Larissa is a circulation aide at Belgrade Community Library in Belgrade, MT serving a population of just under 125,000. Larissa has been a member of ACL since 2019.
Describe yourself using a book title: I don’t feel I have happened upon a title I think describes me. Here are a few that hit some right places: A Pot of Tea (I think most things can be fixed with a cup of tea and it is unusual to find me without one), The Book Jumper (I jump into books and have a hard time finding my way out without finishing the book first), The Pokey Little Puppy (I don’t like being early most of the time–on time is fine, just not early), The Accidental Apprentice (I know it is God’s perfect planning, but so often I seem to fall into things accidentally).
What’s the best thing about being a librarian? I think this answer varies some by what kind of librarian you are. My answer from working in an academic library is the impact you have on how students think. I miss the theological conversations, playing devil’s advocate, and the lightbulb moments when something finally makes sense. I enjoyed watching students improve in their research and writing skills, but more importantly watched them grow in their faith and knowledge of Jesus and the Bible; being even a small part of that was exciting.
As a public librarian I love helping people find the right book–something that will keep them reading. I love being a part of a community resource; for information, entertainment, health, technology, and so much more. I find the challenge of creating a space that is welcoming for everyone and holds to intellectual freedom fascinating and invigorating.
As a church librarian I like offering a place for attenders to find resources to dive deeper into passages, prepare to teach, research a class assignment, study for fun, or just find a good book for their family. Also, it is so fun to watch families grow.
As an introvert, libraries are great! I can interact with people and have conversations, but also get away from people and catalog or work on ILLs. I find libraries a great place where, to an extent, I can choose how much I am around people and how much I interact with them. Librarianship has been a near perfect fit for me.
What are you currently reading? Like many librarians I usually have a list a mile long. I just finished The Peal Hunter by Miya T. Beck and Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree. Next on my list, in no particular order, are The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat, The Lonely Hearts Book Club by Lucy Gilmore, and Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh.
Describe ACL in three words: Encouraging, Supportive, and a good Resource
How do you as a public librarian contribute to your community? As a public librarian I contribute to the whole community. The library is one of the last places people of all ages can come for free. I curate our DVD collection to meet the visual entertainment and learning desires of my community. I bring in resources for patrons we don’t have through ILL: some for fun, some for homeschooling, some for personal research. I occasionally help with programming ideas: houseplant swap, adult lego competitions, or whatever else might interest our community. I am there to answer questions, like how to forward an email; or to help someone find an answer to their questions, where are things on, etc; and I do reader’s advisory, what is a good book/series.
I began my career as a librarian…when I was a small child. My mother ran our church library which started in a closet and is now a beautiful, large room with many picture books, biographies, adult Christian fiction, theological study books, practical Christian living books, and more! It has grown so much, and is a thriving part of our church. I started helping around age 9 or 10 by stamping the books with their due date. Yet, as many children, I didn’t want to be like my parents. So, I didn’t set out to be a librarian instead I wanted to be an archaeologist. However, after I graduated from college I ended up volunteering at a library and I loved it; I was offered a job there about 6 months later which I took. Turns out I love being a librarian, and I am like my parents! I worked at the Montana Bible College Library for a little over 6 years, then started my master’s degree and ended up transitioning to a public library. I finished my MLIS last December and have been at Belgrade Community Library for just over 2 years.
What do you value about ACL? ACL was a great resource when I got thrown in the deep end with a sudden shift to interim library director. I was able to gather so much helpful information on Populi when my former library looked at switching over. It was also a huge source of encouragement through COVID and all the shifting policies and mandates. The online 2020 conference was especially helpful for where I was at the time. While much of ACL doesn’t apply as well to public librarians, it is still nice to see others who share similar viewpoints in the field.
How were you introduced to ACL? I was introduced to ACL through a former library director, Jessica Carlson, of Gail Horton Library at Montana Bible College.
How are you or have you been involved in ACL? Most of my involvement is in the background lurking on the listserv. I did attend an ELP virtual coffee time, and the 2020 conference. I need to look more into the Mentorship program–I think that is one of my favorite aspects of ACL that I haven’t had time to explore yet.
Do you have any specific interests in the library world? I enjoy most aspects. Probably the most fun parts of my current job are cataloging and collection development. Switching from an academic library to a public library shifted my interests.