"I like being different! I have a very non-conventional role, I’ve had a lot of flexibility to integrate the library and its services into new environments, and I like not being what people expect a librarian to be."
Q: What made you decide to choose this career?
A: When I enrolled in SLIS, I knew I wanted to work with information, but I really didn’t know in what capacity, because I knew I didn’t know all of the potential uses for the degree. So with that in mind, I’m not sure it’s accurate to say I really “chose” the career path I’m on now. I started off in SLIS wanting to try different things and take on new challenges and learn as much as I could about different opportunities. That tactic sparked my interest in the health sciences, that interest led to a post-graduate fellowship, and the fellowship led to the job I currently have. There’s been a huge amount of serendipity involved, and I’m just glad I left my mind (and my options!) open along the way.
Q: What is your job title and what are your chief duties?
A: I’m the Clinical and Translational Science Liaison at the University of Michigan’s Taubman Health Sciences Library. Basically, my role is to integrate information resources and information management services into various biomedical research environments - anything from bench laboratories to clinical studies to the administrators that support research teams. Right now I’m doing a lot of work with collaborative technologies and designing and implementing some really interesting data management projects.
Our library runs on a liaison model, so each librarian has a designated area or set of departments and works to build relationships and provide services to those liaison areas. In addition to working with our translational science community, I’m the designated liaison to Medical School departments or divisions, spanning a pretty broad content area - from Pediatrics and Pathology to Oncology and Laboratory Animal Medicine. I’m also the liaison responsible for supporting several of UM’s big research centers, including the Cancer Center and the Taubman Medical Research Institute. Because of my responsibilities to the research community, I have a lot less contact with students than most of my colleagues, but I do work with graduate medical students (residents and fellows) and support our Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars, and I’m part of a team assigned to UM’s College of Pharmacy.
Q: What do you like most about your career?
A: That if you’d asked me 5 years ago what I’d be doing with my degree, I wouldn’t have even been able to imagine doing the kinds of things I’m doing right now. And from day to day, I can be engaged in completely different things. One day all my work could involve intellectual property issues, copyright, open access publishing, etc. The next day it could be a complicated literature search on a topic I’ve never even heard of, and the day after that I could be preparing to teach a class on a piece of software that I just learned about myself, building a database, or creating a digital lab manual. I love working with people, and in my job, I get to work with a lot of different people - in one day I could be working with administrators, senior researchers, laboratory managers and students - and tailoring information and delivery to diverse audiences is a challenge I really enjoy. Last but not least, I like being different! I have a very non-conventional role, I’ve had a lot of flexibility to integrate the library and its services into new environments, and I like not being what people expect a librarian to be.
Q: What do you like most about holding a master’s degree in LIS?
A: For me, the MLIS degree is really no more than the means to an end - I wanted to work in information and the degree was one step on the road to achieving that goal.
Q: What other positions have you held as an LIS professional?
A: My job at UM is my first professional position - I’ve been there since 2008. I’m also an adjunct in SLIS and have taught the health sciences courses (7610 and 7620).