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Describe a day in the life of a ProQuest librarian.
I have learned a lot of server admin tricks over the years as well as troubleshooting skills for websites in general. I check our support ticket system throughout the day for specific issues reported by our customers. Sometimes the issues take 5 minutes to fix and sometimes they need creative thinking, an implementation plan, scripts, testing and QA, which can take days. A full implementation of AquaBrowser with customizations takes many weeks. Almost all of my contacts are librarians and their requests usually have something to do with MARC records, but most all of my activities are technical and not necessarily directly related to librarianship.

What school did you attend for your Masters? How is your library degree relevant and/or useful in your current position?
I attended the SLIM extension program at Emporia State University. My degree is most relevant when I work with our librarian customers. I tell them that, “I speak LIBRARY,” and I think they find that a relief. I had a terrific class in Reference while in library school. I use the reference interview skills I learned to get to the heart of some very complicated support issues.  

Share something that you love about your job.
I love bibliographic records. I love analyzing them, writing scripts to fix them up, setting up indexing profiles for them, creating customized rules for materials formats and displaying the data within them- exactly as the customer wants in a well-designed AquaBrowser web site.

What inspired you to pursue a career in library and information science?
A number of people nudged me in that direction – my parents with their reverence for books, Buckminster Fuller, Mrs. Stone at the Baldwin Public Library, Sabra (a mentor in college), B. “You can call me ‘Books’” Dalton and Brenda, the librarian who told me about the Emporia extension program. 

What career advice would you give to a current LIS student interested in doing your job?
Make sure you get either a library-related part-time job or internship while you are in library school.  It will shape your career. I had two part-time jobs – one with an OCLC network and another with an ILS vendor. Both were outside the library, but they served libraries. These experiences were invaluable and I have enjoyed the same mission with ProQuest.

What coursework would you recommend?
My school had required courses in Systems Analysis and Repackaging of Information.   These are great tools for the toolbox. My program also had an entrepreneurial bent that helped widen my thinking about what I could do with the MLS degree. Prepare to be a lifelong learner.  

What is the best piece of career advice you ever received?
Keep your options open.

What advice do you have for students or researchers to help them get the most use out of the library?
While virtual visits will be the norm, there is nothing quite like a physical visit to the brick and mortar establishment and a one-on-one with a real librarian.

Comment on the library of the future.
Back in the 60’s, Buckminster Fuller envisioned that every home would have a black box with access to all of the world’s knowledge. Now we have that on our handheld devices. What’s the next step, a chip in the head?

What can you tell us about yourself that we might never guess?
I can groom a standard poodle for a dog show – big hair, hairspray, rubber bands -- the whole nine yards. And, Christopher Guest’s mockumentary, “Best in Show,” is one of my favorite movies.

17 Dec 2013 | Posted by Tara Shepard

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