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Maria Collins, head of acquisitions and discovery at North Carolina State University’s Hunt Library, has made substantial contributions to the field of serials librarianship. She has been a prolific contributor to the scholarship in this field with numerous publications and presentations on electronic resource management, the Open Access movement and changing workflows. She served as special section editor for Serials Librarian and has served as the editor-in-chief of Serials Review since 2013.
Maria currently serves on the NASIG Executive Board and has been an active leader for the North Carolina Serials Conference, the Electronic Resources and Libraries Conference, and the American Library Association's (ALA) Association for Library Collections and Technical Services. Collins is currently contributing to the Global Open Knowledgebase (GOKb) project. This project is building an openly available knowledgebase of metadata that describes the electronic resources that will support libraries’ efforts to manage collections and support access.
Congratulations on receiving the Ulrich’s Serials Librarianship Award! How do you feel about receiving this honor?
I’m very excited to be recognized by my peers. Serials librarianship is my first “library love,” and it’s rewarding to be acknowledged for giving back to the community. I’m also honored to be sharing this award with Becky Culbertson, who has been such a cornerstone for the serials cataloging community.
In your opinion, what is one of the most significant contributions you have made to serials librarianship?
My most visible contributions are probably my writing and research efforts including my service as a column editor for the “Electronic Journal Forum,” special section editor for Serials Librarian, and current role as editor-in-chief for Serials Review. However, I’ve always valued creating affordable continuing education opportunities for other serialists like at Mississippi State, I worked to create an annual e-journal workshop for the Southeast region, which has evolved into a seminar series that continues today. I’ve also supported various organizations such as ER&L, ALA, NASIG, and NC Serials to create continuing education opportunities.
Could you share an experience you have had collaborating between the serials community and the larger library profession?
Since 2005, when I started at NCSU, I have worked on scoping out the functionality of E-Matrix, a local electronic resource management system. The knowledge gained from managing this project has turned out to be integral to my work as a subject matter expert for both projects, the Kuali OLE and GOKb (Global Open Knowledgebase). From conceptual frameworks like FRBR to tips and tricks for working with various stakeholders on a project, my local experience has proved useful for working with such large-scale projects.
What inspired you to pursue a career in library and information science?
Actually, when I first began work in libraries as an undergraduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill, I remember thinking that librarianship was not the career for me. However, after teaching high school, I had a change of heart! I decided to go back to school to pursue my MLS. I had a graduate assistantship doing serials work for the library science library and realized I loved that kind of work. Plus, it seemed that other people were scared off by serials, so I figured that I wouldn’t have any problems getting a job!
What advice do you have for students to help them get the most use out of the library?
Ask the library staff a lot of questions and figure out what the library has to offer early on. I also think that working at a library is a great way to learn how to get the most out of them.
What do you find most exciting about the future of library and information work?
The library world has often been a silo of the information economy and I think that projects like GOKb and initiatives in open and linked data – these things are going to un-silo our world. I believe that information services provided by librarians will cross-walk all industries and become an integral part of how people find and consume information wherever they are. Within the next 25 years, it’s reasonable to believe that library services will be unrecognizable as they currently are, which is both exciting a little scary, and full of opportunity.
What do you see as the main issues facing librarians and library staff today?
From an academic, technical services perspective, technical service operations are being downsized across the country and much of that work is now automated or outsourced. The work that remains involves managing complex problems or exceptions and the staff needs additional training to respond to this kind of work, which is less about production and more about trouble shooting. Given the variety of initiatives occurring in the schema.org and linked data arenas, technical service staff needs to re-purpose their skill sets for these new tasks. This means organization change, which often requires political leadership and savvy marketing in some library environments.
What career advice would you give to an LIS student interested in your career?
Create synergy around who you are as a professional. If you have a problem, call people, write about it, network, solve your problems in a collective way. Give back to the community and you’ll soon find that you have an instantaneous support network.
What is the best piece of career advice you ever received?
Follow your heart and do what makes you happy, and not just what is monetarily successful. Have a passion for what you do and don’t ignore personal relationships. Serendipitous opportunity always follows those who are sincere about what they do and who connect to their work as well as other people on a deeper level.
Finally, what can you tell us about yourself that we might never guess?
Well, let’s see… I have a twin sister and I think this has dramatically shaped how I interact with people. I love to engage people and co-think through problems. In most cases, two heads are definitely better than one.