(Photo via the Lansing Star)
Current Position: Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Library System
Education: B.A. in History from Syracuse University; MLS from SUNY Albany
What is the most interesting part of your job?
I love visiting all of our member libraries to see what interesting programs and services they are providing to their communities. I'm constantly amazed at the high quality programs and commitment the library directors and their boards have to making their libraries succeed, often with limited resources and staff.
What has been your biggest professional challenge?
My largest challenge is to make sure our libraries are sustainable financially in order to survive. I feel one of my most important roles as a public library system director is to show the importance of advocacy and making people comfortable explaining why their library is vital to their community and why they need more funding.
What was your background before becoming a librarian?
Professionally, the only job I've ever had was being a librarian. Before I decided on library school, I did some curating work in some museums and thought of getting my Masters in museum studies.
What would you be doing if you weren't a librarian?
I'd love to research and write true crime articles.
What is the most interesting issue in librarianship today?
For me, my first love in librarianship is readers' advisory and I still think it is one of the most interesting aspects of being a public librarian. Librarians tend to panic when someone asks them for a good book to read. But for me, it always opened up an opportunity to have a conversation about different authors, titles and genres with our patrons.
What are you most proud of?
I've been lucky enough to work on some large scale community reads in my previous job at our central library, Tompkins County Public Library. I'm proud that we went from working with just a small handful of community organizations to over 70 for the Cornell/TCPL Community Read. I also am proud that through my work with the MLK Community Build project a few years ago, I got 10,000 copies of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last book out into our community.
What other organizations are you involved with?
Besides library organizations, I'm on the Board of Leadership Tompkins, a leadership program for aspiring or existing community leaders to learn about local issues and leadership skills. It's a program I went through in 2007 and love immensely. I also am the Past President of the Ithaca Downtown Business Women Association and am a public library representative for the TST BOCES School Librarian Consortium.
What advice would you give to a new librarian?
Learn about the community you are serving and remember that you can't wait for the patrons to come to you - you need to go to them also.
What software/web tools do you use regularly?
Lately I've been on a lot of meetings through GoToMeeting.
Favorite social media platform:
Instagram. I follow everything from libraries, to home design, to chefs, to Goats of Anarchy.
Favorite blog or website:
I read a lot of fiction blogs, and a new one I like is crimebythebook.com. I also spend too much time on the New York Times and Daily Mail websites.
What do you do to relax?
Reading Nordic mysteries, baking, and hanging out with my nephews who are four and seven.
What is the most daring thing you've ever done?
The most daring thing I've done professionally is leaving a job I loved. Leaving led me to my current job, which I also love, so even though it was scary, it was the right decision.
What would you like to learn?
I love learning languages, and over the years I've learned French, Spanish, Italian and Russian. I'd like to learn more languages, but I'm not sure which one is next!
Is there anything about you that others would be surprised to know?
Libraries have been a part of my life since I was four years old. I grew up living in the Weller Library in Mohawk, NY. My living room had a door to the non-fiction room. One of my favorite memories is sneaking into the library at night to grab books to read off the shelves. It really was the best place to grow up and I'm sure influenced me to become a librarian.
Thank you Sarah for being our member profile pioneer and congratulations on your appointment as SCRLC Board President!