Meet our most recent Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Julia Wilbers!
- What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?
My name is Julia Wilbers and I’m a Reference Librarian at St. Charles Community College.
- What originally got you interested in working at a library?
I resisted the call for a long time! My exposure to libraries came from having a mother who was a Children’s Librarian. I volunteered at the public library in high school, worked at the science library all four years as an undergraduate at Miami University… I just couldn’t get away. After a brief stint in book publishing it finally hit me that what I was most passionate about was promoting literacy and encouraging people to see how fun it is do research. Libraries were where I belonged.
- What keeps you coming back every day?
The first thing I’d have to say is my co-workers, I work with some amazing people in my library. The very close second would be the fact that I get to spend my time helping students. I loved being in school but I didn’t really appreciate all that the library had to offer until long after my undergraduate career was over. I want to help our students avoid that delay in appreciation so I go out of my way to engage with them and try to alleviate any library anxiety. Plus, I love doing collection development.
- What’s challenging about your work?
I think what’s most challenging about my work is needing to regularly remind myself that the stress a lot of students bring to reference interactions isn’t directed toward me. It’s easy to internalize stressful interactions because all you want to do is help. If the student is working on a tight deadline and it just seems like things aren’t working for them they can easily (and understandably) get frustrated and occasionally that frustration ends up coming your way. As a librarian my focus is helping the patron in front of me and it’s hard to feel like you can’t meet them at their point of need because of things beyond your control.
- Has your work made you either curious, or passionate, or awestruck about something?
There are so many things! I’m all about encouraging students to embrace leisure reading. When someone comes in and asks for a book recommendation I think my heart grows three sizes. Any Readers Advisory service I can offer gets me incredibly excited. Since I work at a community college our student population is a diverse one with people from many walks of life. I’m in awe of those students I see balancing work, family, and school with such focus and dedication. I’m also fortunate enough to be the library liaison for our Education department and that gives me the opportunity to stay on top of picture books and children’s publishing. I’m so in love with the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement and I appreciate children’s literature in a way I didn’t before starting this job. I could go on and on…
- Who is one of your mentors?
This is a hard one to answer because I feel like there are so many people who have influenced the way I approach librarianship. She might not realize she’s been a mentor to me but I’d say Carol Tilley, one of my professors from the iSchool at Illinois. She is so passionate about her work and she is so intelligent, friendly, and supportive… The way Carol approaches librarianship helped show me how to curate my interests within my profession. Just because my job title says one thing doesn’t mean I’m limited to that. Pursuing what I’m passionate about through the lens of librarianship only serves to make me a better resource to my patrons.
And I have to add my cohort of reference librarians at SCC. I work with some amazing women, all of whom have helped me grow as a librarian. Seeing the way Ying Li, Theresa Flett, and Kelly Mitchell interact with patrons, prepare for classes, work with faculty, consistently stay student-focused… it motivates me to do the best I can so I can live up to their standards.
- 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 just finished Anne Fadiman’s memoir, The Wine Lover’s Daughter, and it was amazing! Her father, Clifton Fadiman, was an intellectual virtuoso who undoubtedly had an influence on your life you just might not be aware of (Cricket magazine, anyone?). Her memoir was so beautifully done and it has led me to explore her father’s work… what better testament to a book than the fact that it makes you excited to learn more?!
- Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Just the fact that I’m honored to have been chosen as this month’s featured library employee! It was such a pleasant surprise! AND that I’d highly recommend Alexandra Gallin-Parisi’s article, “An Academic Librarian-Mother in Six Stories,” in In the Library with the Lead Pipe. I met her at The Collective conference, fell in love with her personality, and then saw my friend-crush grow after reading this piece. Anyone can appreciate it, but librarian-mothers (especially of young children) will find themselves especially engrossed.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!