Digital Resources Librarian at Midland County Public Libraries (Midland, TX)
"The iSchool actually helped me prepare for this in ways I hadn't realized. I didn't specifically specialize in User Experience or Interfaces, but the principles I learned in my coursework now influence the way I edit our website for the end user."
In my role, I handle much of the library's digital access to resources such as e-books, music and video streaming, and databases provided by the TexShare consortium. I am responsible for training both staff and patrons in using each resource. For patrons, this means marketing the materials through flyers, bookmarks, and digital graphics; creating helpful how-to guides; and troubleshooting any technical issues that may come up. I am constantly networking with vendors and patrons to make sure all of our subscriptions are functioning properly. Based on the needs and interests of our community, I also research and recommend new resources according to our budget, and this requires so much networking and communication.
My other responsibilities include managing the library website, all of the social media accounts, and much of the visual marketing. I collaborate with each department to plan and strategize upcoming events, making sure posts are scheduled in a timely fashion and information is clear and easy to find on any of our platforms. The iSchool actually helped me prepare for this in ways I hadn't realized. I didn't specifically specialize in User Experience or Interfaces, but the principles I learned in my coursework now influence the way I edit our website for the end user. I am able to read and understand data and feedback from multiple viewpoints to ensure that our community members get what they need, when they need it. In addition to that, I can navigate social media like a pro to find out when our posts reach the largest audience and how it affects our in-library performance. Perhaps my favorite tool from the iSchool is my grasp on web development, database management, and some very, very basic form of machine learning. I never took a machine learning course, but because I learned (and self-taught) a lot of coding in the iSchool, I am well-prepared to research, evaluate, and implement coding and robotics clubs for my library system. When I'm not working behind-the-scenes with digital resources, I am able to work with my community--patrons of all ages--to teach digital literacy and STEM skills.
I never imagined myself in a position like this one. I come from a humanities background, and many of the things that interest me are in the humanities. Working with technology is like a breath of fresh air, though (when it works). I'm never bored because I always have something to learn, and while I sometimes don't like that it's part of my job, I'm always left with a sense of accomplishment when I get something finished. It's almost like getting paid to learn! My advice to any iSchool student who will have it is the same advice I was given when I joined the iSchool myself: always be open to new opportunities, new experiences, and new skills. You never know what you might learn to like, love, or at least tolerate.