A Ten Year Odyssey

Thursday marked ten years as a librarian at IUPUI University Library (UL). In fact, it marked ten years as a librarian period. This milestone seems like an appropriate time for reflection.

Like many librarians I talk to, I didn’t set out with the intention of becoming a librarian. While in graduate school, a friend told me about the dual degree program that would allow me to earn my MA in Public History and an MLS at the same time. The real attraction for me was that the dual degree meant two more years of structured classes rather than two years of unstructured thesis writing. I was working full-time, and this dual degree option seemed more feasible and achievable for me. I still didn’t think I would ever work as a librarian.

How quickly your life plan can change. I will be forever grateful to that grad school friend. During my second year of library science classes, I quit my full-time job and started an internship in the Indiana State Library‘s Manuscripts Section, which seemed a great combination of public history and library science. Maybe I could be an archivist or manuscripts librarian. I also got a graduate assistant position at UL in Reference and Interlibrary Services. And that was it.

In interlibrary loan, I found my place. I was providing a much needed service and satisfying my love of mystery at the same time. (Finding an item to fulfill an interlibrary loan request can be real detective work.) The work of interlibrary loan (and resource sharing more broadly) reflects my belief in the intrinsic value of service and learning. It is also a perfect platform for some of my skills and traits — attention to detail, organization and logistics, problem-solving, ability to learn new technologies. The evolving landscape of resource sharing gives me the opportunity to be innovative and take part in new and interesting projects, which is important for someone who can bore easily. My involvement in resource sharing has also led me to take a broader view of collection management and sparked an interest in shared collections (just another form of resource sharing in my opinion).

IUPUI University Library has also been a good fit for me. There is a culture here that embraces innovation and experimentation and allows for failure. My role at UL has evolved as well. I was initially hired as the Visiting Interlibrary Loan Librarian, supervising Interlibrary Services. Over time, Interlibrary Services grew and became an independent department named Resource Sharing & Delivery Services in recognition of the services we offer beyond interlibrary loan. Plus, many of you may not know that I’ve also been a long-time member of the Bibliographic & Metadata Services department. What began as an original cataloging assignment expanded to include metadata librarian and eventually department head. These diverse responsibilities have kept things interesting. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life.

I’ve grown a lot over the last decade. I found a field that I believe in and love. I’ve made a difference for my library and, I hope, the resource sharing community at large. I have more belief in my own abilities and expertise and am much more comfortable speaking in front of groups. Service and learning continue to be core to who I am, but the importance of making significant contributions and giving back has grown. I’ve received so much support and encouragement over the past ten years, and now is the time to start paying it forward. As I begin to look ahead at the next ten years, I won’t even hazard a guess at what they might hold, but I hope resource sharing, in all its forms, continues to be a prominent part of the picture.

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A Whirlwind IFLA Experience

A Whirlwind IFLA Experience

As a way of processing what felt like a whirlwind IFLA experience, or perhaps a marathon, I want to capture some of my thoughts and impressions here. My IFLA experience began with a trip to one of my favorite cities, Washington DC, for the Document Delivery & Resource Sharing Section‘s Satellite Meeting. I was there solely as an attendee, which is a rarity for me these days, but definitely a welcome change. The program was full of great programs, but two stood out for me because I found connections with my own work.

First was a presentation from Silvana Mangiaracina and Emanuela Secinaro on their research into whether Italian library users are using social media to obtain articles rather than the library and, more specifically, NILDE, the Italian interlibrary loan network. It was exciting to see similar research being done in another country, especially since the findings were the same. ILL is alive and well!

The second was a presentation from Megan Gaffney who reported on her initial efforts to investigate ILL between the US and Latin America. It was fascinating to hear how ILL services are perceived by Latin American countries, and one of the survey responses Megan mentioned gave me inspiration for a future project. More on that at a later date.

After a quick pit stop to repack, I drove to Columbus, Ohio, for the main event, the 2016 IFLA World Library & Information Congress. I had never been to a Congress before and am so grateful I had the opportunity thanks to a US National Committee Fellowship. It was especially humbling to learn that 3,300 people from around the world applied for the 180 fellowships awarded.

