Career Conversations: Discussion between YA Librarian Llyr Heller and Special Librarians

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Career Conversations: Discussion between YA Librarian Llyr Heller and Special Librarians

LLYR HELLER: Welcome everyone. I'm excited for everyone to be here. Thank you for taking time out on your Saturday. We're going to start with please give your name, where you work, what you do, and how did you get to where you are today if you've done any internships or specialized training.

ROBIN DODGE: My name is Robin. I work at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising at the Los Angeles campus, which actually is just down the street and I'm at work today so that was really easy.

Actually, I started working in libraries in high school. I worked about three hours a week in the high school library processing new books. Then in college, I worked in the cataloging department of the UC Santa Barbara Davidson Library. I did that for about three years.

It didn't even occur to me to become a librarian until my supervisor showed me the resume of one of the librarians there and said have you ever thought about doing this. And I read the resume and it said the person had a Master's in library information science. And I was like who would ever want to do that? Then about a year later, I was looking through everything that I had done so far and trying to figure out where I would go, and it just sort of made sense. I loved being in the library and everything that I had done up to that point kind of guided me in that direction. So I applied to UCLA to get my Master's in Library Information Science and just went straight through from undergrad all the way through graduate school.

When I was in grad school, I did a couple internships. I interned at Cal State Northridge and I interned with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for about a year. That was when they were putting computers in all the libraries in California. So my job was to go out and check up on the installations and do a little training and what not.

Then right before I graduated, I got hired at the Fashion Institute, and I've been there ever since.

MATT MORYC: Hi, everyone. Thanks for being here. My name is Matt Moryc. I am one of the archivists for the Walt Disney Archives out in Burbank Walt Disney Studios. My path to my current career is, what I found, is not really like everyone else's, and that's okay. So I had always been someone who liked history and always thought that old things were so cool and talking to people who had lived so much longer than I did was such an interesting thing, but never thought to make a career out of it.

So when I was in college, I was studying business management and communications. All throughout my life I had always loved Disney. Then I realized oh, there's people who make these things. So I became interested in who are these people? Where'd they start? How do they do this kind of stuff? I started to become really interested in Disney history. I studied a lot. It was easy for me to study and things I retained easily.

So after I graduated from college, I was working at Walt Disney World down in Orlando. They had an exhibit there about the life of Walt Disney. As I was walking through, I realized I really love the history of this company. I want to do something in my career to show how much I care about the company's history. So that started about seven years of networking, volunteering, and luck.

So when I lived in Florida, I had no formal training as an archivist. So on my days off, I would volunteer at a history center in Orlando. I started off as the archivist assistant and then I moved into collections. I was the collections assistant. And then I applied for a job with Walt Disney Archives. About two years ago they were looking for an assistant archivist. Basically, someone who knew a lot about Disney history, but also someone that they could mold into what they wanted that person to be. That was me. I'd done a lot of networking in the 7 years. The people that interviewed me knew me and knew I was somebody they could trust. So that's how I made my way out here to California.

Since then, I've been taking continuing education almost every month. So it is possible to be in this path or this career field and have a little bit of education. However, I don't recommend taking my path. If you can get the education before move into your career, I definitely recommend that. But it's not impossible to move into this career path without the formal training, it just makes it a little harder for you to do so.

JULIE HUFFMAN: Hello. My name is Julie. I work here at Los Angeles Public Library. So my trip today was very short. I am the genealogy librarian. I'm down in the history department. Genealogy is the study of your ancestry. So putting together your family tree. Finding out who your grandma was. Where she lived, and when she was born that sort of thing. I have been the genealogy librarian for 5 years and before that, I was a children's librarian, young librarian, and adult librarian. So I've been all different kinds of librarians here at Los Angeles Public.

I came to librarianship later in life. A lot of the people I knew in college it was sort of a second career for them. It's kind of neat because you can take your own interests and sort of find a library role that works with your interest.

So my degree was in journalism. Then after that, I worked at a bookstore. So I didn't actually ever work in journalism, but I was an advertising copywriter for a while. I worked for a bookstore. I worked for a lit agent in Beverly Hills. And I just always thought working around books was really fun. At the bookstore, I laughed every day. I really liked my colleagues. They were all really smart and fun.

So I wanted something to do with books, and that's why I thought librarianship, but it is more about information and helping people get answers to the questions they have. So I wanted to work for a public library where you could help all kinds of people who just walk in off the street. So I got a job at Los Angeles Public, and then when the job at the history department here opened up for genealogy librarian, I didn't even know there was such a thing. But I happen to love genealogy, and I have been doing my own for a long time. So I applied for the job and I got it.

I do have a Master's Degree in Library Science. That's nice because it sort of limits the field. When you're applying for a job, you have to have a Master's Degree. If you don't have one, then you can't even put in your application—a lot of times not like in Matt's situation, but it does make it easier if you power through and get that master's degree. But anyway, I'm just really lucky and happy to have a job in libraries about a subject that I love, which is genealogy.

