to people. I do a lot of organizing work for my job (getting people into the library for information literacy instruction), and these days I am organizing in my workplace around increasing management control over our labor. I start my term on ALA Council at Midwinter this February, so I’m having lots of organizing conversations trying to figure out what the scope of my work in that body might be over the next three years. And I’m organizing a conference in July at Simmons College, and I organize a book series, organize organize organize. I could stand to spend a little more time clarifying for myself what my vision for the days ahead might be. Sometimes, down in the weeds, we can lose sight of what really matters, why we bother to do the work we do.

What is a typical day like for you?
Lots of appointments and meetings and emails and reports. I keep a to-do list in a print calendar and I update it constantly throughout the day. So many little things to do. But big change happens one small task at a time. I’m usually making sure those tasks are completed, one by one.

What are you reading right now?

Vincente Hernández, History of Books and Libraries in the Philippines, 1521-1900. Tana French at bedtime.

What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
Write a little every day.

What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?

I am exceptional at stapler unjamming, and I unjam my fair share of staplers. I also hand out an awful lot of candy to undergraduates.


Inside the Library Studio

What is your favorite word?
Tension when it’s used as a noun.

What is your least favorite word?
Tomorrow. It never comes!

What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
Flight attendant

What profession would you never want to attempt?
Unlike my kid, professional baseball player. Full count, bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, down by three, I think I would come apart if it was me at the plate. Happy to bat in the middle of the order.

Everything Else

What superpower do you wish you had?
The ability to redistribute wealth and opportunity!

What are you most proud of in your career?
The book series I edit for Library Juice Press/Litwin books. It is a boatload of thankless work, lots of emails and calendars, and checklists, but I think a lot of good voices are out in the world because of the editorial infrastructure I’ve helped to build.

If you're willing to share, tell about a mistake you made on the job.
Withholding information because it’s hard to admit or confront. I’ve made that mistake many times, it’s always bad. “No surprises” is my number one workplace rule, and I have always regretted breaking it.

When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
Watching reality television on the couch with my cats.

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Fobazi Ettarh, Annie Rauh, Regina Gong

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

New Job, New Interview


Feels a little like cheating, but as I've been editing interviews recently, I've also been thinking about how my answers have changed. At least a lot of them have. So I decided to redo my interview with myself. My blog, my prerogative? 

Biographical

Name?
Luna Lovegood

Current job?
Director of Library Services, Genesee Community College

How long have you been in the field?
Closing in on 15 years!


How Do You Work?

What is your office/workspace like?

I have walls now, and privacy. It's a bigger institution than my last, so I'm not needed on the front lines as much. I have an L desk, a big filing cabinet, a table with chairs (!!) for meetings, and a bookshelf that is chock-a-block full of things I need to read and do. I like tidy, and my office feels such a mess - mostly because of the piles on my bookshelf.

How do you organize your days?
I'm still a combination of an electronic calendar and a paper journal, but I'm full-on bullet journaling now. To be fair, it's my own special version of the bullet journal since I can't be bothered to make it pretty, but it helps me so much to have all of my to do lists and notes all in one place - for the most part.

What do you spend most of your time doing?
Meetings. Meetings meetings and more meetings. I sit down with everyone who works at the library - 17 people - at least once a month, and a few meetings are more frequent. I have a weekly meeting with my boss, the provost. I have biweekly meetings with an on-site mentor. I have biweekly meetings with the deans & directors who all report directly to the provost. There are monthly web team meetings and monthly library staff meetings. I also have biweekly meetings with a student group called the Student Library Council. Oh, and we are going through a functional area review (FAR) - kind of like a program review or a reaccreditation, but for administrative units - which necessitate monthly meetings with the committee plus a bunch of other meetings with important constituents and stakeholders. And those are just the regular meetings... never mind about the avalanche of "hi, I'm new here, let's get together and chat!" meetings.