I tried to hit all the highlights of an IFLA Congress — fellow program, US Caucus, Newcomers Session, Opening Session, Exhibit Hall, and Cultural Evening. I also saw many interesting and thought-provoking presentations by librarians from nearly every continent. I learned more about copyright and attempts at reform in four different countries; interlibrary loan in the Republic of Korea and Italy; how six librarians in four different countries have handled weeding; the ISSN International Centre‘s efforts to address scholarly publishing ethics and the changing information environment; and the current status of the new ISO ILL standard (ISO 18626).

However, what struck me most about IFLA was the atmosphere, the eagerness and delight of everyone to connect and share with other librarians despite cultural differences and language barriers, and most of all, how the issues we face are often the same whether we are from Indiana or Uganda.

Profiles in Resource Sharing

I was recently the subject of the Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Resource Sharing‘s “Profiles in Resource Sharing” column. Ryan Litsey, the journal’s Associate Editor, sent me a list of questions. Below are my answers for those who (like me!) don’t have subscription access.

Tell us who you are and who you work for.
Tina Baich. I am the Head of Resource Sharing & Delivery Services and Bibliographic & Metadata Services at IUPUI University Library.

How long have you been in resource sharing?
I began my resource sharing career as a Graduate Assistant in the Interlibrary Services department at IUPUI University Library (UL) in the fall of 2005. When I graduated from library school, UL was hiring a visiting librarian to supervise interlibrary loan, and I got the job. I’ve been a librarian at UL for nearly 10 years now. Though my responsibilities have increased over the years, I continue to be responsible for interlibrary loan and related resource sharing services.

What is it about resource sharing you like the most?
I’ve always been a mystery lover, and resource sharing immediately appealed to that part of me. From the time I was a graduate assistant processing requests, I’ve always loved the puzzle that difficult requests present. Interlibrary loan requires detective skills and nothing beats solving the mystery.

As my responsibilities have taken me away from day to day processing, I’ve come to love the comradery of the resource sharing community and the opportunities to share knowledge and help others improve their resource sharing abilities (and detective skills).

What was your most proud moment in resource sharing?
Honestly, I am proud and humbled to have been selected by my peers to receive the 2016 Virginia Boucher-OCLC Distinguished ILL Librarian Award. It is hugely gratifying to know that my colleagues recognize my devotion to resource sharing and the efforts I have made to have an impact on the community. This honor narrowly surpasses the pride I felt in being elected Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect of ALA RUSA STARS and entrusted with leading the national organization that represents the resource sharing community.

What was the most difficult item you have gotten for a patron?
The international resource sharing community and their willingness to share with us constantly amaze me. I’ve been able to locate and obtain items from around the world for our users by going outside our normal OCLC channels. One item that sticks out in my mind is a book we borrowed from a university in Estonia back in 2008. It was hard to track down, and it brought a huge feeling of success when the library actually sent it!

What is unique about your resource sharing operation?
I don’t know if it is really unique, but my library places enormous value on resource sharing services and recognizes the important role they play in providing our users with access to the information they need. This gives me the support I need try new and innovative services and the freedom to make changes to improve our existing services.

What piece of advice would you give to a new ILL librarian?
Get connected. Successful resource sharing is built on relationships. Join e-mail discussion lists. Attend conferences. Look for any and every opportunity to connect with the resource sharing community. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the collaboration, input, and friendship of my resource sharing colleagues.

Required acknowledgement: This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in the Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Resource Sharing 2016 Ryan Litsey & Tina Baich; Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Resource Sharing is available online at http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wild20. The published version of this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1072303X.2016.1172912.

Research Evolution

Research Evolution

In the spirit of my last post, I’d like to share an exercise I did in preparation for a recent mentoring meeting. The topic of the meeting was how to generate topics or identify areas of interest and whether I thought a librarian’s publications should have a thematic direction or consistency.

That is a conversation demanding preparation or at least a little self-reflection. I started by printing out the publications portion of my CV and categorizing them. There is a little variation, but two distinct categories did emerge: (1) open access and interlibrary loan and (2) international interlibrary loan. Then I tried to think back, back, back to the days when I was just starting as a professional librarian. How did the beginning shape where I am now?

When I became a librarian, the thought of doing research with a capital R wasn’t appealing and was, in fact, a little intimidating. With the help of my then boss, I started out doing presentations of practical advice for interlibrary loan (ILL) practitioners instead. That evolved into an interest in web-based ILL finding aids and teaching others the tools I found to locate difficult requests. Then I got involved in the ALA RUSA STARS International Interlibrary Loan Committee, which accounts for one of my publication categories, but also expanded my previous finding aid work to include international publications.

