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What Info Pros Are Grateful For
by
Posted On November 3, 2020
PAGE: 1 2 3


Because 2020 has been all kinds of awful, I want to celebrate whatever silver linings we can find. Here are some thoughts from 15 info pros, who share what they’re grateful for in their professional lives, new technologies they’ve adopted, and anything else that comes to mind. I hope their positivity can lift you up and help you reflect on the good things you’ve experienced this year.

Stephen AbramStephen Abram

M.L.S.; CEO of Lighthouse Consulting, Inc.; and executive director of the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries

What in your professional life are you most grateful for this year?

I’ve been grateful to have the opportunity to be able to work from home and still achieve my organizational goals. I am also thankful for the ability to continue to interact with the people and teams I work with—including my federation members, civil servants, partners, and our legislature. It proves that good people can achieve even under trying circumstances. My challenge is the ever-present device and learning to create work-life-home balance.

What new tech have you learned and/or enjoyed this year as part of your job?

Could we work successfully during COVID without our webinar and web conferencing software? Over the years, I think I’ve used so many meeting and webinar apps that I now have the feeling that this is a sector ripe for consolidation—if the innovation ever becomes stagnant. From memory: Zoom, PheedLoop, Adobe Connect, GoToMeeting, Skype, Webex, AWS Chime, SlideShare, GoToWebinar, Windows Live Meeting MS Team, Google Hangouts, join.me, Blackboard, Canvas, Google Meet, YouTube, Vimeo, and quite a few more, and I’m not including the web teleconferencing apps. Whew! At least the learning curve gets smaller every time.

Are there any other positive things about your work life this year that you’d like to share?

I have invested time in professional education and personal learning. I have taken advantage of the webinars and conferences (like CIL/IL) that allowed me to grow as a professional. In particular, I have been increasing my skills in the area of social networking, content writing, and social media. It is a way to reduce loneliness during lockdown. I have also loved doing many virtual workshops around the world. Librarianship is a big tent, and we are all struggling to create a better “Next Normal”! As an aside, it has even spilled over into my social and family life, with Zoom trivia games, parties, and conversations with friends and colleagues.


Jenny ArchJenny Arch

children’s services and adult services librarian at Winchester Public Library in Massachusetts

What in your professional life are you most grateful for this year?

As a children’s librarian, I’m grateful that publishers almost immediately relaxed their public performance copyright restrictions on picture books, so that librarians and teachers could offer virtual read-alouds. Once it became clear that this pandemic was not going to get under control anytime soon, the publishers extended their permissions again. I’m grateful in particular to author Kate Messner, who quickly put together a resource for teachers and librarians with the publisher permissions in one place (School Library Journal eventually did this too), and who encouraged educators to use her (many) books for education and entertainment. Speaking of children’s authors and illustrators, so many of them jumped online and began reaching out to kids stuck at home: Mo Willems’ Lunch Doodles were excellent, and Dan Santat read his and Minh Le’s book LIFT aloud the week before its publication date. I’m grateful for the whole KidLit community. I’m grateful for colleagues who communicated with each other to offer as much as we could to our patrons from home and who insisted on the opportunity to be part of the reopening safety planning process. I’m grateful that our voices were heard and that reopening has been proceeding slowly and safely.

What new tech have you learned and/or enjoyed this year as part of your job?

Zoom was new to me, but I got to know it very quickly starting in March! At my library, we use Zoom for meetings and for programs; some colleagues also offered programs on Facebook Live. While our ILS is only accessible from computers in the library building, many other tools, platforms, and services we use regularly can be accessed from home: Canva for design, Hootsuite to manage social media, Beanstack for summer reading, and our vendors for ordering new materials.

Are there any other positive things about your work life this year that you’d like to share?

I’ve had the opportunity to do so much professional development this year! Of course, there were no in-person conferences—usually I would have gone to our state conference in the spring and regional conference in the fall—but the online offerings were rich and varied. In July, a few colleagues and I started Project READY, working through a module every week or two.


Michelle BakerMichelle Baker

library assistant at Somersworth Public Library in New Hampshire

What in your professional life are you most grateful for this year?