What is a typical day like for you?
I come the front door of the library to make sure nothing is figuratively or literally on fire, and that check means a quick hello with the circulation manager. I say hello to everyone who is working, put my lunch in the fridge, make myself a cup of tea, and then double check that I'm prepped for the day's meetings (I try to prep for the entire week's meetings on Monday). Once that's done, I try to glance at whatever email has come in since the last time I was at work. Then it's off to the aforementioned meetings, in between which I try to keep up with the administratrivia and paperwork and also try to sneak some work in on the bigger projects like working on the FAR or reading some of the files my predecessor left. I (almost) always take a lunch hour, which I try to make restorative by keeping work out of that time if possible. Then I go back into the race of meetings, paperwork, and getting to know my new job and new library. At the end of the day, I plan the following day's to do list, and then I head home. I leave via the front door so I can say hello and/or good night to the staff who work until close.

What are you reading right now?
As usual, too many books at once. But here's the list:

What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
The last time I answered this question, I cited Jessame Ferguson's advice to stop interviewing for a job I already had, and that is still the best, but a close second is something I got from The First 90 Days: don't give into the action imperative when you're new in a job. This basically means don't make changes just to have change, and don't do things just to do them. Have reasons for your actions and think about what you're doing before you do it.

What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?
Navigating the line between accommodating members of the public and not letting them take advantage of the library. I've never worked at a public institution before, and didn't think I ever would, and being polite and helping people who are not associated with my school other than the fact that they live nearby, but making sure that the needs of our students come first, can be... challenging.


Inside the Library Studio

What is your favorite word?
I still really love mellifluous, but "resist" has a special place in my heart lately.

What is your least favorite word?
Again, any word that is a derogatory term for a group of marginalized people. Nothing even comes close.

What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
Wildlife rehab is still the top of my list, but I'd also love to do science communication to help others share my passion for the unloved animals of the world like Damon diadema (tailless whip scorpion) and Cathartes aura (turkey vulture).

What profession would you never want to attempt?
Anything medical.

Everything Else

What superpower do you wish you had?
Still kinda want Jamie Madrox's power, but have to admit the lure of James Howlett's healing factor as I age and have to deal with more aches and pains.

What are you most proud of in your career?
Still and forever this blog.

If you're willing to share, tell about a mistake you made on the job.
This happened early in my career, but I'll never forget it: a student came up and asked me for help finding information for their science paper. I heard "zebra muscles" so I spent 30 minutes finding her all sorts of stuff on equine musculature. She got a blank look on her face and I finally asked clarifying questions and learned she'd actually said "zebra mussels." Oops.

When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
Right now? Exploring my new city and making friends with locals. Been spending time investigating local restaurants, especially.

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
You!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Interview Post: Lindsay Cronk


Biographical

Name?
Lindsay Cronk

Current job?
Head of Collection Strategies, University of Rochester River Campus Libraries

How long have you been in the field?
7 Years, but only 6 months in my current job.


How Do You Work?

What is your office/workspace like?

I have a window, which feels like the crowning accomplishment of all my library striving and hustling. Each morning, I gaze out my magnificent window and I feel a sense of accomplishment. I have a kind of more than a cubicle/less than an office space with a door. There’s a white board covered in project notes, also tons of friendly tchotchkes because I’m an aggressive office nester. The office space is open and collaborative, which I love. I’m not at my desk very often because we’re always meeting and I’m always in someone’s grill or investigating the stacks.

How do you organize your days?
I pride myself on my flexibility, and I take a lot of meetings, so the structure of my day is often defined by others. However, two critical organizational pieces for me are:

  1. Each morning I review to-do list items, prepare for meetings, and try to clear my inbox. I also try to use this time to reflect and consider how I can instill social justice in the tasks and meetings ahead.
  2. Each afternoon I write a to-do list for the next day. Mindful reflection FTW!
I try essentially to calendar off an hour in the morning and a half hour in the afternoon to make this possible.

What do you spend most of your time doing?
My friend and mentor, Miranda Bennett, warned me that being a department head means “doing email, going to meetings, and worrying about what you’re missing.” I find this to be largely true. I spend a lot of time in project management, and there are always a lot of projects in collection development and management. I check in and support projects from my team and from subject experts. I have found the hardest part of my transition to this role has been the piece of delegating and stepping aside for practitioners. I still create projects, develop ideas, but I am learning to nourish and support the creativity of others.

What is a typical day like for you?
I take the shuttle to work, and I am lucky that other library colleagues do as well. This gives us an informal check in every day where we talk about our work. I get to the office about 8:30, take coffee with some colleagues who are in academic engagement, shop talk about our overlapping projects. The meat of any day can be extremely different, but I’d misrepresenting my experience in academic libraries if I didn’t mention there are always a ton of meetings! On a productive day I’ll check in on a variety of projects with multiple departments, maybe frolic through the Stacks to see where researchers are. At the end of the day, I settle down to look at my calendar for the next day and set my to-do list.

