2012 Eureka Fellow: Jack Baur
Though I spent a very good portion of my young life in libraries, I didn’t think I would actually become a librarian until I graduated from the University of Oregon. I had worked at the U of O’s Knight Library during my four years there and, looking around at the job options available to me as a recent grad with my freshly printed BA in Sociology and Philosophy all I could think was “MAN, why can’t I just get my library job back?!”
Three years later I was attending the University of Washington’s iSchool, getting myself involved with the burgeoning InfoCamp movement and taking a couple classes from Nancy Pearl along the way. I learned a lot of good stuff at the iSchool: the importance of looking at all of the library’s features from the user’s perspective; how to consider and respect the needs AND the tastes of users. Most importantly, I saw that the library world is hungry for leaders. I found myself co-chairing the WLA’s Reference Interest Group, which helped me build confidence and see the importance of professional involvement. I also discovered that I could parlay my longtime love of comic books into a legitimate career niche, paving the way for much of what’s happened since.
Shortly after grad school I was a Teen Services Librarian at the Berkeley Public Library. I hadn’t really intended to become a Teen Librarian but turns out I really like it. Teens are very much a Field of Dreams kind of group. They are generally on the lookout for something to do and a place to belong, so the personal rewards one finds in building a successful teen program are very great. Teens are to work with, their heads bursting with ideas and full of strange interests. And Teen Librarians get to have an absurd amount of fun. Buying comics and playing video games and putting on plays and doing crafts – that's how I spend my days. It's rad.
I mentioned before that I like comics, and since I've been a Teen Librarian I've written several articles, a chapter in Genreflecting, gone to conventions, and given trainings about using comics in the library. I am glad that librarians have accepted comics into their collections, but I feel like many think of them more as a box to check. I want to show librarians what makes good comics good, and help them understand how to select for comics collections and really serve their readers. I've also gotten really interested in discovering new ways that public librarians and school librarians can support each other's missions through collaboration. And I'm ready to start my third term acting as President of the Bay Area Young Adult Librarians group, and getting to bend this organization to my whims and create opportunities for me and others to explore new directions in library services is a great source of professional excitement for me.
That's what I'm looking for in Eureka: finding more opportunities to explore, and building skills to create those opportunities for myself and others. I can't wait to get started.