Thursday, March 31, 2016

Interview Post: Jaleh Fazelian

Jaleh Fazelian

Current job?

Head of Research, Learning, and Information at a small, Jesuit, liberal arts college in Ohio. Also, I am the current President of the Middle East Librarians Association (MELA).

How long have you been in the field?
I have been working in libraries since 2000. I became a librarian in 2004.

How Do You Work?

What is your office/workspace like?
I am very lucky to have my own office. It has three walls of windows, and one of those windows overlooks a courtyard. There’s even a tree! I have enough space in my office for my standing desk and a sitting area, which is nice for when I have meetings. My office is located on one of the major walkways in the library and butts up next to the printers in our largest computer lab. Needless to say it can be noisy and busy at times, but that is just how I like it.

I almost always have music on in my office. The volume is low enough that only I hear it, but it’s important to my workday. If you like to have music while you’re working, I recommend Spotify playlists. Some of my favorites are: Have A Great Day, Productive Morning, and Old School Hip Hop House Party (explicit lyrics).

How do you organize your days?
Everything begins and ends with Google. We use Gmail and Google Calendar at work, so my whole work life is on my calendar. I’d be lost without it. In terms of offline organization, I stay on track and organized with my to do list and my Erin Condren planner.

Beyond how I keep track, everything depends on the day. Generally the day starts with checking my email and calendar from home to see what, if anything, tended to immediately (and that sometimes means MELA business). Once I get into work, I put out the fires and then dig into whatever awaits me. I do my best detail work in the morning, so I try to organize accordingly. I use the afternoon to work on items that require more creativity.  

What do you spend most of your time doing?
If I am honest, I spend half my time in meetings. Being a supervisor means regular meetings with staff and my own director. In addition to that, I am on committees and have several regularly standing meetings. When I am not in meetings, I devote my time to follow ups from all those meetings, planning for/teaching classes, working on library assessment projects, researching and writing articles and/or book chapters, and working on library outreach. I also try to walk around the building and observe students using our space 2-3 times a day.

What is a typical day like for you?
Well, as most librarians know, there is rarely a typical day. I tend to come in between 8-9am and I try to grab lunch before 2 pm or else I get cranky. I am usually out the door by 5pm but I often respond to emails when I get home if there is a deadline or something pressing. In between 8-5, it’s a mix of meetings, working at my desk, walking around the building to check on things, and whatever else pops up.

What are you reading right now?
I am reading Dispatches from the Arab Spring: Understanding the New Middle East edited by Paul Amar and Vijay Prashad for a book review I am writing. I am working my way through the Alexander Hamilton, a biography by Ron Chernow. Like a lot of folks I have become obsessed with the Hamilton Musical so I decided to read the source material. I am also reading The Life Changing Art of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want To Do by Sarah Knight for a book club.  Recently for my fluff reading I’ve been digging into the Tessa Dare Spindle Cove series.

What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
Well, I tend to put stock into two pieces of advice from a former director. The first is not new at all: ask forgiveness not permission. We will all make mistakes or overreach at some point but that is never a reason to not be inventive or creative. The second piece of advice is don’t be afraid to slaughter your sacred cow. Don’t rest on those “this is how we’ve always done it” laurels. Push the boundaries.

What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?
Honestly, nothing. I assumed a career in libraries would have me working on unexpected tasks.

Inside the Library Studio

What is your favorite word?
Defenestration. I pretty much never get to use it, but I’ve loved this word since I learned about the Defenestration of Prague in undergrad. Plus, it’s fun to say aloud.

What is your least favorite word?

What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
I would love to be the female voiceover you hear in commercials, movie trailers, etc.

What profession would you never want to attempt?
I can easily say I would never want to be a police officer or farmer. I am not cut out for either of those professions.

Everything Else

What superpower do you wish you had?
I would LOVE to be able to fly. That would be pretty cool, if not necessarily great for my curly hair.

What are you most proud of in your career?
I am very proud of two aspects of my career. First, being elected Vice President/Program Chair and then becoming the President of MELA. It is an honor to represent my colleagues and I enjoy working with librarians from around the world. Second, I am really proud of the relationships I’ve cultivated with students at my current and former institutions. Helping students is why I got into libraries and it’s what keeps me here.

If you're willing to share, tell about a mistake you made on the job.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes on the job. If someone tells you otherwise, they are lying. I would say my first year working as a cataloger was a series of regular mistakes. It took me a long time to understand the language of cataloging. I finally got the hang of it all (much to the delight of my former boss) and now I actually miss cataloging Arabic and Persian books regularly. 

When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
Hanging out with my husband and our two cats. Scanning Craigslist for mid-century furniture. Reading. Watching something on Netflix. Waiting patiently for the next season of the Great British Baking Show to come to America.  Rooting for Indiana Basketball (Go Hoosiers!).

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Erin Leach, April Hathcock, Rachel Fleming

Jaleh tweets at @jaleh_f.

No comments:

Post a Comment