MLA Featured Library Employee — Katie Hopkins

Katie Hopkins, Springfield-Greene County Public Library's Adult Programming Coordinator

Meet our Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Katie Hopkins!

What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?

Katie Hopkins, Springfield-Greene County Library District, Adult Programming Coordinator.  My job is to oversee and support staff with adult program planning across our district.  I head up our Adult Summer Reading Program, Winter Reading Challenge, and annual One Read events.  I wear many other hats too – I serve on our district’s Inclusion Committee and I recently co-wrote a successful grant to make our programs and buildings more accessible to individuals with sensory processing challenges.  I am also one of the conference coordinators for the MLA 2022 Annual Conference in Springfield.

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

Even though I grew up an avid public library user, library work kind of fell into my lap.  In my early 20s my friend suggested I apply for a part time reference job at the library while I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.  I quickly fell in love with the role I was playing in lifelong learning in my own community and 13 years later I’m still at it!

What keeps you coming back every day?

Admittedly, with everything going on in the world this past year and a half, it has been a struggle to come to work every day.  But I consider myself a leader in our district and it is important to me that I keep trying to bring good energy into the workplace because I care about the people I work with.  Programming is a creative outlet for many of our staff and it breaks up the monotony of frontline desk work.  Helping foster staff creativity and energy and reinvigorating their commitment to serving patrons is ultimately what keeps me coming back.

What’s challenging about your work?

Finding a balance between staff ideas, public demand, and administrative concerns is an on-going challenge.  Also, stepping outside of my personal interests and biases to design programming that is relevant to our community is always hard for me.  However, it always pays off when you sense that flow of energy in a program when people are curious and engaged – that moment ultimately drives my work and makes the challenge worth the effort!

Has your work made you either curious, or passionate, or awestruck about something?

Wow, this is a tricky one!  I think something about library work in general that continues to leave me awestruck is the argument that libraries are irrelevant – often from someone standing in front of me IN A LIBRARY.  Anyone who works in a library sees on a daily basis the multitude of ways a library brings value to its community. It’s astounding that people who continue to make this argument think that because a library isn’t useful to them in a particular way, it must not be useful to anyone. It demonstrates to me that while we still have a lot of work to do to combat old stereotypes and spread the word about services, we also have lots of potential to continue finding new and interesting ways to serve our communities.

Who is one of your mentors?

One of my mentors is a photography professor I had in college named Alan Brown.  We still stay in touch through social media. His best piece of advice then, and one I still use today, is “kill your darlings” which means that even if I really feel strongly that a program is a great idea, it has to fit in with the bigger picture.  If not, I have to be willing to let it go for the greater good of my own work and that of the library.  There are always a million great program ideas floating around but it is important to filter your selection down to the ones that are feasible to pull off and will resonate with your patrons.  That can be really tricky but good ideas will still be good ideas further down the road.  A good coordinator keeps track of them and knows when the right time is to bring them to fruition.

What book, author, artist, show, or music are you engaging with this week, either personally or professionally? Persuade us in one or two sentences that we should pick this up, too.

I’ve been watching “The Movies that Made Us” on Netflix this week.  Besides being a comforting dose of nostalgia, these short documentaries demonstrate that the works of art we hold most near and dear to our hearts are frequently a patchwork combination of teamwork, persistence, frustration, seemingly random choices, and a little divine intervention from the universe.  I think there are a lot of lessons to be gleaned from this.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

In the 2005 animated movie Robots there was a character whose motto for running his company was “see a need, fill a need”.  This practice is at the core of my work in designing programming.  Sometimes that need is very specific (like the workshops I designed for parents of children with disabilities) or even a little offbeat (like the program we hosted on cults in America) but if you can pinpoint that need and fill it, your library’s role in your community will be so much richer and the network of patrons you reach will be so much wider.  Don’t neglect your adult programming – it is one of the best ways to demonstrate the library’s value to your community!

