Do you know the profession of a disciplinary librarian in a university setting? Do you know what his day job looks like?
We are going to explore this work in more detail with Andrée-Anne Léonard, who has held the position of disciplinary librarian in a university setting at the École supérieure de mode at ESG UQAM for eight months.
How did you choose your profession?
This is actually a second career. When I originally did my bachelor’s degree in communications, I never believed that I would one day become a librarian. Basically, I wanted to learn and meet interesting people, while being passionate about fashion. So I started my career in fashion magazines. I enjoyed the adrenaline of multiple deadlines to meet, and then by the time I was in my thirties, I began to tire of it. I wanted to change jobs! I went to see a counselor to explore different options. And then a friend who had enrolled in the master’s degree in information sciences told me that the job prospects were very good in this sector. I have always loved books, texts, reading, consulting images..This training joined all that and could, in addition, lead me to what I was looking for: a stimulating job on the intellectual level, but not giving me the feeling of being constantly engaged in a time trial.
What does your typical day at work look like?
My position consists largely of customer service, so each day is unique. I feed the professors daily for their research. From databases (websites accessible by subscription and indexing scientific articles), I search for new articles, I read the abstracts and analyze their relevance for professors.
Students also come to see me if they need articles or books to document their work. I teach them how to search in databases, I guide them and help them to do their research.
I also have the role of explaining the methodology for certain works (how to make a bibliography, how to integrate references into a text).
I also manage the collection: I choose the books, DVDs and periodicals that will be purchased and I sort out the works that have become obsolete and those that should be kept.
What excites you about your work and makes you proud?
The contact with people. It’s very stimulating. Empathize with often stressed students who need information right away. Tell them and make them understand that I am there to help them and that we will find the solution together. It’s very satisfying, because you feel like you’re doing people good.
I pride myself on being a support person and acting as an ally to students. The documentation center is like a big toolbox, and I show them what tool to use and how to use it. Being accessible to students is also a great source of satisfaction.
I am also happy when I send an article to a professor who will help him prepare a conference or write an article. I facilitate its work and I contribute in a certain way to the prestige of the institution.
I’ve only been here eight months, but I already have the chance to get involved in the program in several ways, including hosting a blog and planning the layout of the documentation center for the new School that will be inaugurated. next January.
I love what I do. And doing it at the École Supérieure de Mode when you’re passionate about this field, like me, is a dream!
What don’t people know or suspect about your job?
Some people do not really distinguish between the work of the clerk, the technician and the librarian who is trained to develop collections, classify and search for documents (books, articles, films, images) on sometimes very specific subjects. and offer research assistance. With Google, people often feel like they can find everything themselves. However, they do not know that with the help of a librarian, they could find even more things on the subjects that interest them!
What would you like people to know about your work?
Never hesitate to ask a librarian for help! The latter being usually of a curious and helpful nature, he is always happy to help a user. We get great satisfaction from helping others.
The profession of librarian can sometimes be seen as dusty, but the training is very advanced in technology. The profession is changing a lot.
What advice would you give to people who want to do the same job as you?
I encourage anyone who would like to make a living from their passion, be it art, history, music, cinema or, like me, fashion, to consider the master’s program in information sciences which can lead them to a job that will allow them to touch every day the subject that intoxicates them. Moreover, the profession of librarian is not only interested in books. In some environments, it involves acquiring, classifying and researching audio, television or digital archives or even doing sector monitoring. In short, there are an infinite number of positions that can be filled with this training and they are all more exciting than the other.