February 16, 2018

Mary Buckley | Movers & Shakers 2003

Just Do It


Mary Buckley believes there are two things people worry about: the things you can do something about and the things you can’t. If you can fix them, you should just do it, and if you can’t, there’s no point in wasting time and energy obsessing about them. To be sure, there’s some doubt whether she has actually ever discovered a problem she can’t do anything about.

This is the spirit she has brought to the job of circulation supervisor at one of the campuses of George Mason University. The person at the circulation desk, of course, is the first to notice when library policies don’t match the specific problems of the people standing there asking for help. So Buckley requested – and won – the right to bend the rules when necessary to provide good service to her library users. She also wrote new customer service guidelines for the circulation department that were brought into use throughout the system. Finally, she wrote a circulation supervisor’s handbook that likewise is used at all of the George Mason libraries.

Embodying the ideal circulation supervisor’s personality, Buckley combines the kindness to be a mother hen to the student workers, the sternness to kick their butts, and a keen understanding of when to use which approach. The same personality traits that work so well with student workers also make Buckley a perfect mediator, smoothing all the little casual social bumps and bruises that threaten to disrupt day-to-day working relationships.

Buckley also represents the library to wider communities. As supervisor of cooperative borrowing agreements, she has worked to extend library borrowing privileges to community residents and has coordinated a partnership between the library and a nearby biotechnology firm.

A self-starter who learned reference skills in order to assist users better with their information needs, Buckley is interested in creating opportunities for professional development and advancement for other library paraprofessionals. She cochaired the Paraprofessional Forum at the most recent Virginia Library Association conference and relished the challenge. “As a wife of a military man, I am nothing if not organized,” she says. “This was just a way to see if I could still handle the maneuvers.”

She views such training as an important step in gaining for paraprofessionals the respect and appreciation they deserve. So is doing the job with the kind of initiative, tact, and problem-solving skill that Buckley brings to work each day. If you can fix a problem, just do it.




Current Position: Circulation Supervisor, Prince William Campus Library, George Mason University, Manassas, VA

Association Work: Cochair, Virginia Library Association Paraprofessional Forum, 2001 – 02