From flight attendant to librarian: Q&A with Louise Feldmann, 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 Louise, RUSA Director-at-Large. Not only is she business savvy, but she can deliver a baby at 35,000 feet! Want to chat about all things RUSA with Louise? You can reach her at the email at the end of this post.

Louise Feldmann
Louise Feldmann

Louise Feldmann
Business Librarian
Colorado State University

What are you currently reading or listening to?
Currently, I’m working my way through the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (so excited that a television series based on these novels is in the works!).  I just finished Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.  My reading interests are all over the place.  I love just browsing through our library’s literature collection and discovering gems!

What is the most interesting “reference” question you’ve ever been asked? (reference in quotes to allow for some flexibility in answering the question)
I’m a business librarian, so I get my fair share of “interesting” questions, from worm composting to motorcycle ownership in Pakistan.  I love a good, juicy reference question.  I can’t say I have one question that stands out; they have all been interesting!

Tell us about your current role at your library, and maybe a little bit about your career path, too.
I do the business subject stuff at Colorado State University Libraries – reference, instruction, and collection development.  I’ve been at Colorado State University for eight years.  Prior to coming to Fort Collins, I worked as a substitute adult reference librarian at Mountain View Public Library in California.

Describe a particularly rewarding experience in your library career.
Helping students is the most rewarding part of my job.  A few years ago, I assisted a team of business students with in-depth research on a company for a competition and they won!  They sent me a wonderful thank you letter.  It was great.  Thank you letters from students are fantastic.  I had one student tell me that I was like a rock star in the College of Business.  Brilliant!

Give one fun fact about yourself—can be personal or professional.
I was a flight attendant for 12 years and based in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Honolulu.  I have received training in how to deliver a baby at 35,000 feet!

Any hobbies?
I love to ski and travel.  I dabble in other things such as knitting, yoga, and painting.  Mostly these days, I drive my teen boys around to various activities!

Why did you join RUSA (and/or sections)?
I discovered RUSA when I started my academic librarian career.  I got involved in BRASS and through that discovered RUSA.

How has RUSA helped you in your career?
RUSA has helped me tremendously in my career, particularly via my participation in BRASS.  I’ve learned tons from colleagues across the country.  RUSA has provided invaluable learning and networking opportunities.

What are some of the RUSA activities you’ve participated in?
Most of my RUSA activities have been via BRASS.  I’ve chaired the discussion group and membership committee and served on the education and publication committees.  This past year I chaired the BRASS 25th anniversary party.

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.
Absolutely!  Louise.Feldmann@Colostate.edu; 970-491-4262

Librarian by day, backup for Gorbachev by night: Q&A with Barry Trott

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 Barry, RUSA Ex-Officio member. He’s a lean, mean, guitar/banjo/mandolin/-playing machine! If you’d like to reach Barry and discuss RUSA and/or bluegrass, you may reach him at the email address listed at the end of this post.

Barry Trott
Digital Services Director
Williamsburg (VA) Regional Library
Editor, Reference and User Services Quarterly (RUSQ)

Barry Trott
Barry Trott

What are you currently reading or listening to?
Re-reading Fred Chappell’s Brighten the Corner Where You Are; Listening to John Reischman’s Walk Along John.

What is the most interesting “reference” question you’ve ever been asked? (reference in quotes to allow for some flexibility in answering the question)
For me it is always the next question to come along. One thing I love about reference work in the public library is the wide variety of fascinating questions that come along over the course of a day on the desk. Everything that you read or learn about will at some point be useful to you in responding to a user query.

Tell us about your current role at your library, and maybe a little bit about your career path, too.
I have worked as a reference librarian, readers’ services librarian, and Adult Services Director before coming to my current role. Now, I coordinate library-wide projects dealing with the intersection of people and technology, including social media, library website, digital collections from ebooks to magazines to databases, and digital marketing tools. And I oversee Technical Services. Before going to library school, I worked for 12 years as a musician, and prior to that got my BA in Biology, so a typical reference librarian career.

Describe a particularly rewarding experience in your library career.
Being involved in RUSA has been one of the most rewarding things for me. I have been able to meet and work with librarians from all sort of libraries–public, academic, special, and school–and have learned a lot from all of them. That would not have been possible without RUSA.

Give one fun fact about yourself—can be personal or professional.
I have played music for and shaken hands with Mikhail Gorbachev.

Any hobbies?
Music, woodworking.

Why did you join RUSA (and/or sections)?
To have the chance to meet and work with other librarians who are passionate about what they do.

How has RUSA helped you in your career?
Membership in RUSA has given me great ideas, a place to share concerns and new thoughts on the profession, and introduced me to many folks who I count not only as colleagues but as friends.

What are some of the RUSA activities you’ve participated in?
CODES Readers’ advisory committee, several award committees, CODES Board, RUSA Board, RUSA President, RUSQ Editor, RUSA membership committee.

