Thursday, January 21, 2016

Interview Post: Baharak Yousefi



Baharak Yousefi

Current job?
Head, Library Communications at Simon Fraser University

How long have you been in the field?

8 years.

How Do You Work?

What is your office/workspace like?

Things about my office that make me happy are: a large wall-mounted laser-cut Arundhati Roy quote, my standing desk, and the Brutalist architecture of Arthur Erickson who designed SFU’s Bennett Library, where my office is located.

How do you organize your days?
I use my university’s officially sanctioned e-calendaring system, but cannot function without my Moleskine weekly notebook calendar. Pen and paper to-do lists forever!

What do you spend most of your time doing?
Meetings and emails.

What is a typical day like for you?
I am currently in a transition period from my previous role as the head of one of our branch libraries to a newly created communications position. Currently, my days are all about figuring out what the work should look like in the first year. I am also in the process of organizing the 2016 Gender and Sexuality in Information Studies Colloquium with Emily Drabinski and Tara Robertson, and editing The Feminists Among Us: Resistance and Advocacy in Library Leadership with Shirley Lew. Spending time and energy in critical librarianship helps me make sense of my work.

What are you reading right now?
Reading Fingersmith by Sarah Waters and re-reading The Extreme Centre: A Warning by Tariq Ali. Up next is The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.

What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
“Say what you really think. Don’t try to guess what people want to hear. You won’t get it right and it will be exhausting.” This advice was given to me by one of my first managers about answering interview questions, but it has informed much of my practice.

What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?
Pondering and not quite knowing what to do about our profession’s “diversity problem” especially with regards to race, ethnicity, and class. It’s not accurate to say I didn’t expect it at all, but it’s been surprising and tiresome to discover its ubiquity.

Inside the Library Studio

What is your favorite word?

What is your least favorite word?

What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
I sold books for a decade before going to library school and still dream about running my own bookshop. Cheesemonger and winemaker are also high on the list.

What profession would you never want to attempt?

Everything Else

What superpower do you wish you had?
Cat whisperer.

What are you most proud of in your career?
Relationships built and maintained across the many jobs, libraries, and projects. 

If you're willing to share, tell about a mistake you made on the job.
Committing acts of impatience is a mistake I’ve made and continue to make. What this can end up looking like is getting started on a project without a comprehensive consultation or a fully realized plan.

When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
Wandering around Vancouver’s West End and Stanley Park, engaged in eating and drinking related activities, reading, procrastinating.

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Annette DeFaveri

Baharak Yousefi is on Twitter as @BaharakY.

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