I am an information specialist for a Fortune 500 coatings & specialty chemicals company. Our information centers support our company globally, with a primary focus on our science & technology centers. My areas of research responsibility are coatings/paint, glass, and fiberglass. I always tell people that my job is to support our scientists from their first glimmer of a new idea, all the way through to patenting and commercialization.
How long have you been in the field?
I’ve worked in libraries since I was in high school, starting as a student page. My public library job continued while I was in college, and after undergrad I kind of floundered my way into library school. I finished my degree in 1997, and though my goal was academic reference, I have spent my entire professional career in special (nonprofit or corporate) libraries.
How Do You Work?
What is your office/workspace like?
I split my week between two physical libraries, but in both cases my workspace is integrated into the library. Our company has a “clean desk policy,” so both of them are pretty tidy. They’re very clearly “my” space though – I have a lot of little nerdy knickknacks and I love calendars.
How do you organize your days?
I carry an amazing planner, and I’m queen of to-do lists. I keep a running tally of the searches I need to do, so that my scientists can pop by & see where they are in the queue. I try to make every Wednesday “admin day” and just sit down to crank out all of the administrative stuff I might let slide otherwise. I treat myself to a fancy coffee & a donut Wednesday mornings, and just slog my way through.
What do you spend most of your time doing?
I’d say that the bulk of my time is split between doing literature searches, predominantly looking for patents, and internal document management. We’re the administrators of our electronic laboratory notebook system, and I try to be on hand as much as possible to make that run as smoothly as I can.
What is a typical day like for you?
I’m the early shift at both of my sites, so I turn on the lights a little after seven most mornings. I try to plot out and stick to a weekly to-do list, but have to maintain some flexibility as people drop in with deadlines and emergencies. Since I split my time between two physical libraries it often feels like I have two Mondays every week. I am a firm believer in work/life balance, so I try incredibly hard to be back out the door by four.
What are you reading right now?
Mostly travel guides for Alaska and Vancouver. And maybe a few romance novels.
What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
My dad once told me: “Never ask someone to do something that you’re unwilling to do yourself.”
What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?
I am the introvert to end all introverts, so I’m very surprised at how much I enjoy leading training sessions and teaching. It takes me a bit of time to be comfortable with my audience, and I lean very heavily on self-deprecating humor, but it’s something my boss pushed me out of my comfort zone to do. I enjoy getting to know our scientists through the sessions quite a bit.
Inside the Library Studio
What is your favorite word?
Quagmire. Cornucopia. Plethora.
What is your least favorite word?
Maintenance. I can never spell it on the first try.
What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
On good days I think about intellectual property law, or auditing. On bad days, long distance trucking, or miniature goat farming.
What profession would you never want to attempt?
Anything medical. God bless every single person who’s ever had to put up with me during a blood draw.
What superpower do you wish you had?
Freezing time or teleportation.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Before my dad retired from the military, he arranged for me to go on an educator’s flight in a KC-135 Stratotanker refueling plane. During the descent to the runway, I was able to sit in the cockpit and I noticed our company logo in the corner of the plane’s windshield. I’ve supported our aerospace scientists on some of their innovations, and I was so thrilled to see something that I’d researched in a real world application. Especially since it was something so personal to me. Our company motto is “We Protect and Beautify the World” and in that moment I thought, “yes, yes we do.”
If you're willing to share, tell about a mistake you made on the job.
I’m a big believer in recognition, and one of my favorite things to do each year is host a patent & trade secret luncheon. A few years ago a scientist came into the library and said “What time’s the luncheon today? I’d like the salmon!” and I realized that I’d completely forgotten to invite him. (Thank god for gossip networks...) Everything was fine, the restaurant was accommodating, and no one knew I’d forgotten him but him… but I was horrified. I still am. This event is something I pride myself on doing, something so important to me, and I’d dropped the ball.
When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
Planning our next vacation. Reading, listening to music, hanging out with my husband and our cats. Knitting. Obsessing about hockey. Napping like a champion.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Erin Leach. Amy Wainwright.
Amy tweets at @librarianamy.
Amy tweets at @librarianamy.