All of this interest in finding aids logically evolved into an interest in open access. What could be better than helping people locate where a thing is? Well, helping people locate the actual thing, of course. Eventually, I started integrating my library’s request data into my open access and interlibrary loan presentations, which in turn led to a body of writing on the topic that might even be consider Research.

Through this thought exercise, I learned about myself and was able to help a mentee. The prospect of generating topics that will interest both you and your potential audience can be intimidating, but the ideas will come. Take time to reflect on your daily work and find the things that matter to you. Start presenting. Have conversations. Let your interests evolve. Start writing. You never know when you may even see a thematic direction emerge that you never would have anticipated.

Mentoring is Resource Sharing

Two years ago, the Dean asked a colleague and me to represent to the library as members of the IUPUI Mentoring Academy. I agreed because, as Dean Lewis pointed out, I had recently gone through the tenure process, making it likely that a number of my fellow librarians would come to me for guidance. I thought the Mentoring Academy would give me skills to better mentor and guide those that sought my advice.

Little did my colleague and I know, we were about to be tasked with developing a mentoring program for the library faculty. To be completely honest, I was not thrilled at this prospect. I didn’t think mentoring was “my thing.” But, like the dutiful librarian I am, I worked with my colleague to develop a program proposal and then to revise that proposal when we didn’t secure campus funding in the first round.

When I found out our program proposal was funded in September 2015, another colleague and I were in need of a capstone project for a campus leadership program we were beginning. Implementing the mentoring program seemed like the perfect fit. It felt like something I was obligated to do anyway, and it could now fill this secondary obligation as well.

Thus began the planning of events to get the mentoring program off the ground and to provide development opportunities for our librarians. Slowly, my attitude began to change. As I moved through the leadership program and the mentoring program planning, I began to recognize all the mentoring relationships I already have. They are largely informal, but I’ve been helped along the way by numerous mentors. I also began to recognize that I am already a mentor to several friends and colleagues, again informally. Then I began mentoring librarians within my library, and the attitude adjustment was complete.

This journey brought on an epiphany. Mentoring is exactly “my thing.” Mentoring is resource sharing. It all seems so obvious now. My entire librarian life has been devoted to resource sharing, and now I’ve found another method. By offering to mentor and providing development opportunities for my fellow librarians, I’m sharing some of my most personal and precious resources — my time, my experience, and my empathy. Resource sharing doesn’t stop with the books we buy or the articles we deliver or even with our ILL expertise. To make a successful community, resource sharing must extend to our very selves.

Show Your Deep Work

I recently read two seemingly contradictory books, Cal Newport‘s Deep Work and Austin Kleon‘s Show Your Work! Deep Work includes a chapter titled “Quit Social Media,” while Kleon says to share every day. So what am I to do? Newport does give his readers permission to stay on social media if its positive impact outweighs its negatives. It’s just clear that he thinks that is a rare state of affairs. But that permission means not all sharing avenues are closed.

Truthfully, I’m not a huge social media sharer to begin with, so I’ve quickly carved out what I think is a middle ground. I’ll still post to Facebook when the mood strikes me. I’ll still check out the Twitter feed when I attend a conference. That’s it for social media. I think the best way for me to #showyourwork is to write the occasional blog post right here – occasional being the operative word.

I’ve done the blogging thing before and eventually got overwhelmed. The self-imposed pressure to keep up my posting frequency led to abandonment. This time I’m setting low expectations from the start while embracing Kleon’s notion that “you want hearts, not eyeballs” (p. 129). It isn’t about how many followers you have but having the right followers – the followers that care about the same things you do. So don’t expect daily, or probably even weekly, posts from me. Right now, I’m more interested in integrating #deepwork in my life, and this website is a tool in my learning process. Like Kleon says, “Don’t think of your website as a self-promotion machine, think of it as a self-invention machine” (p. 67).

Another element in all this is my keen awareness of the importance of sharing. I am a librarian devoted to resource sharing after all. So when I have thoughts to share that can’t be contained in a Facebook post, you’ll find them here. I hope we can share ideas and help one another.

Welcome.