SLA 2011: Success Stories of Solos

Success Stories of Solos
Lee Ann R. Benkert, National Security Space Institute
Eileen Boswell, Community Transportation Association of America
Beth Maser, LAC Group

Lee Ann is a recent grad who managed to become permanent in a temporary position she had. No one had been using the library, so she’s working on marketing the library and spreading its goodness.

She began reaching out to the library’s clients to market their services and find out what they should change. One fellow said he had worked at the institute for six years and that was the first time anyone had asked him what he needed. He’s now one of her biggest advocates. Because she did this big project to find out what people need and how the library can serve them, her bosses and colleagues now take her more seriously.

People talk in the hallways and that’s where and how business happens. People are very tied to their desks because of email, etc. Lee Ann rearranged the library space to make more walking space/pathways, so people would pass each other more. Getting away is rare. The library can’t wait for them to come to the library. They must reach out.

Her ultimate success is that she is now the library manager.

Eileen: Special librarians work in the white spaces of the organizational chart–Susan Pfifer Canby. There are things that need to be done that aren’t a job yet or no one is doing. Find those spaces and do those tasks.

Eileen describes her job with the small association as “choose your own adventure.” She says the framework of her job is doing various projects, not doing a bunch of regular tasks and fitting projects around those activities.

She’s part of the “tech team”–6 people in 30 who do tech jobs. They needed a trainer and she has that experience. She helps people use their computers better. She worked on Web accessibility—posting a statement online, recommending site changes, and telling others. She investigated how the Census and its results might impact community transit. Marketing isn’t that scary. Being seen as a “Jane of all trades” can be valuable and also bad because wearing too many hats can dilute your important role in the organization as the librarian and take your time and skills away from librarian tasks.

Beth: made an unexpected shift in her career that still allows her to use her library degree and which she finds quite satisfactory. Look for new opportunities, network, dream big, talk to folks, don’t be afraid to say “No” or try something new, don’t burn bridges … Stay current. Become your own champion. There’s no such question as a stupid question. The world is your oyster.

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