Thursday, February 11, 2016

Interview Post: Lisa Hinchliffe

Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe

Current job?

Professor and Coordinator for Information Literacy Services and Instruction, University Library & Affiliated Faculty, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

How long have you been in the field?

In Fall of 1989, I started college at the University of St. Thomas and took a library tour. The librarian mentioned that they were hiring work-study students. I applied on the spot – it seemed like a great job given my intention to go to law school. A year in, I had changed my career aspirations and prepared to head off to library school after graduation. I started my first librarian position in the fall of 1995 at Parkland (Community) College.

How Do You Work?

What is your office/workspace like?

My first response is “presentable” – though at this point in the school year it could stand some tidying up. I’m fortunate to have a great office in a historic library building. It has a Dutch door and a large window that brings in a lot of light. Of course, along with that charm comes odd corners and a radiator, but I hope I never have to give my office up because I love it.

How do you organize your days?
Though I use an online calendar (Outlook) at work, I’m dependent on my paper Weekly At-A-Glance Calendar for keeping me organized overall. This isn’t just for recording meetings but also notes, to-do lists, etc. I keep trying to migrate to an online system but so far have not found one that works better than my print system!  

What do you spend most of your time doing?
As the Coordinator for Information Literacy in a large and very decentralized research library, I spend most of my time creating and extending infrastructure – the tools, resources, communications systems, workflows, campus collaborations, information sharing, etc. – that support my colleagues and the information literacy programs that they create for their user communities.

In addition, I am involved with a number of library-wide projects where my role is to bring the lens of teaching and learning to the work at hand (e.g., What are the teaching and learning considerations as we develop our discovery systems? How does the website design impact our instruction programs and what re-design would enable better student learning?).

Finally, as a faculty member, professional engagement is expected, and I work on my research every week. Building and achieving a research agenda is a lifelong task!

What is a typical day like for you?
I typically have 4-6 meetings each day, and the remaining time is spent on email, writing, and collaborative projects. I am also taking coursework for a PhD in Global Studies in Education/Educational Policy, so I have class and homework many evenings.

What are you reading right now?
I just started A History of American Higher Education and Between Citizens and the State: The Politics of American Higher Education in the 20th Century. I’ve also been re-reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I subscribe to a long list of magazines about travel and am always in the middle of an issue of National Geographic Traveler, Conde Nast Traveler, AFAR, etc.

What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
Pick your battles.

What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?
Standing as a candidate for President of the American Library Association. It was such an honor to be nominated for the ballot – to be trusted to step into the role of representing the profession, libraries, and our values and principles.

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?
Travel writer. I absolutely love to travel and read about travel. I dipped my toe into the writing side last year. It was a challenge to write in a non-academic mode, but I had a great editor who mentored me through 5 – yes, 5! – drafts through to publication: “An Inner Place.”

What profession would you never want to attempt?
There are a lot of jobs that I would not want but I’m not a “never” sort of person.

Everything Else

What superpower do you wish you had?
Teleportation. Though I’d like to be selective about using it. Sometimes the journey is part of the destination but much of the time it would be really useful to save the time spent en route.

What are you most proud of in your career?
I’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of library school students – mentoring, supervising assistantships/practicums/independent studies, co-presenting, co-authoring, teaching, etc. It is a privilege to be part of their learning and to learn from them. I’m so proud of all of them.

If you're willing to share, tell about a mistake you made on the job.
I won’t tell the specifics because I need to honor the privacy of others who were involved in the situation but I’ll share a lesson I learned very early in my career. The lesson is that, even when a situation seems obvious, you should investigate and confirm before taking action. You’ll avoid damaging relationships and save time in the long run.

When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
Traveling or planning travel. (Notice a theme?)

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Courtney Young

Lisa is on Twitter as @lisalibrarian.

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