 

 

Would you like to nominate someone to be our next Featured Library Employee?  Examples could be:

…a new employee you’d like to introduce

…someone with a unique job or on a unique career path

…an employee you find inspirational

…a coworker whose gifts you wish were more widely known

…someone who’s “an institution” full of interesting stories

…a role that has a new focus or is reaching a new audience

…someone you’d like to make more visible to potential employers

Submit name(s) and contact information, along with place of employment, to Shannon Mawhiney at smawhiney@missouristate.edu.  We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!

MLA 2021 Annual Conference

This year’s MLA conference will be held in person at the Doubletree Hilton in Chesterfield (STL metro) from 9/29-9/30. While it has been shortened from to 2 days, we still have all the activities you’ve come to expect and enjoy and truly hope you’ll join us and have a great experience.

Just to get you a little excited:

For those of you who will be in the area on Tuesday night, the Bohley Trivia Night will be held at the hotel.

On Wednesday afternoon Chris Pryor will give the opening Keynote and the exhibits will open at 4pm with a reception followed by the Awards Ceremony to be held this year in the exhibits hall where everyone can stay and celebrate the best of best in Missouri.

On Thursday there will be a Member Meet and Greet followed by the Annual Meeting followed by a closing reception with Keynote speaker Jarret Krosoczka joining us virtually.

We’ve come through a rough year and while it’s not all over yet, we hope this conference can be time to come together, see old friends and colleagues, make new ones and learn from each other.

We look forward to seeing and learning something from each of you. Register today: http://molibconference.org

Conference @ a Glance Schedule: http://mlaweb.net/ConferenceATAGlance.pdf

Vendor Prospectus and Registration

Nominate your colleagues for the MLA Awards!

Do you have a colleague who ran a terrific PR campaign or a peer who’s new to the profession and deserves recognition, or can you think of a library whose service over the past year has been even more outstanding than the rest? Consider nominating them for the 2021 MLA awards. The process is easy; there are links below to each award’s description and application.

Here are the categories:

Missouri Library of the Year
Outstanding Library Employee (non-MLS)
Outstanding Professional Librarian
Outstanding New Librarian
Community Partnership Award
Public Relations Achievement Award
Virginia G. Young Outstanding Service Award (for a library trustee/board member)
Meritorious Achievement Award (for someone retired or outside the profession)
Missouri Author Award (for an author from Missouri)
MLA Literary Award (for a book about Missouri)

Nominations are due by Friday, June 25. Please let one of us know if you have any questions or ideas – we’d love to hear from you.

Daisy Porter-Reynolds, Committee Chair
Diana Platt, Immediate Past Chair
Grace Jackson-Brown
Meagan Parrett

MLA Featured Library Employee — Peter Neely

Peter Neely, Columbia College

Meet this issue’s Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Peter Neely!

What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?

My name is Peter Neely. I work at Columbia College as the Digital Services Librarian.

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

My interest began when I eventually realized at a young age that libraries provided a chance to engage with my community and share new or unfamiliar methods of acquiring information – and that was too appealing to resist.

What keeps you coming back every day?

Mostly the students, so many are passionate and eager to find that perfect article or are seeking to educate themselves outside of the classroom, it’s hard not to admire their diligence!

What’s challenging about your work?

Working with vendors is honestly the most challenging aspect of my job at the moment.

Has your work made you either curious, or passionate, or awestruck about something?

My work has made me realize how important communication is in any field. It’s important to be clear and transparent to your patrons!

Who is one of your mentors?

This is a hard one to answer. I was particularly close to my grandfather, he taught me patience and compassion while showing what you create and put into the world is more important than what you take from it.

 

Would you like to nominate someone to be our next Featured Library Employee?  Examples could be:

…a new employee you’d like to introduce

…someone with a unique job or on a unique career path

…an employee you find inspirational

…a coworker whose gifts you wish were more widely known

…someone who’s “an institution” full of interesting stories

…a role that has a new focus or is reaching a new audience

…someone you’d like to make more visible to potential employers

Submit name(s) and contact information, along with place of employment, to Shannon Mawhiney at smawhiney@missouristate.edu.  We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!

