Never read Harry Potter and other confessions from RUSA Director-at-Large

Over the next several weeks we will be highlighting members of RUSA’s Board of Directors. Take a minute and get to know our fantastic leaders!

Meet Celia,  RUSA Director-at-Large.  She’s a fun, business-loving, Michigander librarian with lots to share! Want to connect with Celia? You may reach her at her email address listed at the end of this post.

Celia Ross
Business Reference Librarian
University of Michigan
Ross School of Business

Celia Ross
Celia Ross

What are you currently reading or listening to?
I’m kind of addicted to mysteries and I tend to have at least one each of audio and print book going at a time.  I just started listening to The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (recently revealed to be a pen name of J. K. Rowling [by the way, I live in constant fear that my librarian license will be revoked as I have never read any of the Harry Potter series–oops, did I just admit that in front of all of ALA?!]) and I just finished a great French noir debut called Summertime, All The Cats Are Bored by Philippe Georget as well as Where’d you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.  Non-mystery audiobooks I have listened to relatively recently include Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed and Rob Lowe’s memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends (glad I went with the audiobook here as Lowe does the narrating himself–so good!).

What is the most interesting “reference” question you’ve ever been asked? (reference in quotes to allow for some flexibility in answering the questions) I once helped a student asking for information on how many schools there were in Chicago.  This was before readily-available data online, so I walked him over to the Education reference area, discussing how we might approach the question and how he would need to define what he meant by schools–did he want to include colleges & universities?  Public schools only?  Private schools?  He smiled and nodded for a while and we were getting some good leads on potential sources of school data when he said, “Actually, I asked ‘How many *squirrels* are in Chicago?”  I think we ended up identifying some animal-related groups in Chicago and discussed how he might need to get some estimates and then extrapolate.

Tell us about your current role at your library, and maybe a little bit about your career path, too.
I am lucky to be able to do what I love to do, which is to help connect people to the information they’re looking for and to sometimes teach them a research trick or two along the way.  I never thought I’d end up as a business reference specialist, but somehow here I am.  I work mostly with MBA students, but also with undergrads and faculty.  The topics tend to be business-focused, but the range of what constitutes “business” varies widely and wildly.  From food trucks to geothermal furnaces to cardiac stents to green consumers to mouth guards to smartphone apps and everything in  between, it’s always something new.

Describe a particularly rewarding experience in your library career.
Being elected Chair of BRASS was an honor.  I have met so many great people through BRASS and it’s a fantastic group to be involved with.  As a Past Chair of BRASS, and Past Past Chair, etc., as the years progress, you get appointed automatically to chair other BRASS committees (Nominating, Vendor Relations, some other ones that I’m forgetting), so we joke that we should get BRASS 4LIFE tattooed on our knuckles as part of our Chair initiation.

Give one fun fact about yourself—can be personal or professional.
I used to work at an all-boys summer camp in New Hampshire.  I started out in the kitchen but one summer they needed someone to take over the leatherworking shack–a former camper showed me how to bevel and stamp and for a brief while I was known as “the Leather Lady.”

Any hobbies?
Running, chia-pet collecting, kid-wrangling (I have two daughters, ages 5 and 2.5).

Why did you join RUSA (and/or sections)?
RUSA was initially my gateway to BRASS and I joined to expand my network of colleagues and to find a way to get involved with ALA.

How has RUSA helped you in your career?
It was through RUSA that I found my ALA home in BRASS.  RUSA also gave me the opportunity to turn what I used to run as a two-hour face-to-face workshop into a 4-week online course called Business Reference 101.  This, in turn, inspired and became the foundation for my ALA Editions-published Making Sense of Business Reference book which I *finally* finished last fall.  BizRef 101 is in its seventh or eighth year now (I’ve lost track) and here’s a shameless plug for Making Sense:

What are some of the RUSA activities you’ve participated in?
Lots and lots of BRASS stuff, RUSA Board, RUSA Membership Reception, RUSA Online Professional Development.

If you’re open to having RUSA members connecting with you directly, provide an e-mail address and/or phone number where they can reach you.
Sure–I’m happy to chat about RUSA with anyone.  Email is best:


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