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.
I am happy to talk to RUSA members, email at btrott@wrl.org

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: www.facebook.com/MakingSenseBizRef

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: caross@umich.edu

 

“Nothing a librarian learns is ever wasted!” Q&A with RUSA Director-at-Large

During the next several weeks we will be highlighting members of RUSA’s Board of Directors. Take a minute to get to know a bit about our fantastic leaders! Interested in contacting Doris Ann? You may reach her at the email address listed below.

Meet Doris Ann Sweet, RUSA Director-at-Large. If her name doesn’t make you smile, this interview surely will! Thanks, Doris Ann, for introducing yourself to the RUSA membership and libraryland at large!

Doris Ann Sweet
Director of Library Services
Assumption College

What are you currently reading or listening to?
I commute 40 miles to work, so I listen to far more audio books than I read print or e-format, and usually, mysteries. Right now I am in the middle of Amanda Kyle Williams’s Stranger in the Room. While waiting in line for the post office in the exhibits at ALA Annual, Soho Press was brought to my attention by a fellow line lingerer, and I came home with a few of Soho’s international crime series titles in print format. I just finished Helene Tursten’s Detective Inspector Huss, which I loved, and am about to start a Peter Lovesey title.

What is the most interesting “reference” question you’ve ever been asked?
Years ago when I worked at the humanities/social science library at a large research university, I was approached late one evening  at the reference desk by a student who said he was doing research on UNIX. During his pause, I was thinking, “Oh, Oh, he probably has to go to the Science/Engineering Library” (several blocks away). Then he added “and how they were perceived in ancient Greece and Rome.” I was very glad I had paused when he did!

Tell us about your current role at your library, and maybe a little bit about your career path, too.
During library school, I fully intended to become a rare book/special collections librarian and took all the related courses I could. However, when I was offered a job as a reference librarian in a large university, I jumped at the chance, because the institution was my alma mater, and I figured that moving to special collections could be a natural career path. However, I loved reference and stuck with it for most of my career, in one context or another. During my first few years in the profession, I thought I would never want to move into management. Again, my attitude altered as I began to realize I might be in a better position to bring about changes if I were a department head. Eventually I made my way to my present position as the director of a small college library with a staff of 14. My job is to mentor and foster creativity in staff, support professional development, manage a budget, advocate for the library on campus, and make sure the library is fully integrated into the campus life and mission. Amazingly enough, that initial rare book/special collections concentration has turned out to be advantageous throughout my career, and especially in my current position. As they say, nothing a librarian learns is ever wasted!

Describe a particularly rewarding experience in your library career.
In a prior position, I was given the assignment by my library director to establish a library internship program for high school students, with emphasis on minorities and first-in- their-families to attend college. The aim of the internships was to introduce this population to the possibility of librarianship as a career. An initial collaboration led to another, and another, and within three years, my college was the recipient of a three-year IMLS grant to develop curriculum for the program and make it available for other libraries to use. Eight other public and academic libraries helped us carry out this project, called MassBLAST, the BLAST part standing for Building Library Staff and Awareness for Tomorrow. The experiences with other libraries and librarians, and with the many high school students who completed internships with our college, are among the highlight memories of my career. A poster of one of our first intern groups, complete with signatures of all of them, is a fabulous reminder of what libraries are all about as I enter my office each day.

Give one fun fact about yourself—can be personal or professional.
I grew up in a small town in northern New Hampshire, with 52 first cousins, most of whom lived in my town or two adjacent towns. Not to mention the second cousins…

Any hobbies?
Hiking, knitting, and listening to bluegrass music.

Why did you join RUSA (and/or sections)?
RUSA was a natural division to join in view of my interest in reference work. MARS became my primary section, because I have always been especially interested in technology and the impact it continually has on how we conceive of and provide reference services. MARS members were very welcoming in my early years of ALA involvement, and I will always value the friendships I have made through MARS activities over the years. Oh, and did I mention the professional knowledge gained?  Huge!

How has RUSA helped you in your career?
I have always been able to bring home valuable information and knowledge from every RUSA event, program, or committee meeting I have attended. Some was accrued from formal programs or discussion groups, some from publications, and a lot from informal discussions with colleagues from all over the country. I have had a chance to exercise leadership, program planning, and writing skills, which beyond the intrinsic values of learning, collaborating, and creating, found their way to my resume. I am sure my RUSA background helped me land in my present, and best-ever, job.

What are some of the RUSA activities you’ve participated in?
I was active in RSS, at one time chairing the Management of Reference Committee, and participating in creating RUSA Occasional Paper No. 25, titled , Get Them Talking: Managing Change Through Case Studies and Case Study Discussion. In MARS, I have chaired the Hot Topics Discussion Group, and worked on several committees before being elected MARS Member-at-Large and then Vice-Chair and Chair. As a RUSA Director-at-Large, I participate in the work of the RUSA Conference Program Coordinating Committee, and have also had the pleasure of representing RUSA as a member of the Emerging Leaders Subcommittee. A new venture, with Alesia McManus, is to lead an ad hoc group in developing a proposal for a RUSA legislative action mechanism and a legislative agenda.

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.
Definitely:   dasweet@assumption.edu, (508) 767-7272