What are you reading right now?
I’m reading Maplecroft by Cherie Priest, and it’s perfect Halloween/Fall reading. Priest reframes Lizzie Borden as an axe-wielding Cthulu-monster slayer, and I am living for it.

What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
My former boss, Mary Elin Santiago, now Senior VP at Gale told me, “If you can learn to thrive in chaos, you will succeed under any circumstances.”

What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?
I definitely never thought I’d spend this much time looking into physical collections - I thought I was an eresources/licensing person exclusively. It’s been a real joy to work in the print collection, but an unexpected joy.


Inside the Library Studio

What is your favorite word?

What is your least favorite word?
Meritocracy

What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
Late night horror film host or Foley artist

What profession would you never want to attempt?
Teacher

Everything Else

What superpower do you wish you had?
I would love to be able to talk to animals.

What are you most proud of in your career?
I am most proud of the relationships I have built and continue to build. I am proud of my community. From a project standpoint, I am probably most proud of my contributions to the profession regarding data visualization for collection data.

If you're willing to share, tell about a mistake you made on the job.
I once communicated what was an accurate, negative description of a current budget situation in a sort of Chicken Little, “the sky is falling” way. I was trying to give a sense of urgency, which I thought was lacking in the organization. When we received additional funding from administration, I had to walk back my communication. It damaged the trust I’d had with some of the people involved. If I had it to do again, I’d definitely communicate it differently! It was the result of my own inexperience.

When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
My dude and I spend a lot of our free time in the gorgeous local parks here in Rochester, New York. There’s so much natural beauty! We also love to go see movies at the Little Theater and pick up records at Record Archive.

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Amie Wright (@librarylandia), Ariana Santiago (@aripants), and Mea Warren (@meawarren)!


Lindsay tweets at @linds_bot.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Questions to Ask When Eyeing The Captain's Chair



A friend of mine has become a prime target for headhunters looking for library director candidates, and so wrote to ask for advice. They aren't sure if they want to sit in the captain's chair just yet, but it's a possibility. So they wrote to me, asking for my opinion about questions to ask and red flags they should watch for when interviewing for library director positions. That friend is in academia, like me, so that's the bias of this blog post. If there's enough interest, I'll happily seek out a public library director to write a similar post.

  1. Do your research on the institution. I like GlassDoor.com, but if it's a small enough school they might not have a lot of ratings so also consider asking friends you trust if they know anyone who works there.
  2. Comb their website like crazy and learn everything you can about them. Especially look for their Clery report and for the things they don't say (like student/faculty ratio).
  3. See if AAUP has said anything, good or bad, about them. It's especially important to look if they've been censured.
  4. Also look to see how they are doing with their accreditation(s). Different regions report to different bodies - and the US Department of Education has a still decent website to determine who covers where. But you'll also want to look deeper, especially at professional programs. The American Bar Association visited my campus recently to look at our paralegal program.
  5. There's a big, neon warning that I ignored in the past: I didn't listen to my gut. I knew the place was bad, but I let my excitement about a move up get in the way of listening to my instincts.
  6. Make sure to ask all the normal interview questions like, "How will I know if I'm successful after the first year?" and, "What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the successful candidate?" but also pay attention to the questions they ask you. I've learned you can hear what they didn't like about the director who left if you think about their questions for a second. Example, "How do you institute change? How do you make your decisions about what to change?" can be code, depending on their tone, for, "We want someone who isn't going to change anything" or, "I hate it here and want you to change everything."
  7. The adverts are also going to be telling. How long is the ad? Super short is just as worrying as super long. Also, are they looking for the mythical unicorn? 
  8. Ask about the budget. How big it is and how decisions are made about what gets spent. Be sure to save this question for the appropriate person - the provost or whoever is the boss of the library director. If they won't tell you numbers, whoa that's a bad sign.
  9. Finally, look around you. Look at the people - is the group diverse, or pretty uniform? Look at the students - do you see a lot of them in the library? Do they seem happy? Look at the infrastructure - are the buildings in good repair? Is there decent parking? 

