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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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.