Thursday, November 16, 2017

Interview Post: Emily Drabinski

From left to right: the author, Clive, and Tom

Emily Drabinski

Current job?

Coordinator of Instruction, Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus (GO BLACKBIRDS!)

How long have you been in the field?

15 years! Wow!

How Do You Work?

What is your office/workspace like?

Messy. Piles everywhere. I have an organized calendar and an organized Dropbox, but my actual office is a mess.

How do you organize your days?
I have a nine year old, so he does a lot of the organizing for me. I am up at 5:15 to get him fed, homework done, and out the door to the bus stop by 7am, and then I’ll run to the office or around Prospect Park with a friend before heading into work. My work time is organized around meetings, reference desk shifts, and instruction sessions, with plenty of staring at the internet and responding to email.

What do you spend most of your time doing?
Talking to people and scheduling time to talk to people. I do a lot of organizing work for my job (getting people into the library for information literacy instruction), and these days I am organizing in my workplace around increasing management control over our labor. I start my term on ALA Council at Midwinter this February, so I’m having lots of organizing conversations trying to figure out what the scope of my work in that body might be over the next three years. And I’m organizing a conference in July at Simmons College, and I organize a book series, organize organize organize. I could stand to spend a little more time clarifying for myself what my vision for the days ahead might be. Sometimes, down in the weeds, we can lose sight of what really matters, why we bother to do the work we do.

What is a typical day like for you?
Lots of appointments and meetings and emails and reports. I keep a to-do list in a print calendar and I update it constantly throughout the day. So many little things to do. But big change happens one small task at a time. I’m usually making sure those tasks are completed, one by one.

What are you reading right now?

Vincente Hernández, History of Books and Libraries in the Philippines, 1521-1900. Tana French at bedtime.

What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
Write a little every day.

What have you found yourself doing at work that you never expected?

I am exceptional at stapler unjamming, and I unjam my fair share of staplers. I also hand out an awful lot of candy to undergraduates.

Inside the Library Studio

What is your favorite word?
Tension when it’s used as a noun.

What is your least favorite word?
Tomorrow. It never comes!

What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
Flight attendant

What profession would you never want to attempt?
Unlike my kid, professional baseball player. Full count, bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, down by three, I think I would come apart if it was me at the plate. Happy to bat in the middle of the order.

Everything Else

What superpower do you wish you had?
The ability to redistribute wealth and opportunity!

What are you most proud of in your career?
The book series I edit for Library Juice Press/Litwin books. It is a boatload of thankless work, lots of emails and calendars, and checklists, but I think a lot of good voices are out in the world because of the editorial infrastructure I’ve helped to build.

If you're willing to share, tell about a mistake you made on the job.
Withholding information because it’s hard to admit or confront. I’ve made that mistake many times, it’s always bad. “No surprises” is my number one workplace rule, and I have always regretted breaking it.

When you aren't at work, what are you likely doing?
Watching reality television on the couch with my cats.

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Fobazi Ettarh, Annie Rauh, Regina Gong

Emily tweets at @edrabinski.

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