I know I'm forgetting something, but these questions and this approach helped me so very much with my most recent job search. In the past, if I'd taken the time to listen, I'd've heard the robot from Lost in Space warning me - "Danger, Jessica Olin! Danger!" But now? Now I feel like I get to ride a fire-breathing unicorn pretty much every day at work.


For those of you who are also in some sort of administrative position in libraries, what did I miss?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Just For Fun: You Remind Me of the Babe


This is another one of those "just for fun" posts that I have a hard time believing I haven't written yet. But I checked and double checked, and unless the goblins are rearranging my blog around me to hide a prior Labyrinth post, I really have neglected to write about one of my earliest media obsessions for 6 years of this blog. What?

So here I am to fill that obvious gap.

Let's start with the writing, which means talking about Terry Jones. I didn't think about this until much later, but I think Labyrinth was my gateway to Monty Python. I know MP predates this film, but I'm pretty sure it was the opposite order in my life. Regardless, there's something utterly enchanting and so right about the seriousness clothed in extreme goof that typifies Jones' writing. Gawd, how I love his writing, his imagination run amuck. Here, let me share some of my favorite moments:


That last line? Kills me every time.


"It's so stimulating being your head."


"You say that so often. I wonder what your basis for comparison is."


Then there's the characters. Even the minor characters are fully realized and distinct from each other. From Hoggle to Sarah to the Fireys. With the writing, we get Jones' imagination running wild. With the characters, it's Jim Henson.

Ludo is so lovely (seen here with Sarah)
I think Sir Didymus (and his mount, Ambrosius) are my favorites.
And all the variety of the goblins!

But I think the most important thing about Labyrinth, the thing that caused my obsession, was David Bowie as The Goblin King. Let's set aside, at least for now, the intensely problematic situation of an eons old man falling in love with and courting a 16 year old girl. David Bowie was amazing casting. I've watched and read some things about the making of this film, and Henson said that Bowie was their first choice for the role (although they thought about Michael Jackson as well).


As much as the creative minds behind Labyrinth might have imagined other people in this role, it could only have ever been David Bowie.

So how about you? What did you love (or even... *gasp* hate) about this movie?

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Using Strengths

source

This post is probably going to come off sounding a bit like an advertisement for Gallup's Strengths Quest program, so please understand that this is written purely from a place of loving the tools I've gotten from engaging with this tool multiple times and on multiple levels.

If you're unfamiliar, StrengthsQuest is kind of like a personality test, but it's a lot more involved than that. The general premise is that we can't be all things to all people, so working to our strengths is a good way to go. They've identified 34 strengths, and while everyone may display characteristics of each of the ones they've listed, you're going to have areas where you're strongest.

Here are mine (in order):
  1. Ideation: "People strong in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena." p. 179
  2. Input: "People strong in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information." p. 191
  3. Strategic: "People strong in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues." p. 229
  4. Learner: "People strong in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them." p. 199
  5. Communication: "People strong in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters."

I've taken it more than once, and my strengths did change from the first to the second. The literature around the test would have you believe that your strengths are the core of you, but my experience of some change was also reported by the few other people I know who have taken it more than once. I think it's still a useful tool, even though it's more a reflection of your circumstance than anything else. Regardless, both times 

Here's what this test has helped me do:
  • Reframes weaknesses as strengths. For instance, because I'm so good at noticing connections between seemingly unconnected thing, I used to think that I was going off topic. Now I know it can be a good thing that I notice those connections.
  • Gives a common vocabulary to people who have very different perspectives and/or strengths. Picking on myself again, my ability to find alternate ways to move forward, and talking about them in the planning process, used to strike people as me throwing up roadblocks. After taking that test, and sharing my results, I was able to further communicate that I was trying to warn people of possible future problems so they could avoid them.
  • Better support my staff and help them work to their strengths. This is why I realized I want to tell you all about StrengthsQuest - this month, as I sit down for the one-on-one meetings with everyone who works for me, I've been talking to them about their strengths and the advice from Gallup about how to manage someone with their particular strengths. 