MLA 2021 Conference Proposals

 

It’s happening! It’s time to call for Conference Proposals for the 2021 MLA Conference. We invite you to submit your proposals for “Charting the Future Together,” the 2021 MLA Annual Conference. The conference will be held September 28th-October 2nd. Currently, the plan is to be in-person at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Chesterfield (St. Louis metro). Discussions about the possibility of a hybrid or virtual conference are ongoing though.

This call is open for all types of program submissions: breakout sessions, table talks, poster sessions, and pre-conferences. This is a great opportunity to share with fellow library folks what you have learned during these unprecedented times. Don’t forget to encourage your colleagues to share their great ideas! The criteria and form for submitting program proposals for the conference are available here.

Proposals are due by May 14th, 2021.

If you have questions regarding the submission process or questions about proposals in general, please feel free to contact us at mlaconference2021@molib.org.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,
Asia Gross
Desiree Schumann
Jennifer Alexander
2021 MLA Conference Co-Coordinators

MLA Featured Library Employee — Geri Godber

Geri Godber

Meet our Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Geri Godber!

What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?

Geri B. Godber; Christian County Library (today is my last day); Executive Director

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

I have a degree in Chemistry, but in my senior year of college I realized I did not like working in the lab. I loved the theory of chemistry, but not the application. I heard about being a Scientific Librarian – doing the literature research for the folks in the lab and that was my goal. However, life took me down the public library road and I have not looked back.

What keeps you coming back every day?

My staff. They are wonderful…plus, knowing we are here to help people.

What’s challenging about your work?

Keeping all the fires stoked, but not allowing anything to boil over! It has been a crazy year with COVID and managing two construction projects. By April, CCL will have four branches in the county! We are very excited to have 4 beautiful libraries for the people of Christian County.

Has your work made you either curious, or passionate, or awestruck about something?

I would say helping veterans, seniors, and individuals with mental illness. They need us most.

Who is one of your mentors?

Without a doubt, Jim Schmidt of Springfield-Greene County Library. He is the best.

What book, author, artist, show, or music are you engaging with this week, either personally or professionally? Persuade us in one or two sentences that we should pick this up, too.

Well, I am moving to Oregon so my time this past month has been quite engaged with watching/ listening to old seasons of The Great British Bake Off or Ink Masters while I sort through and pack all of my belongings. I have a soft spot for the United Kingdom, baking, and tattoos.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

I have accepted a position in Oregon as the Library Director for Tillamook County Library System. My time at CCL has been great with the support of past and present employees, the Board of Trustees, and the support of the folks of Christian County. However, I was widowed a few years ago and it is time for a fresh start. I am from Missouri so it will always be home, but I am looking forward to some new stars in the sky and living on the coast. Thank you to my MLA colleagues, my staff, and Trustees. It has been a great time in MO, but onward I must go!

 

Would you like to nominate someone to be our next Featured Library Employee?  Examples could be:

…a new employee you’d like to introduce

…someone with a unique job or on a unique career path

…an employee you find inspirational

…a coworker whose gifts you wish were more widely known

…someone who’s “an institution” full of interesting stories

…a role that has a new focus or is reaching a new audience

…someone you’d like to make more visible to potential employers

Submit name(s) and contact information, along with place of employment, to Shannon Mawhiney at smawhiney@missouristate.edu.  We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!

MLA Featured Library Employees — Mid-Continent Public Library’s HR Team

Mid-Continent Public Library HR Team

Meet our Featured Library Employees for the Missouri Library Association, the Mid-Continent Public Library’s HR Team!

What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?

Jennifer Ridley, HR Director

Dionne Wheeler, Associate HR Director

Rochelle Farmer, HR Specialist

Courtney Meyer, Employment Specialist

Talishia Robins, Leave and Accommodation Specialist

Bonnie Witt, Wellness Coordinator

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

Bonnie – It’s a funny story how I started working for the library. A friend called me out of the blue and said that she knew of a Wellness Coordinator position that would be a great fit. Honestly, I wasn’t even looking for a job at the time. Turns out that she had been offered the position and turned it down to take a school nurse job. She recommended me and I was hired. So, I guess I was the 2nd choice, but I think I landed right where I was supposed to. That was nearly nine years ago. I am still amazed by the people I work with, both closely and at branches via email (now it’s all via Teams and email). There’s a level of caring here that I’ve not seen at other places. At the end of the day, I really like the people I work with!

