The Future Librarian Juggling Act
Back in early 2019, Carson Williams sent me an email out of the blue asking to volunteer his time at Benson Memorial Library in Titusville, Pa. His enthusiasm and drive were apparent from the beginning. I’m glad I said yes; after volunteering for just a few months, he became a permanent employee, and over the last 6 months, he has taken on a bigger role as adult services librarian. To top it all off, Carson has juggled this work with going to school full-time and doing an internship. Carson’s scenario is a common one for folks who are working toward their master’s degree in library science. Part of their day is focused on their day job, another part is focused on their future career, and another part is everything else. Together, it looks like a jumble of chaos—but at the center of the storm are people like Carson who are pulling everything off with such amazing positive energy. These are the people who will take libraries to the next level, and by golly, does the future look bright!
CONGRATS ON COMPLETING YOUR M.L.I.S. DEGREE. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE THAT CHAPTER BEHIND YOU?
Thank you so much! Graduating has felt so rewarding. From the second I changed my major to library science during my undergraduate career, I knew I made the right choice. Everything just made so much sense. Completing my degree feels like the cherry on top of all of my hard work, like the universe patting me on the back and saying, “You’re headed in the right direction!”
YOU WERE JUGGLING FULL-TIME WORK WITH FULL-TIME SCHOOLING AND AN INTERNSHIP OVER THE LAST FEW MONTHS. HOW DID YOU HANDLE ALL OF THIS? WHAT ARE SOME TIPS YOU CAN PASS ALONG FOR OTHERS IN A SIMILAR SITUATION?
It was incredibly stressful. I was able to juggle all of these things by breaking every task up into more manageable chunks and allowing myself to have some self-care days. There were some days where I had to go home from work and just relax for the evening. I would say to anyone who’s struggling to keep up with their workload or schoolwork that it’s okay to take a day off to recharge. You aren’t going to be your best self or be able to produce your best work if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Give yourself permission to enjoy yourself, listen to that new album you’ve heard about, watch that documentary you’ve been meaning to see. If you’re feeling good about yourself and your work, everything else will fall into place naturally.
WHAT DOES YOUR NEW ROLE AS ADULT SERVICES LIBRARIAN ENTAIL? WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THIS ROLE?
I work primarily with the adults in the community and work with our children’s librarian to provide family-oriented programs and services. When it comes to library programs and activities, there’s a lot of emphasis on providing fun, exciting reading programs to children, which is awesome and necessary! However, adults should also be supported and uplifted with fun activities and lifelong learning opportunities. I really enjoy working with the adults in the community, and I try to not complicate the role too much. Adults, just like children and teens, like to have fun, they like to learn, and they really appreciate library programming that is targeted at them. I really enjoy being around my adult library patrons.
WHERE DOES YOUR INSPIRATION FOR PUBLIC PROGRAMS AND EVENTS COME FROM?
Our library has been doing a lot on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, we aren’t sure when our library will be up and running again, so we’ve had to shift our programming to a more online approach. As strange as that was at first, we’ve found a lot of exciting new ways to reach our community and interact with our library patrons.
Throughout this time of uncertainty and panic, our main mission has been to provide online services that bring people together, make everyone feel at ease, and know that their library has their back. We’ve been providing live Facebook concerts, hosting Zoom trivia nights, making personalized reading lists for our patrons, and doing whatever we can to provide educational resources to those who are stuck at home.
The New Old Job
What’s it like to move into a new role in your library system when you’ve been with that system for almost 20 years? Jamie Boorman recently became Wellington City Libraries’ first makerspace specialist after 2 decades in almost every other role in the system. We chat about that change and what it has been like to put together and then open HIVE, the first community makerspace in Wellington, New Zealand.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY TOWARD YOUR NEW ROLE AND WHAT YOU’RE FEELING NOW THAT YOU’RE IN IT.
I have worked at Wellington City Libraries for nearly 19 years (since I was 16), and I have always had an interest in tech and creating things. I got involved with our robotics and our maker programs right from the word go, and this position was a dream come true when it came up. Now I am here, and it is everything I had hoped. I am a librarian/teacher/IT repairman/builder/recording engineer. It is wonderful and never boring!
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH OVER THE NEXT YEAR?
My main goal is to train the staff to be as confident as me on all of our equipment. This is quite a big challenge, but since the COVID-19 lockdown, everyone has been so keen to get involved, and I feel we have the makings of a special team. I also am trying to draw in people from our local community who usually would not come to a library. I want them to see that we have something for everyone and that we offer far more than just books and the internet.
YOU’RE WORKING AT THE LIBRARY SYSTEM’S NEW WAITOHI COMMUNITY HUB. WHAT’S IT LIKE SHARING YOUR BUILDING WITH OTHER COMMUNITY SERVICES?
It has been really good! I have been starting to do some collaborative work with the cafe located in our shared community hub, helping them make signs and decorations for their space. The kindergarten located in our building visits the library for regular storytimes. This building and the shared services in it are starting to feel like a real family that works together.
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MAKERSPACE DOES FOR YOUR COMMUNITY? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU ARE SEEING YOUR LIBRARY GUESTS USE YOUR MAKERSPACE FOR?
It has provided a really creative atmosphere that the public didn’t really have before. The guests have been from every facet of the community, and the ideas they have are endless. Most people at the moment are making keepsakes or ornaments. But we are starting to see an increase in cosplayers and in designers prototyping in our space. We have also seen an increase in people using the studio, mainly for voice recording and making demo tracks. We have had people of all ages come in and want to learn 3D design. It really is heartwarming.
WHAT’S A TYPICAL DAY LIKE FOR YOU?
It begins with some pre-work caffeination, then off to the HIVE to check on the overnight 3D prints. Once the overnight prints have been taken out, I boot up all the PCs, fire up all the machines, and get ready for opening. At this point of the day, I also put any long laser cutter jobs into the machine. Once we are open, I start de-rafting any models that are waiting to be picked up, email patrons, and get any other jobs ready to go. During the day, we get quite a few people coming through, usually for a quick tour or a demo of some of the gear. Some want to get a small print on-the-go so they can see what it is like, either in the 3D printer or laser cutter. We keep the studio in working order during the day and just make sure everything is working as it should. With any luck, the day will continue in much the same vein. Toward closing time, we put any really long jobs into the 3D printers so that they can run overnight, we open up the studio for the cleaners, power down all the PCs, and then lock the room for the night.