Katie Needs - Community Manager at Gidsy
Katie’s work in librarianship has taken her on adventures abroad.
1. Can you tell us about your current position?
I’m working as the Community Manager for a great startup called Gidsy in Berlin, Germany. Gidsy is, basically, a place online where people can explore, book and organize unique things to do, all over the world. As Community Manager, I handle all sorts of things, from customer support to creating and curating content for our social media channels, to coming up with fun events and programs for community engagement and outreach. It’s a lot of talking and connecting with people, which is amazing.
2. How did you get into librarianship?
I got my bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Toronto, and part way through the degree I realized I didn’t want to become a teacher. I loved (and still love) teaching, but going through all the necessary steps to becoming a real life teacher didn’t fit for me. A professor once suggested to me, “Katie, why don’t you just be a music librarian?” I didn’t even really know that was a thing - my answer was, “You can BE a music librarian, for a JOB?!” As soon as I did a little research, that was that - everything clicked into place.
3. What work training and education did you have to prepare you for your career?
I did my Masters of Information at the University of Toronto’s iSchool, and I really loved it. I focused on LIS and Archives & Records Management, and took as many different classes as I could, across the board. I also volunteered and got involved with Librarians Without Borders, which was amazing. We travelled to Guatemala together and helped set up the library at the Miguel Asturias Academy in Xela.
As for work, I was lucky enough to find jobs in my field almost as soon as I started studying. I helped create a digital repository of academic papers for some professors, was a volunteer-turned “odd jobber”-turned archivist at the Canadian Music Centre, rocked the circulation desk at the music library, schlepped very old books up and down elevators, and had a summer job as an archival assistant dealing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra collection at the City of Toronto archives. I kept very busy on purpose.
My path towards community management started when I was selected as a “Fellow” for the awesome SoundCloud, here in Berlin. I fell in love with community management, and knew that my favourite parts of librarianship (outreach, reference, community engagement, etc…) would be easy to apply to this type of work - librarians are the ultimate community managers, after all.
4. What are your favorite and least favorite aspects about the field?
- advocacy & outreach
- community engagement and building
- reference work (It’s like a treasure hunt sometimes!)
- knowledge management
- finding treasures in the stacks is always a joy
- how much the field is changing, and how (generally) encouraging the library community is for us all to evolve, adapt and grow as community leaders.
Least favourite aspects:
- the constant struggle for funding
- cataloging, unfortunately
The best part about community management, for me, is that I spend the majority of my time working on the favourite parts.
5. What is your advice for readers interested in librarianship?
Be open to new things, read a lot about what’s going on, get involved with volunteer organizations and professional associations, learn about as many different sides to the “information” profession as you can - don’t box yourself in!
Katie cooks, bakes, and writes over at Adventures in Actuality.