This year, I have been most grateful for my colleagues, who have been flexible and cooperative amidst all the changes to our services, and to our patient and appreciative patrons. Between closure, furloughs, remote work, curbside service, and reopening, it has been a wild and crazy year! While the loss of in-person conferences has been sad, it’s actually made it possible for me and my colleagues at small libraries to attend more conferences than usual. I’m grateful for all the virtual opportunities I’ve had to learn and interact with librarians around the country.

What new tech have you learned and/or enjoyed this year as part of your job?

Being closed to the public for over 5 months gave me the opportunity to put more time into the library’s Facebook page and to engage with our community there. I have enjoyed learning what our patrons want and love to see on our Facebook page! Through our state library, I have also had the opportunity to work with the READsquared online summer reading platform. I’ve enjoyed using Canva more to create fun Facebook post images, and I was delighted at how much it’s helped me to create Trello boards to keep track of my library tasks, projects, and social media content calendar.

Are there any other positive things about your work life this year that you’d like to share?

Being closed to the public gave us the opportunity to work on long-awaited projects that we couldn’t spare the staff to work on sooner. We did a lot of weeding and rearranging of our collections, which meant digging deep into our ILS to create reports and use tools that we hadn’t explored much (like batch deletions and creating public book lists).


Nathan CurullaNathan Curulla

owner/CRO of ByWater Solutions

What in your professional life are you most grateful for this year?

I am grateful for many things this year regarding ByWater. First and foremost, I am grateful for the talented team we have on staff and for the fact that we were able to add three new people to our team during the last month despite the challenges faced with COVID-19. I am also very grateful for the fact that we have been a fully work-from-home company for the past 11 years, and the changes brought on by the lockdowns did not affect our business processes at all and allowed us to provide uninterrupted service to our customers. Our libraries have enough [problems] to deal with right now, and we are happy to have been able to ensure their ILS has not been one of them. 

What new tech have you learned and/or enjoyed this year as part of your job?

We opened two new departments at ByWater this year. One is for the implementation and support of the FOLIO project in cooperation with EBSCO. This has been a very exciting journey, and the technology behind FOLIO is both state-of-the-art and very impressive. The second department is for the Aspen Discovery product. This is an amazing system, and the technology behind the record-grouping functionality is unmatched. We really enjoy being able to use FRBR to group item types and make the search experience even more seamless both for our Koha libraries and libraries utilizing other ILSs with Aspen sitting on top.

Are there any other positive things about your work life this year that you’d like to share?

We are still growing rapidly! Despite the difficulties faced in 2020, ByWater has shown a growth rate of 24% so far. This has allowed us to grow our team and offer more products and services to our library partners, as well as focus time on pro-bono development initiatives to improve the functionality of the systems we support for all the libraries who utilize them, whether or not they are a ByWater customer. We have also frozen all rate increases for our customers for both 2020 and 2021 renewals. We see the potential for budget cuts on the horizon and want to alleviate as much stress as possible for libraries who partner with us.


Darrell W. GunterDarrell W. Gunter

president and CEO of Gunter Media Group, Inc.

What in your professional life are you most grateful for this year?

I am grateful for having clients like Underline Science and Ripeta who are creating new, innovative ways to improve the quality and delivery of scholarly content. It is such a blessing to work with Alex Lazinica (Underline Science) and Leslie McIntosh (Ripeta), as they both are from academe and are working towards the same goal of Making Better Science easier.

What new tech have you learned and/or enjoyed this year as part of your job? 

I am so impressed and excited about blockchain and the great possibilities that it presents. I know there are some people who are skeptical of blockchain, but after I obtained my certificate in blockchain from MIT, it opened my eyes to possibilities. I am currently editing a book on blockchain that should be published in the spring of 2021.

Are there any other positive things about your work life this year that you’d like to share?

Since I have been working remotely since 2007, I have watched how the business world has adopted to working virtually, and it has improved the communication with potential clients as they have migrated to working remotely. Now, they are very open to meeting via video.


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Brandi Scardilli is the editor of NewsBreaks and Information Today.

Email Brandi Scardilli

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