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Technology, project management, and coffee yogurt: a day in the life of a librarian

There is one week each year when it is completely acceptable to fawn over libraries and librarians and all that they do for communities, institutions, and the world in general. Of course, you may find yourself doing that every week of the year, anyway, but we have great news for library fans — right now is National Library Week in the US. Follow along with the hashtag #NLW16 across social media to see how everyone is celebrating. To get a bit of insider information on the world of libraries, we talked to Eleanor Cook, Assistant Director for Discovery & Technology Services at East Carolina University, to find out how why she became a librarian, and what she gets up to every day.

What’s your first memory of a library?

When I was a child, my parents took me to our town’s public library regularly. We would spend an hour or more browsing the shelves and picking out books to check out – we would fill up an entire bag of books! Both my parents were veracious readers, and I obviously picked up this gene too.

What made you want to become a librarian?

As an undergraduate student, I was somewhat undecided about my future career direction and as I approached my senior year, I started considering different options. I landed a student job at the main library of my university, and fell in love. I worked as a student, then a graduate assistant and then as a staff member in the acquisitions department for almost 5 years before committing to obtaining my MLS. I never regretted this career choice; it has been an incredibly fulfilling career!

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at the library?

Check my e-mail. And eat my coffee-flavored yogurt. I am famous for my obsession with this one particular yogurt.

What projects are you currently working on?

We are continuing to develop more User Experience projects – just completed a complete redesign of our database list page. Currently working on a complete review of staffing levels and future resource needs, with an eye of how digital is overtaking print and how that impacts the services we offer and the way we deliver them. I am also the co-chair of our campus women’s advocacy group which keeps me very busy.

What’s the best or most rewarding part of your job?

Having recently shifted my focus and responsibilities to the administration of library technology activities, I am learning all the time about new things I never dreamed I would be in charge of.

What part of your job do you think people would find the most surprising?

You might be surprised that it is possible for someone like me (never having been a programmer or a web designer or anything techie, really) to be able to successfully manage a group of people who are.  Fortunately, my cataloguing and technical services background gives me an appreciation for the critical need for detail oriented projects and project management.  I am incredibly fortunate to work with an outstanding cast of highly motivated and talented people.

What has been your proudest moment as a librarian?

I cannot not think of just one thing, but there are a few particular highlights:

Having the experience of working at a university library where the staff got to plan and oversee the conception, design, building and moving into a brand new building. Obviously the architects and contractors did the actual design and building, but we had input all along the way and I was heavily involved in supervising the moving of the bound periodicals stacks.

My other moments in the sun were serving as NASIG President in 2003 and receiving the Harrassowitz Leadership in Acquisitions Award from ALA ALCTS in 2011.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

Following indie rock groups and musicians, gardening, cooking, traveling, and being human caretaker to 3 rescue dogs and a cat.

Image credit: Books by Lubos Houska, Public Domain via Pixabay.

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