This series made possible by:
Director of Information Technology
Fayetteville Public Library, AR
BS, Computer Systems Engineering, University of Arkansas, College of Engineering, Fayetteville, 1992
Polaris Users Group steering committee
IMPROVING WILDLIFE HABITATS
Has lobbied in Washington, DC, for Trout Unlimited and National Wildlife Federation
Photo ©Sean McGinty Photography LLC
What skills, events, or other opportunities have you found most useful to your career?
I believe my willingness to adapt and embrace change has been very useful to me in my professional life. I also hold good customer service as a core belief and it’s something deeply engrained from my time at Wal-Mart corporate. Coupled with my commitment to never be condescending , not be a typical “IT guy”, and always be willing to patiently help others learn technology, has opened many doors for me in my career.
Is there a colleague or mentor who has helped you in your career, and, if so, how did they help?
Absolutely! Former FPL Executive Director, Louise Schaper (retired). Louise introduced me to “libraryland” as I like to call it and gave me the opportunity to lead the technology efforts of an award winning library. I had no idea what I was in for! Libraries are so high tech these days and take a special kind of leader to really stand out. Louise is that kind of leader and she immersed me in what it means to be a librarian, though my degree is engineering. Her passion for libraries, broad understanding of technology, leadership skills and her willingness to push the envelope, do things like others won’t even try, and shatter old paradigms is absolutely contagious.
Do you feel that any of the equity gaps — generational, gender, racial, educational — in the library world have affected your career’s trajectory?
I have not experienced this personally. Though library staff tend to be mostly female, from FPL to those I have visited professionally, I have never felt like an outsider.
What do library schools have to do to better prepare graduates for the job market?
Requiring internships at a library as part of a degree requirement would be very beneficial to the graduate. Nothing better than real world experience. Also having a hands on approach – getting library students in front of multiple ILS systems, sending them to the ALA conference as part of their course work, teach them how to produce original digital content, etc. And very important – teach them public speaking skills. Skills in presenting and public speaking cannot be stressed enough.
Where would you like to be in five years professionally? What’s your dream job?
Honestly, this is my dream job. I get to touch every facet of technology, I get to teach, help plan events, implement new technologies and I get to help others daily. And it’s fun! I plan to be with FPL in some capacity until retirement. After which I plan to start a fly fishing guide service.
What was your biggest failure as a librarian and what did you learn from that experience that helped you grow?
Jumping into an ebook service before fully understanding how the patrons were going to use the system. It has been one of the biggest failures in the library world in my opinion. It was so complicated for patrons initially that I regretted committing before knowing what the experience was going to be like for our average patron. It was miserable for them and still presents a challenge to this day. I learned to get a complete, first person experience demonstration first!
Any words of wisdom for those coming into the field?
Take every opportunity to get over your fear of public speaking and learn how to engage an audience. Proactively seek opportunities to present before groups. Be flexible, learn how to adapt to change, don’t get emotionally attached to a method, piece of equipment or pet project. Stay abreast of trends in technology, learn to use the latest gadget before your patrons get one for Christmas and show up at the Ref desk wanting help. Make work fun!