Tiffany is an ILL & Technology Librarian at Southwestern Assemblies of God University (FTE: 1775) in Waxahachie, TX. She has been a member of ACL for 3 years.
Describe yourself using a book title: It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini.
What’s the best thing about being a librarian? The best thing about being a librarian is the sense of purpose that comes from doing work that contributes so directly to bettering the world. No matter what the specific task, we work as a part of a team that curates, organizes, and provides access to information, and information is what drives progress. There is no such thing as a “small” task in a library: When you re-shelve books, when you refill staplers, when you catalog new books, when you write reports, when you answer reference questions, you can take pride in knowing you’re helping make the library work.
What are you currently reading? The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It by Peter Enns.
Describe ACL in three words: Collaboration / Community / Christ
How have you, as an academic librarian, contributed to your campus? For several years now I have served as our library liaison to the campus IT department. This liaison status allowed me to receive IT training in handling some higher level technologies than university staff are typically given. I am oftentimes able to solve common library problems in a matter of seconds, rather than having to submit an IT work order and wait for a tech to arrive. This has led to fewer students leaving the library frustrated, which is always a win to anyone in customer service. Additionally, anytime I do have to submit an IT work order, it is automatically given a higher priority because IT knows it must be a serious problem if I was unable to solve it on my own.
I single-handedly pioneered the implementation of our first discovery service (OCLC WorldCat Discovery), making the resources in which we invest so much time and money are more easily available to our students, staff, and faculty. Since this time, we have seen a 600% increase in one of our lesser-known databases—all because students can now find that information through the discovery service. Since implementation, I have gone on to be a member of the OCLC WorldCat Discovery User Advisory Group and an OCLC Member Forum panelist.
One of the uses of WorldCat Discovery about which we have been the most excited is the ability to search the TREN database using the Discovery interface. However, we quickly ran into a problem: The metadata collection provided by TREN (which is what generates the “Access Online” links in Discovery) was lacking multiple thousands of documents. This realization led to the undertaking of a project to manually create the metadata files needed to provide access to those other documents. So far, I’ve added about 2,400 documents, with several more thousand to go. It is definitely a work in progress and a time-consuming project, but each document to which I can provide access is one more possible document our students might need critically. I’m looking forward to the day when all of the TREN documents are full accessible through Discovery.
My university has seven core values, which include “Spiritual Formation” and “Community and Personal Wellness.” While here in the library we tend to think of how we support the core value of “Academic Excellence,” I love that I also get to speak into students’ lives about spiritual formation and personal wellness. There are some days when I don’t get much “library” work done, but spend large chunks of time pouring into students. When students stop at my desk and tell me they’re thinking of dropping out because they think they’re not smart enough for college, in that moment I get the humbling privilege of reminding them of their calling, their dreams, and their achievements. In that moment, I get to do “God work“ and in so doing I contribute to that student’s spiritual refreshment and personal renewal. Is there any work more important than that?
I began my career as a librarian . . . as an 18-year-old college freshman, though I did not realize that at the time. I worked in the library at Southwestern Assemblies of God University throughout my entire undergraduate degree, working my way from a work study position to eventually holding a supervisory position among other student workers. By the time I graduated, I was already doing paraprofessional work for the library. I may have applied to the library on a whim, but over those four years I fell in love with the library. I fell in love with turning the wheels of the library. Believe it or not, I fell in love with the satisfaction of knowing my assigned section of stacks were properly shelved and in order. The library became my home.
One thing I wish I had known as a beginning librarian . . .One week before my undergraduate graduation, my library director, Eugene Holder, called me into his office and offered me a library associate position if I would immediately start working toward my Master of Library Science. I said yes and began the transition from student to staff.
Since that day in Eugene’s office, I have completed my MLS and moved into a full librarian position, in charge of interlibrary loan and technology. I don’t spend as much time in the stacks these days, but I still love the work I do. There is a certain joy found when libraries in Germany, Texas, and South Africa collaborate to get resources into people’s hands through ILL. There is satisfaction in databases and other electronic resources humming along without a hitch after spending hours troubleshooting problem after problem. There is pride in seeing time poured into the minutia of anesthetics turn into beautiful library newsletters. There is pleasure in seeing an original full MARC record for an ebook. I may have once dreamed of being a missionary or a high school English teacher, but I’m here to stay and wouldn’t have it any other way.
What do you value about ACL? I value the collaboration fostered among similar libraries. Other library associations represent either such a large number of libraries or such a diverse type of libraries that collaboration can be difficult. For example, I recently attended a conference for another association and sat through every session thinking, “None of the things you’re talking about applies to my library.” In ACL, not only are we bonded by our faith in Christ, but also, in many instances, our library size. While certainly not all the libraries represented by ACL are the same size, I see a high participation in listserv discussion from small libraries. Small libraries have unique challenges, and it is so nice to have a place where even the smallest has a voice and can find help.
The ACL listserv is invaluable to me. I look forward to seeing unread messages in my “ACL” folder. The discussions are always interesting and challenging, and, more often than not, useful. I usually have a standing list of resources pointed out in the listserv that need to be added to our website; as soon as I post all of them, the list starts filling up again right away. The ability to easily reach out to so much available wisdom and experience is invaluable.
How were you introduced to ACL? The other librarians at my library have always been ACL members, so ACL was brought up to me very quickly upon being hired. Joining ACL was a no-brainer for me, and I’m glad I did.
How are you or have you been involved in ACL? I participate regularly on the listserv and the ACL ILL group. I have also written a book review for The Christian Librarian.
Do you have any specific interests in the library world? While I have a definite affinity for technology, my great passion is process enhancement. I love nothing more than learning about the software and services to which we already have access and finding either a previously-unknown service or a way to enhance a process. Every library I’ve encountered wishes they had more money and more librarians. While I can’t give my library those things, I *can* find ways we can wring more out of the services we’ve already paid for and help our existing librarians find ways to be more efficient.