LLYR HELLER: Welcome. Thanks for being here.

DENISE MC IVER: I apologize for being late. The construction around this area is confusing to say the least. Yes, ma'am.

LLYR HELLER: Well, we just started. We're just going down and introducing ourselves and saying how you got to where you are today. The different—I know you've had an awesome career path sort of a different path and if you had any internships in getting. Thank you.

DENISE MC IVER: Oh, I have a unique kind of weird background. I did not start out as a librarian. But my first librarian job as a clerk, I think I had working papers when I was 14 years old which allowed me to work at my town's public library. I learned how to do the Dewey Decimal system. I learned how to shelve books. It was very low level. It was a junior high school job.

I went to college in New York. I'm from New York originally. I attended Fordham University. Then I ended up in entertainment for a very, very long time.

My entertainment career ended about seven years ago. My choice. I worked in publicity and I worked in the music field. I also had worked previously for a network you might have heard of CBS that actually brought me out here to LA.

So in 2009, just as the stupid recession was getting underway, I decided I needed an additional education. I was invited to apply to a program at St. John's University. They had just been awarded a grant called the Laura K. Bush 21st Century Librarian Scholarship. So they paid for my—I got in. I was very lucky. They only took 40 people. And I was very, very lucky. The program that I was in wanted to bring in folks who came from different fields into the library profession. So most of us did not have librarian careers.

So fast forward during graduate school at St. John's pursuing my MLS I worked as a medical librarian in a hospital, which was fascinating. It's a special library also. I assisted with clinical research for staff. I also applied for grants and got, I think, I was awarded three grants to do collection development from an organization in New York. It was fun, but—and I learned a lot. I learned a lot about research. And I learned about what is available to all of us if you know how to access it.

So I decided after I finished grad school, I would return to LA. I had a five-year stint in New York because a family member had taken ill. I had moved from LA back to New York to care for an ailing parent. So when I graduated from St. Johns in 2011, I decided to come back to LA. I did not have a job. But networking is critically important because I got wind of a job at a museum. It so happened that someone I worked for—worked with, I should say, in the music industry had a connection to the executor director. That's why you never know what your experiences will become a 360. So someone, a writer, I knew recommended me for the job. She was a music writer, and we worked together when I was in the music business.

So I was invited to interview, and I started at the California African‑American Museum in 2012. So I've been there almost seven years now. This is really like a dream come true. A museum librarianship jobs are very difficult to come by. I believe solely it was because of my connection with that writer who knew the executive director and my own networking that helped me land that position.

It was work. I had a huge learning curve because I had never worked for a museum before, but I was on an arts council in New York state, and I did have some art research experience working with a museum at Purchase College. It's like the State University of New York, we can call it "SUNY Purchase" That's the short of it.

LLYR HELLER: Thank you. I'm going to jump around the questions. I'm going to do one more question. I'm going to see if the audience has any questions. But because you are all from various types of institutions can you describe a typical workday and what are the day‑to‑day tasks you do.

ROBIN DODGE: My job is actually middle management. I manage a team of about six people, and I report to the director of the libraries who reports to the vice president of education. So I do a lot of administration things like processing time sheets, and making sure people have submitted the right forms for the right things, and just kind of keeping everybody on task doing what they are supposed to be doing, making sure the schedules all work. A lot of people really don't like that sort of thing. I happen to really love. All that kind of administrative stuff I just absolutely love it. So I do a lot of that. There's a lot of back-end reports. I do a lot of statistical analysis—sort of like an assessment of what we've been doing—and are we meeting our goals that type of thing. Writing reports to my boss or reports that go to other departments. Then I do a I little bit of public service. So I do a reference desk shift about two hours every day. Just a whole wide variety of things each day.

MATT MORYC: My day‑to‑day is very different depending on the day of the week. It's going to sound like I'm rambling when I describe it but there's so many different things that happen while working at the Walt Disney Archives. here could be a day when I'm doing research for someone in the company. Someone may say I need you to figure out every sponsor that's ever existed from Disneyland and Disney world from 55 and 2010. And I say okay and spend a couple days doing that.

I may be proofreading trivia that some department in the company wants to distribute. Maybe fact-checking copy for a TV show or a newspaper article about the Walt Disney Company.

I also do tours. We offer tours of Walt Disney's office suite. We offer tours of our department. I could be doing that.

I could be managing the chronologies for all of our theme parks across the world. So I'm the person for making sure when anything changes at one of the Disney theme parks, that I have notated in our collection that I make sure I've written down the dates, what changed, what it turned into.

I can also be an assisting researcher. We have a lot of researchers that write books about Disney history. So I can be facilitating their research looking for the things they're interested in.

Or I could be doing things like managing our collection. So going through maybe a collection that wasn't properly cataloged or there wasn't information attached to it when it came in and trying to figure out who gave us this collection, what is it's importance? And what does it matter to the history of the Walt Disney company?