Jennifer – My siblings and I like to joke that libraries are our “family business.”  My brother is a public librarian and my sister has been a public and school librarian.  I started at MCPL in Interlibrary Loan in 2003 and an opportunity came up the following year to use my HR experience at the library.  I couldn’t pass it up even though I had no idea where it would lead.

What keeps you coming back every day?

Talishia – Firstly, I work with an amazing team of HR professionals who are some of the most dedicated, committed, and knowledgeable people I have ever worked with. It is extremely refreshing to work with people who have similar work missions and drive and who deeply care to do the right thing for our staff. Though we have designated specialties and different personalities, we truly work as a cohesive unit.  Secondly, working for an organization that genuinely supports its staff and knowing the Senior Leadership Team actively exhibits that effort daily…it starts from the top, down. I am grateful to have found this organization and to be able to contribute a small part to that process.

Courtney – Organizations can’t run and thrive without the people that get up and come to work each day. So, having a chance to change these people’s life by offering them a job or knowing the feeling they must have when they find out they were just promoted is what keeps me coming back each day. Knowing that I have the chance, through our people to make MCPL the best library system in North America is a great feeling!

What’s challenging about your work?

Dionne – One of the biggest challenges we have in our department is balancing all the things we “want” to do with those things we “must” do. We talk about capacity a lot amongst our team, and we have so many great ideas, but carving out the time to plan and execute our ideas is a challenge.

Rochelle – Each employee’s path at MCPL is different, and we want each experience to be a positive one. Whether it’s making sure a new employee receives great training and feels included, communicating to a mid-career employee additional benefits they may not have needed previously, or helping a long-tenured employee move through the steps of retirement, any given day can present unique challenges. Being prepared for this requires staying on top of changing guidance and guidelines to represent and protect the interests of MCPL employees.

Has your work made you either curious, or passionate, or awestruck about something?

Dionne –  I am awestruck by how much the people I work with who are purpose- driven. It gives me great satisfaction to work around people whose values aren’t tied to money and material things. I think it has made me a better person.

Courtney – Working in HR for larger organizations has made me more passionate about streamlining communication and engagement of employees. When you have a diverse workforce, you must diversify your communication and engagement styles to meet individual needs, which can prove challenging. At the library we have multiple generations and people from all backgrounds working alongside each other, we also have people working multiple shifts throughout the day and different levels of the organization getting the same message. In HR a lot of our messages need to get to each person in our organization, and we have to ensure everyone understands. So, finding and creating new innovative ways to communicate and keep our employees engaged in their work is something I am very passionate about.

Who is one of your mentors?

Dionne – I know this sounds corny, but my mother has been my greatest mentor my entire life. The best parts of me come from my mom.

Jennifer – Don Bridgforth, our retired HR Director, invited me to have a seat at the table at every opportunity and let me soak up everything I could.  He always treated me like a collaborator rather than a subordinate.  And, we always found a way to laugh even when things were bleak.  I think about how valuable that camaraderie was when I am leading this team.

What book, author, artist, show, or music are you engaging with this week, either personally or professionally? Persuade us in one or two sentences that we should pick this up, too.

Bonnie – I’ve been listening to Christmas music on the radio, even with all the advertisement interruptions. Growing up, my Mother had all of the Firestone Christmas record albums and she played them all season long. These were the classic songs by Julie Andrews, Barbara Streisand, Andy Williams, and others. So every few songs, I hear one of those classics and I’m happily transported back to a magical holiday time in my life. Those memories come back clearly; the smells, sounds, tastes and the feelings. Music is good for our souls.

Rochelle – Check out Joe Rogan’s podcast. He is a smart and well-read guy who can talk to you about anything from MMA to aliens. He often features guests who are controversial in mainstream media, offering them a platform to dive deep into a variety of topics.

