2012 Eureka Fellow: Jen Robinson
I work at the Novato and South Novato Regional branches of the Marin County Free Library system. The library has 10 branches plus a bookmobile, and serves a largely suburban population. Marin County is directly North of San Francisco and is known for its beaches, quaint towns, and George Lucas. I live in Berkeley, so I commute about 35 minutes each way. On the drive I listen to a lot of books on CD, mostly Fantasy because otherwise I won't read it - in print I cannot keep track of characters with names like Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander.
I’m the Head of Children’s Services for the two branches, meaning I manage other Children’s librarians, schedule desk coverage, attempt to modernize our immense and outdated print collection, devise programming, create budgets, propose projects and partnerships, render myself indispensible to schools, parents and organizations, and generally act as a face of the library in our community.
Last December my husband and I moved down here from Seattle, Washington. He’s from Humboldt County and I lived in San Francisco for most of my 20s, so we were happy to move back after so many soaked Winters. I worked for The Seattle Public Library for five years: first as a Teen Services Librarian in the branches, and then as a Virtual & Instruction Services Librarian at the Central library. I still miss a lot of my colleagues from SPL - there were so many bright eyed, talented, dedicated and passionate people there.
I’ve spoken at two ALA Annual conferences, taught a handful of webinars, and written several articles about Virtual Reference, Service to teens/tweens, and Social Media. I don’t think I’m asked to do these things because I have any earth shattering views or solutions. Instead, I think it’s because I enjoy talking with people about all sorts of different ways to approach situations (not just the bestone). I also like sharing things that have worked for me or other libraries -- the more we can share, the more informed and connected we feel. I’m working on a website that I hope will become a place where library staff can share tips and learn skills from other professionals such as social workers, project managers, recruiters, and architects.
I’m passionate about a lot of different issues. Who isn’t? But if I had to narrow things down, I’d say I want people to expect a lot from their library and I want everyone to feel welcome and valued there, including staff. What would it be like if everyone working in a library felt empowered, useful, and flexible? Some of the most rewarding work I’ve done is sitting on different strategic planning committees: brainstorming, evaluating, and recommending ways we can make libraries better for patrons and staff as well as acting as a conduit for staff and administration concerns.
I applied to Eureka because I’m looking for mentors and peers who can help me pick out what’s most crucial/useful/unique/realistic out of the bunch of ideas I have at any given moment. An opportunity to focus and a chance to learn from other dedicated librarians was too good to pass up. I look forward to absorbing tons of information, hearing everyone’s ideas (big and small), and creating mutually beneficial relationships outside of my library.