Have you ever seen a really interesting library position and wondered how the person got there? This series will interview tech librarians to learn more about their journey, how they stay informed about emerging technologies, and tools they can’t live without.
Allow me to introduce Brittney Buckland, Head of Technical Services at Merrimack Public Library in New Hampshire. Below is an excerpt of our interview, the full transcript can be accessed here.
What is your background?
“My undergraduate degree is a BA in the Arts: Art History from the University of New Hampshire (UNH). I finished my MSLIS with a specialization in Library and Information Services in 2013. I completed my Master’s completely online through Drexel University. I recently finished a secondary M.Ed. in Educational Studies through UNH, also completely online.”
What were some of your early library jobs and how did they prepare you for your current position?
Brittney’s first library job was as a Student Library Assistant in an academic setting, where she learned the basics of page duties, as well as performing minor reference work.
“In my current position I still work on the floor so the skills I learned as a Student Library Assistant are still useful to me. I currently spend one night a week and am part of a weekend rotation to work on the Reference desk. I believe those public desk skills come in handy when working with patrons. They also help when I am collaborating with my colleagues when making decisions about the collection and new services we want to provide to our patrons.”
Tell me about the Merrimack Public Library.
“Merrimack Public Library is a mid-sized public library located in New Hampshire. Directly we serve a population of just over 25,000 Merrimack residents, but serve many more as we are part of a twelve library consortium that includes public and academic libraries in the Greater Manchester area of New Hampshire.”
Along with the usual library offerings and New Hampshire local history. “There are a few really cool collections in the works that aren’t quite ready to circulate yet. These include kits for children and teens like Magformers, Snap Circuits, and Ozobots that our teens put together as part of their Summer Reading Program. We’ll also be circulating sandwich board signs to local groups, and are currently working with a local Girl Scout to set up a fun shape baking pan collection.
Starting soon we will be partnering with our local Meals on Wheels group to deliver homebound library services for those that cannot make it to the building.”
What are some of the main responsibilities in your current role?
“Most of my main responsibilities revolve around cataloging and acquisitions. I do all of the original cataloging for the library. I work with the other Department Heads of the library to come up with practical circulating and material processing procedures. I am in charge of the collection development for our audiobook, CD, and DVD/Blu-Ray collections; which includes buying as well as withdrawing the items from the collection when necessary.”
Tell me about libraries 10 years from now- what do they look like and what services do they offer?
“I think libraries will be very interesting places 10 years from now. I love how libraries are evolving from circulating only books to circulating all sorts of special collections. I think it speaks more to serving the library’s community and demonstrates that librarians are in touch with what the community wants and how it’s developing. I think public libraries are already on the way to doing this, but I believe it will be more developed in the future and libraries will look more like community centers.”
What advice would you give a recent MILS grad or current information professional looking to change careers?
“I think it is extremely important for MLIS recent grads, those considering an MLIS, and those looking to make the jump to switching careers into librarianship to realize that the job market is extremely saturated and competitive. I think graduates should also try to get an understanding of what is required to be in each position before they graduate so that they can start with the right foot forward. I wanted to be an academic librarian, but didn’t know that to be tenured I would need a secondary Master’s degree or Ph.D. I also believe you shouldn’t limit yourself. There are all sorts of different libraries out there–public and academic, but also law libraries, medical libraries and so many more.”
How do you stay current on new technology?
“Staying current takes a lot of work. There are journals to read, workshops/webinars to attend, and meetings to attend. One also needs to pay attention to what teachers are interested in so that libraries can follow those educational trends like programming. I try to keep an eye out for webinars that are relevant to my library’s strategic plan and mission and then see how those things could be implemented. Luckily, as part of the consortium my library is a part of there is a committee for technology so we can bounce ideas off each other and show each other the cool new things we’ve found or tried.”
Share technology that you can’t live or do your job without.
Along with OCLC Connexion, LC Authority Files and MARC Standards. ”On Facebook I follow the cataloging group Troublesome Catalogers and Magical Metadata Fairies for both professional posts and some humor. I use Amazon a lot for media purchases. One of my current favorites is the app Workflow on iOS. It lets you program your phone to automate some tasks. It comes with some preset ideas like sending your last photo to your Instagram account, but one of the Technology Librarians in my consortium wrote a program to have this app search our shared catalog from scanning the ISBN on the back of any book!”
Brittney also gives great advice for those frustrated information specialists looking for the right job: “Get involved, stay current, and keep your mind open–you really never know when an opportunity will drop into your lap!”
Thanks to Brittney for kicking off the series and be sure to check out next month’s conversation with Rebecca McGuire, Tech Specialist at Mortenson Center for International Library Programs.