I feel fortunate that where I am now, StrengthsQuest is part of the culture. When they asked about my management style, and I started talking about StrengthsQuest, their eyes lit up. Mine did in return once they explained why. Not only did we already have a shared perspective, we started off with a shared vocabulary. Starting a new job is fraught enough as it is, and StrengthsQuest helped me overcome one major hurdle before I even showed up on campus. I'm a big fan.

So, what about you? Have you taken this test? If so, what did you like about it?



(All quotes are taken from Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie.)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Interview Post: Michelle Reale


Biographical

Name?

Michelle Reale

Current job?

Associate Professor, Access Services and Outreach Librarian


How long have you been in the field?

Over 25 years, though it has been 10 years since I received my MSLS!


How Do You Work?

What is your office/workspace like?

I have a nice corner office with two windows in which the sun streams in every morning! I have my book shelves filled with not only books, but all sorts of things that I collect.

How do you organize your days?

I set an agenda for myself! While I often have a least one meeting a day and several sessions to teach each day, I have two hours blocked out to be able to do research and writing.


What do you spend most of your time doing?
Running around, often from building to building to teach sessions, but also up and down many levels of the library taking care of whatever needs to be done. My days are full of reference work, teaching classes, making lesson plans, grading papers, training students etc. Each day is both different and the same in its own way.
What is a typical day like for you?
I come into work, have my coffee, write in my reflective journal, put some binaural beats br solfeggio on very low in the background which steadies me for the day and then I begin! I take a look at my calendar right away to see what obligations I have. I prepare for them and then get my readings, etc. ready for the two hours I have set aside.
What are you reading right now?
I am reading numerous poetry books, a book on Italian-American writing, and Kinfolk by Pearl S. Buck. Also a book about reading theory. I am all over the place!
What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
I have received so much good advice over the years, but something that really revolutionized my way of being in my career was that I do not have to respond immediately to requests of my time, my opinions, email, anything. Even though someone is pressing me, it is wise, in the long run, to take one’s time to think things through. People will just have to wait. In the past I would cave in to pressure and say “yes” to things I had neither the time nor inclination to do. Even email does not have to be responded to immediately. We set ourselves up for frustration and resentment when we are always in respond mode. It is good to take some control. That was advice from my former boss, a wonderful mentor to me, who just retired. I tell her all the time how it changed me!


What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?
Cleaning the stacks of body fluids!

Inside the Library Studio

What is your favorite word?
It is an Italian word and it is “ovunque”. It means “everywhere.”

What is your least favorite word?
“No,” but only when it is being said to ME!

What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
None. Being  a librarian/writer is all I ever wanted to be. I am proud to have achieved two of my biggest goals.

What profession would you never want to attempt?
A Dentist. Ugh. Or nun.

Everything Else

What superpower do you wish you had?
If I could read minds, it would save me a lot of grief! Human beings are very complex and it is often difficult to read intentions. I mess up a lot.

What are you most proud of in your career?
I have written four books in my field and have just secured a contract for a fifth.  It is very, very important for me to make a contribution in my field.

If you're willing to share, tell about a mistake you made on the job.
I’ve been reactive at times when it would have been better to just be a cool observer. It is never good to have a knee-jerk reaction.  I am really working on this.

When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
Reading, writing, thinking, being out in nature with my two dogs, Miso, a Bichon Shih-tzu and Vanzetti, a five pound Chihuahua. To say I am an introvert is a bit of an understatement.  I would rather be listening to  and observing things around me than to be the one talking.  I often wish the world and daily life were a bit quieter than they are.

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
I haven’t a clue!


Michelle Reale is an associate professor and Librarian at Arcadia University. She has authored four ALA titles in her field of librarianship and is working on a fifth. She has a chapter in the brand new The Feminist Reference Desk: Concepts, Critiques, and Conversations, on the female student and (dis)articulation.  In addition, she has  authored nine poetry collections including the most recent The Marie Curie Sequence (Dancing Girl Press, 2017) and All These Things Were Real: Poems of Delirium Tremens, (West Philly Press, 2017). Confini: Poems of Refugees in Sicily is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press. She is the Book Reviews editor for the Rag Queen Periodical and the Editor-in-Chief of Ovunque Siamo: Italian-American Writing.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Interview Post: Matthew Murray


Biographical

Name?

Matthew Murray

Current job?

Visiting Library Fellow in the Scholarly Communication Initiatives department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries.


How long have you been in the field?

