What first attracted you to a career in library and information management?
I have worked in libraries since the age of 19 and am comfortable in that environment. I remember some of my close friends encouraged me enter library school. While working as a library assistant at the New York Botanical Garden, I applied to the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Queens College. I was accepted and so began my path into librarianship.
What do you enjoy most about your work at the Bronx Community College?
I enjoy working with students the most. As I teach them research skills, I also learn from them and their experiences. The resilience and strength of our students at CUNY is inspiring. This is the most rewarding aspect of my work at Bronx Community College.
You liaise with a number of different departments at your college. What are your go to reference resources for serving this range of disciplines?
A lot of my work revolves around teaching library information literacy classes in the different departments from English to Physical Education. My go to databases for these courses are Gale eBooks (formerly Gale Virtual Reference Library), Nexis Uni, ScienceDirect, Academic Search Complete and Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context. All these resources are great for background research and argument building for our students.
Teamwork and collaboration are important aspects of library and information work. What are your tips for working productively and harmoniously with your colleagues?
(1) Do not take anything personally
Working closely with others can easily create conflict. Differing personalities and working styles sometimes clash. Always remember that the work and what others do is never personal. Keep the goals for the project professional and at the forefront. The objective is always to help each other, fulfill the goals of the institution and provide the best service to patrons.
(2) Encourage others and be open to learn
Encouraging and supporting colleagues helps morale and recognizes others for their contributions. The beauty of working with others is that everyone brings their areas of expertise to the project and this helps create a robust team. It is also important to know your weak points and be receptive to learning from colleagues.
What advice do you have for colleagues embarking on a career in information management?
Find a mentor that can help guide you through the beginning stages of your career. Remain active professionally and seek opportunities to grow through library associations, grants, and conferences. There are many ways to improve your skills and learn once in the LIS field. If there is a specific interest, make sure to focus your professional development in that area. Finally, do not forget to be gracious with yourself. Become comfortable with saying no to new ventures when you are overwhelmed.
We are living through exceptional times. In your mind how will the notable events of 2020 change the way library and information services are delivered in the future?
This is a defining moment for our profession in delivering services virtually. We do this out of necessity and safety. I think in the future the LIS profession will no longer be defined by brick and mortar. Libraries can literally be everywhere and anywhere. The profession has proven its value during difficult times and its ability to adapt. I envision LIS having a continued virtual presence in subsequent years.
This year has placed extraordinary mental, emotional, and physical strain on so many. More LIS professionals are becoming aware of the ways oppression works for marginalized communities and the working class. More than ever, library organizations and other institutions are aware of the need to be genuinely inclusive, eschew neutrality, and to combat barriers for LIS professionals of color.
As a member of SLA what advice do you have for successful networking within the library and information community?
When introduced to an institution or association, I would recommend identifying a mentor (formal or informal) to help with transitioning and perhaps introduce you to fellow members. I was lucky enough to join SLA through a good colleague. Becoming active like joining interest groups, attending events, and conversing on SLA's Connect are some ways to keep yourself open to professional partnerships or opportunities.
What are your favorite ways to relax when you finally get some downtime from your busy job?
Listening to my favorite spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, is a great way to relax. His books and recorded talks teach me to be present in my daily life. Being present has helped me to remove the noise of a busy day and find peace in all moments.