Jennifer – 2020 was redeemed by the triumphant return of Allie Brosh with “Solutions and Other Problems” which I recommend to anyone with mental illness who also embraces silliness to carve a way through the struggle.  Also, I just finished watching “Fleabag” and “Killing Eve.”  I became an instant fan of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s cleverness and dark humor.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Dionne – I tell people all the time that I love my job, and I mean it. It is easy for me to show up every day, and not everyone can say that.

Jennifer – We hear every day that 2020 has been a rough year for all of us, and that includes librarians and the people who support them.   I am grateful to be on this unbelievable team of pros who have spent every day of this year working on improving the harmony between work and life for all MCPL team members.  It has not been easy for anyone, but we are driven by witnessing the important and innovative work of the MCPL team in the communities we serve.

 

Would you like to nominate someone to be our next Featured Library Employee?  Examples could be:

…a new employee you’d like to introduce

…someone with a unique job or on a unique career path

…an employee you find inspirational

…a coworker whose gifts you wish were more widely known

…someone who’s “an institution” full of interesting stories

…a role that has a new focus or is reaching a new audience

…someone you’d like to make more visible to potential employers

Submit name(s) and contact information, along with place of employment, to Shannon Mawhiney at smawhiney@missouristate.edu.  We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!

MLA Featured Library Employee — Tracie Gieselman-France

Meet our Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Tracie Gieselman-France!

What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?

Tracie Gieselman-France, Duane G. Meyer Library at Missouri State University, Archivist

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

I have always loved libraries and reading books (you’d be jealous of all the ice cream cones and personal pizzas I “won” for reading books as a child!) but I hadn’t really thought about working at a library. I originally visited the MSU Archives as a researcher the same semester I was completing an internship at our local history museum and quickly realized that I enjoyed working with archival materials. I jumped at the chance to apply for a position as the Archives Specialist when it became available and have always felt it was pure luck that the Archives are a part of the library on our campus!

What keeps you coming back every day?

It is a combination of my colleagues and the community, the collections, and our researchers. Every day is different and I learn something new every day from my own research, or by assisting a patron. My colleagues and the community are equally important, as we often work together to create exhibits or suggest resources to our researchers, and the collaborations extend out to other libraries and cultural heritage institutions in our region.

What’s challenging about your work?

I think it is important to be creative with how we present research and archival materials to the community and that can be a challenge. COVID has certainly accelerated the need for creative content and different ways to deliver content to our patrons.

Has your work made you either curious, or passionate, or awestruck about something?

I’m passionate about sharing the treasures found in archival materials with our researchers, whether they are college aged, elementary students, or seasoned authors.

I also feel very rewarded when a student experiences the magic of carefully turning the pages of a rare book!

What book, author, artist, show, or music are you engaging with this week, either personally or professionally? Persuade us in one or two sentences that we should pick this up, too.

Professionally, I have been reading through Ozarks Folklore from authors such as Vance Randolph and Fern Nance Shumate/Nancy Nance. Always interesting and entertaining, especially since I am working with a collection related to both authors!

Personal consumption: We watched it a few weeks back, but I definitely recommend watching The Social Dilemma. This is a documentary on Netflix about social media and how it influences society.

I also look at a lot of cookbooks since we are eating at home more often. I have my own collection and look at a lot of websites, but I encourage everyone to check out the cookbooks at your local library too!

For inspiration, I’ve been reading The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. I haven’t committed to the exercises yet, but I like the techniques!

 

Would you like to nominate someone to be our next Featured Library Employee?  Examples could be:

…a new employee you’d like to introduce

…someone with a unique job or on a unique career path

…an employee you find inspirational

…a coworker whose gifts you wish were more widely known

…someone who’s “an institution” full of interesting stories

…a role that has a new focus or is reaching a new audience

…someone you’d like to make more visible to potential employers

Submit name(s) and contact information, along with place of employment, to Shannon Mawhiney at smawhiney@missouristate.edu.  We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!