I started this (my first professional library job) in January of this year. (Wait, doesn’t that make ME the young librarian? Why am I writing this?)


How Do You Work?

What is your office/workspace like?

I have a cubicle decorated with buttons/pins, some nerdy toys and a “thank you” card from my coworker’s daughter after I gave them a copy of a volume of DC Super Hero Girls. (I also have some posters of NASA’s Space Tourism series that I haven’t gotten around to putting up yet.) I find it pretty cold, so despite wearing multiple layers of office clothing, I sometimes end up also wearing a hoodie and fingerless gloves (to be fair, I am just generally cold…). There’s no natural light unless I go over to the other side of the office, but if I do that I just see the creepy pyramid (Las Vegas is weird). The library building itself is relatively new (it opened in 2001), big (five floors), and nice! During the school year it is almost always packed with students using our public computers and study spaces.

How do you organize your days?

We have Google’s Education Suite at work, so email is through Gmail and everyone has a Google calendar. This makes it really easy to organize meetings, because you can see when people are available. (You can also easily block out time to work on projects to prevent other people organizing meetings with you.) I try to keep “to do” lists for projects I need to work on, but I’m not always successful at keeping them up to date. I’m getting better at setting deadlines for other people (to give feedback on reports, etc.), because otherwise I’ll discover that yesterday afternoon a bunch of new comments were left on something I thought was finished.


What do you spend most of your time doing?
Writing (and rewriting) project plans, emails, reports, help guides, and other documents. We recently finished up a pilot project dealing with ORCID integration using their API. When that was happening I was spending a lot more time looking at (and formatting) python scripts and XML files.
What is a typical day like for you?
I check to see what meetings I have and if there’s anything I need to do for them. Then I check my email and see if there are any new ones I need to read/reply to. Then I’ll start working on any one of a number of projects depending on when I need to get them done, how much free time I have available that day, and what a coworker with whom I work closely on certain projects is doing that day.
What are you reading right now?
I co-host a podcast called Book Club for Masochists that chooses a random genre every month that we then read and discuss. For instance, in October we’re reading dystopian novels, though I haven’t started any yet (suggestions are welcome!). I just finished an ARC of Paperbacks from Hell, which is all about paperback horror novels from the ‘70s and ‘80s.

I’m also always reading about a billion comics and graphic novels. I recently read The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente which is a neat cyberpunk story set in a future several decades after all the private information in “The Cloud” went public.

At work I am no doubt reading something about research data management or the latest scholarly communications scandal.
What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
Before I started my Master’s in Library Studies I was told that what you do in class doesn’t matter; it’s what you do outside of class that will get you a job.


Also, know your limits and boundaries; sometimes it’s better to say “No” to something than saying “Yes” and becoming overwhelmed.

What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?
Learning Python (though really, it had to happen someday). Being asked to help organize an event because I am an expert in zines. Being chair of a hiring committee.


Inside the Library Studio

What is your favorite word?
Resist.

What is your least favorite word?
The USA’s president has pretty much ruined the word “trump” forever.

What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
Writing and/or editing comic books. (Someday!)

What profession would you never want to attempt?
Capitalist. Any job that would require me to be at work before 8am.

Everything Else

What superpower do you wish you had?
One of those powers that can be used to help other people and/or the environment—like widespread, permanent super-water purification.

What are you most proud of in your career?
Every time I am legitimately able to help someone learn something or gain access to information. Plus: Co-organizing the Zine Pavilion, presenting about comics and libraries at San Diego Comic-Con and Emerald City Comicon, co-founding and editing a student journal, and helping create a Raspberry Pi powered book recommendation machine.

If you're willing to share, tell about a mistake you made on the job.
Swearing in front of my boss’s boss.

When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
Recording/editing my podcast (38 episodes so far!), publishing seven (almost eight!) issues of Two-Fisted Library Stories (a fiction/comics anthology zine), running Cthulhu related role playing games, reading comics and books, reading about comics, editing for No Flying No Tights (a comic book website for library folk), writing postcards to people, obsessing about social media, playing Pandemic Legacy (just about to start June: four wins, four losses), playing video games, and insisting I don’t have to go to bed yet.

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Violet Fox. Annie Pho. Sarah Houghton. Amie Wright.


Matthew tweets at @MidniteLibrary.