Courtney L. Young
Head Librarian, Penn State Greater Allegheny
How long have you been in the field?
19 years this fall! Librarianship has been my first and only career. Before earning my MS in Library Science, I shelved books as a teenager at a public library, worked all four years in a number of positions at my college library, and worked as a circulation assistant at a theological library while I was in library school.
How Do You Work?
What is your office/workspace like?
My current office is in a library building with limited renovations to date. The first thing people notice is the wood paneling on the walls. I have an L-shaped desk and a small round table with four chairs. Hanging on the walls are two framed READ posters featuring Bernie Mac and LL Cool J. I have have a plaque of appreciation from ALA New Members Round Table from when I served as President from 2009-2010, and a certificate for distinguished service on the ALA Executive Board from 2009-2012. I also have a bookcase and large filing cabinet. The desk, small table, bookcase, and filing cabinet are in a coordinated warm brown wood. Since library buildings are known for having HVAC issues, I have a heater and a fan.
How do you organize your days?
We have an electronic online calendar in our email system, but I also keep a handwritten to do list on a small notepad. I like the satisfaction of crossing things off a list. Of course when providing support to others, there are times when my day seems unorganized because I may have to stop what I’m doing to help a colleague or staff member with a problem, assist a student with a reference question, or respond to a time-sensitive email, but it happens. Also, I tend to check email and log into various systems when I first get to the office and listen to any voicemail messages.
What do you spend most of your time doing?
Responding to a continuous flood of email.
What is a typical day like for you?
One where I intend to start and complete tasks on my to do list, but recognize that I am also here to respond to questions and assist my staff with whatever arises during the course of a day. I take time here and there to check in on social media, especially Twitter where an excellent network of librarians, LIS students, and library staff enrich my professional practice. I find I am more productive when listening to music I enjoy, so I tune into one of my Pandora radio channels.
What are you reading right now?
I'm catching up on a magazine backlog. Real Simple and Sports Illustrated.
What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
You have something to contribute to this profession, don't be afraid to find your voice.
What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?
Mentoring students and faculty.
Inside the Library Studio
What is your favorite word?
Sale and clearance.
What is your least favorite word?
What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
One of my dream jobs is to be a personal shopper (clothing and shoes). I've actually gone shopping with colleagues and former students to build a wardrobe for a new job. It's fun to encourage people to try on something they wouldn't normally select for themselves. It’s even more fun to find a great deal.
What profession would you never want to attempt?
Anything involving driving a really big vehicle, like a bus driver or big rig truck driver.
What superpower do you wish you had?
The ability to read people's minds.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Three things. Being elected to serve as President of the American Library Association for 2014-2015. Being promoted to the rank of Librarian and Professor. Receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Simmons College School of Library and Information Science.
When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
Watching an MLB baseball game. I've attended a lot of Pittsburgh Pirates games this season and am on track to see fourteen games at the stadium this season. If I'm not taking in a game I'm probably shopping, taking photos, or hand-writing letters to send in the mail.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Dr. Carla Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress.
Courtney tweets at @librarycourtney.
Courtney tweets at @librarycourtney.