Tiffany Paisley the Teen Liaison and Branch Clerk
Tiffany, teen at heart.
1. Can you tell us about your current position?
I currently am a branch clerk and teen liaison at two small libraries that are part of a larger library district comprised of 14 locations. I have general customer service and circulation duties. Since we are smaller locations, I also get to help with information desk duties and reader’s advisory. Then, there’s the teen bit. I started a teen advisory group at one library and they help plan programs, community service projects, and library displays. We usually have one teen program a month and more if there are special initiatives like Teen Tech Week or the Summer Reading Program. At the other location, we just started a monthly teen and tween book club, which has been a blast. I coordinate teen volunteers, outreach at schools with booktalks and database classes, and plan larger initiatives with our teen services team on the district level. We have such a great team, full of creativity, enthusiasm, and collaboration. We are led by a dynamite librarian who really encourages our ideas and is readily available to help.
2. How did you get into librarianship?
I only worked 15 hours a week shelving books, but I fell in love immediately. I cried my first day because it was such a beautiful place- the building, the people, the books, all of it. Eventually, I became a clerk within about seven months. Our manager noticed we had a significant teen population coming in the library and that we needed to find ways to better serve them. Either I acted like a teen, or she noticed that I had a good relationship with the ones that came in, and she asked me to spearhead a teen advisory board— that was the fall of 2008. My manager has been a great mentor, encouraging me to pursue a career in librarianship. I finish my BA in English writing this semester and plan to go to library school next spring.
Since I am still in school, I try to find connections to librarianship and professional development with my undergrad coursework. For my honors project this semester, I am working on building a Wikipedia entry, a website, a blog, and utilizing my research skills and social networking sites to create content about my grandfather, an amazing artist and professor who started the art department at the University of Maine. My grandmother was also the special collections librarian there and I often feel her nudge as I walk along this path to become the person I was meant to be. I hope to do a project on her work when I am in library school. I love life, I love doing what I do, and feel so grateful that I have this opportunity.
4. What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of the field?
I think my favorite part is when people go out of their way to acknowledge what we do. Recently, our teen group threw a surprise party for staff telling us how important we had made the library for them. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Working with a difficult patron can sometimes be draining, I joke that when I tended bar, drunk customers were better behaved. But, for every grouch, there are probably 50 who are kind and appreciative. I have to remember that.
5. What is your advice for readers interested in librarianship?
I think one of the biggest lessons I have learned is not to be afraid to try something new and if doesn’t work at first, keep at it, or try something else. Do not be afraid if something doesn’t work, that is how we learn. And, if someone tells you, “That won’t work,” do not listen to them. Find a way to get into a library, even if it is as a volunteer or in a position that you may feel over-qualified to do. And, never say, “That’s not my job.” Do whatever it takes to show your passion and willingness to work hard. Wow, that last bit sounded like my parents talking, maybe I am getting old. Nah, I don’t think so, I will forever be a teen.
Tiffany blogs at her new tumblr, It Ain’t Your Grandma’s Library Anymore. When she’s not at the library or school, she’s working through her new Battlestar Galactica obsession.