Thursday, September 22, 2016

Interview Post: Jacob Berg



Jacob Berg

Current job?

Senior Librarian, Foreign Service Institute, United States Department of State, via The LAC Group

How long have you been in the field?

Off and on since 1996, but totally all the way on since 2007.

How Do You Work?

What is your office/workspace like?

I've got a windowless office with some bookshelves, cork boards on two walls, and a sit-stand desk. I try to stand about two-thirds of the time. There's also a table and two other chairs for meetings, and there is almost always chocolate as well as trail mix on hand.

How do you organize your days?
It's a small library, and I know I'm going to be working the reference desk for at least an hour per day, so I try to work around that. For the most part, I try to handle internal library issues in the morning, and external in the afternoon.

What do you spend most of your time doing?
Administrating, usually strategic planning, plotting a library renovation, marketing and outreach, and a bit of collection development.

What is a typical day like for you?
I'm training myself to be more of a morning person, and with enough cold brew coffee I can almost fake it. I get to work at 7:30am and scour social media and library listservs for good ideas to steal. Then I stand, check in with the other staff, check email, and start writing. Documenting workflows, strategic planning, brainstorming outreach... I'm out on the desk for an hour in the middle of the day, then I take lunch, and then I'm back at it, standing, often with collection development, and reaching out to schools and divisions within the Foreign Service Institute to see what they need, suggesting edits and editing the website, and the occasional cataloging. I leave around 4:30.

What are you reading right now?
Shadowshaper, by D.J. Older. Young adult fiction, thriller-horror set in Brooklyn. Authors take note: I am reading this primarily due to Older's excellent twitter presence, @djolder. I also enjoy longform journalism.

What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
I'm not going to declare something the best, but please, document everything. Write it down! I'll credit Becky Yoose, @yo_bj, for this through her use of #writethedocs. Also, this is a good time to mention that for librarians like me that don't have and/or haven't had mentors, peer networks are everything. Find your people, please. They're out there.

What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?
I had no idea how much outreach to the FSI community I'd be doing. I'm not an extrovert or type A, so this has been interesting, to say the least.

Inside the Library Studio

What is your favorite word?
"Piglet." Just say it with me. Hard not to smile, right?

What is your least favorite word?
Cliché, but I am one of those people who really does not like the word "moist." <shudders>

What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
Working at a zoo. Poop aside, being outside, with animals... Cheese-mongering would be fun, too, plus it's another good word.

What profession would you never want to attempt?
There are so many. Acting. Lawyering.

Everything Else

What superpower do you wish you had?
Befitting an introvert, invisibility.

What are you most proud of in your career?
At a previous job I worked with a vendor to build open access into our discovery layer, raising awareness on campus and providing access to resources that would otherwise go unfound. Also, I've been able to take advantage of DC's job market, hiring, and training library staff from a wide array of backgrounds.

If you're willing to share, tell about a mistake you made on the job.
I am forever making mistakes. They happen. They happened. They'll happen again. If you can, please give people space to make mistakes, and to fail. I even have a tag for it on my seldom-updated blog: Specifics are there.

When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
Bemoaning the current state of the world online; gaming with my ten year old; talking about dinosaurs, Star Wars, and Legos with my four year old; petting dogs; gardening and cooking; reading and writing about beer; binge watching TV shows; and rooting in vain for the New York Mets, my favorite squadron.

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Kenny Nero, Jr. (@kennynerojr).

Jake tweets at @jacobsberg and blogs at Beerbrarian. This is the third post he's written for Letters to a Young Librarian. The first was "Doing Research Lets You Justify Why You’re Doing What You’re Doing" and the second was Ethics, Copyright, and Information Literacy,

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