Thursday, July 30, 2015

Interview: Megan Brooks

Editor’s Note: The whole idea of interview posts came from Megan Brooks, so I asked her be next. I’m happy to say she agreed.

Megan's Office

Megan Brooks

Current job?
Director of Research Services at Wellesley College

How long have you been in the field?
19.5 years! Eeek!

How Do You Work?

What is your office/workspace like?
It's well-organized, with little on my desks, and it has great natural light. My laptop and monitor are on stands so I have dual monitors, and I have an external keyboard and mouse. I have a large whiteboard on the wall behind me and a large bulletin board behind my monitor that is covered in postcards, letterpress prints, and greeting cards.

How do you organize your days?
I live and die by my Google calendars (personal and work). When I eat breakfast each morning at home, I check my calendar to see what's on tap for the day.

What do you spend most of your time doing?
As a manager, I spend a lot of time working with the staff on my team and with my manager colleagues to help get us all where we need to go. I also work the service desk, teach library instruction classes, help students and faculty with research consultations, and go to a lot of meetings.

What is a typical day like for you?
Let's take Tuesdays as an example: I have 4 half-hour long staff meetings, I work a 2-hour service desk shift, and I might meet with students or faculty for research consultations or teach/prep for a class. In the summer I am working on projects, usually related to the web.

What are you reading right now?
I just got back from vacation where I devoured a ton of fiction: Rainbow Rowell's first novel, Attachments, Susan Juby's The Truth Commission, Amy Bloom's Lucky Us, Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven, and the entire “Divergent” series. Professionally I'm making my way through Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction and The Sketchnote Handbook. 

What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
From my dad (applies to life and work): If you can't find the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?

What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?
Today I helped move materials that got wet when an air conditioner compressor unit decided to spew liquid into spaces where some of our collections are housed. That was fun and exciting and new. (Fortunately, everything seems like it'll be able to be saved. Our conservator is the BEST.) I also never thought I'd be a manager. As a newer librarian I firmly declared that I'd never do such a thing! Until I did and realized I liked it.

Inside the Library Studio

What is your favorite word?
Legume. It's just a funny word to say.

What is your least favorite word?
Cuddle Duds. Very long story involving a childhood spent in cold Minnesota. *shudders*

What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
Bass player in a rock band. Or a professional athlete.

What profession would you never want to attempt?
Emergency room staff (doctor, nurse, orderly, etc.)

Everything Else

What superpower do you wish you had?
Instant healing from injuries. 

What are you most proud of in your career?
I'm proud of the fact that I've made a positive difference in the lives of people - both in the immediate moment and in the longer-term, for faculty and students, with colleagues inside and outside my organization.

If you're willing to share, tell about a mistake you made on the job.
Several years ago we migrated the entire college site to Drupal. I was on the team, and so I was (and still am) an admin in the system. I changed the background of the entire college website to a garish red and put chunks of content in places where they shouldn't be. Most of these mistakes were easily fixed, but my take-away is that a little power can be a very dangerous thing, so it's always best to fess up quickly when you're the one who effed up.

When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
Playing hockey, working out at the gym, sitting on my sofa reading, fiddling on my phone.

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Maura Smale and Derrick Jefferson.

Megan Brooks is on Twitter as @librarygrrrl. This is actually the third time she's written for Letters to a Young Librarian. The first was "Job Fit Revisited: What to Do When You Are the Square Peg," and after that she wrote "Hospitality and Your New Staff Member, by Megan Brooks."

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