I could also be interviewing people for oral the histories of the Walt Disney Company. Or I could be traveling to Japan to help install exhibits that I helped do research for.

So literally every day my department is different. Given that I work for a private corporate entity, we're structured a little bit differently than maybe a public institution. So really every day is different. And every day, it might start off with something I want to do, and it slowly changes into things I don't want to do. Because my boss says I need you to do this right now or my boss's boss says I need you to do this right now.

So I'm at the mercy of whatever it is I'm told to do that day. If I'm told to do nothing, then I do what has to get done which usually means things that haven't been done for the last 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years. Every day is different, and that's what makes this profession so fun at least in my opinion that you're not stuck doing the same thing day in and day out.

JULIE HUFFMAN: I have a variety of tasks too. I work the reference desk in the history and genealogy department. So I will be asked genealogy questions as well as history questions.

What I try to do is if someone is new we get a lot of people coming into the department saying, hey, what's genealogy how do I get involved. So I sort of do, with them, do a little bit of research to try and get them interested. So my objective is to maybe find their grandparent in a record and then they get excited because they see who she's living with and that she's only 5 years old, and its kind of exciting.

I always try to educate myself, learn a little bit every day about genealogy because it's such a vast subject. For instance, if someone comes in and asks what we have for Chinese genealogy. Well, I might be a deer in headlights but I will find out what resources are available. So I keep myself up to date on that so I go to conferences where you can take little workshops on subjects.

I also have a collection that I managed. We have microfilm, microfiche, and books that are used for people that are researching their family histories. I have to make sure they are accessible for my colleagues when somebody asks a question.

I do a lot of outreach. I will go to a senior center or genealogy society, and I'll give a presentation on what our library has to offer for them. So their group can come to the library and I can give them a tour of what we have. I do that inside the library as well trying to tell other people from other subject departments what we have, work with them.

We going to have a digital resource center put in place in the summer, and I'm planning to do a genealogy mini—ancestor mini-movie using the technology they have in that center, and just do short 2‑minute YouTube videos on a center ancestor you have.

So I'm trying to keep up‑to‑date on the DNA stuff that's going on with genealogy. Lots of new developments in that world and people come in and ask questions about that every day. So I try to keep up to date.

I try to be interested in peoples question. Its basically like solving a puzzle, a mystery. And so if you like doing that, if you're like finding an answer and researching, then genealogy is a great hobby to take up. And so it's very interesting for me every day to learn stuff about my job so I can help people.

DENISE MC IVER: I think being a librarian addresses my need for life‑long ongoing learning, and I think that's one of the reasons I became a librarian. I will read a Campbell's Soup can. I read everything I can. One of the things I'm most interested in, is where is this profession going? I think the profession overall—I know you asked about our day‑to‑day—but I think the profession is changing greatly. As I see it, my job is to help fulfill, what we call in library school—this is a term—information needs at the point of need. So we're supposed to be available—I'm sorry information needs, your questions at the point of need.

So getting backs to Llyr's original question of what my typical day looks like. February is Black History Month all cross the country. Everybody and their little brother and sister are going to be doing papers on Luther King. But at the same time, I will work with Ph.D. candidates who are interested in the history of black and African‑American exhibition development.

There's an interest right now in the museum field overall, excuse the term, amongst the culturally specific—what I work for is a culturally specific organization. There's a movement underway in the cultural heritage environment not to whitewash art.

For example, in March I'm holding at my library a Wikipedia edit‑a‑thon. You are all invited. If you ever want to understand how to edit pages in Wikipedia, we'll have a workshop there and you can help us correct, update, enhance the entries. Please come. It's free. Bring your laptop. We will have a facilitator there. We're going to work on updating the pages of women artists. So you're all welcome. It's March 31st.

So my day is just as wild as yours. I'm working on a project now to establish a digitization center for our community. Meaning everybody not just African‑American or black people but Latinos, Asians. You bring your photographs, we'll digitize them at no cost. You bring in your little thumb drive. You can take your originals back home and on your thumb drive, you have your digital copies. We hope to institute that March‑April.

We're also establishing a genealogical center. We will be affiliated with the LDS Church, and I will be getting training in Utah hopefully. They're supposed to send me to Utah to learn how to do it. I've actually already started training at the LDS Church on Santa Monica Boulevard toward West LA.

Up until about two years ago, I was responsible for our newsletter that went out to our constituency four times a year. I'm so glad that was taking away. It was so time-consuming. Working with the graphic designer. Working with the editor. Fighting with the curators over the label descriptions. It was very, very stressful but I always made it on time. It was in our member's mailboxes on time. I did like 17 issues I think. I am so glad that I no longer have to do that. Because it's a lot of work putting together—most museums have a marketing communication department. Mine didn't; but because I come from a PR background, marketing, and communications background—I used to be a publicist—they want to employ or deploy those skills.

I'm expecting this year to be a year of growth at the library I manage. I have a staff two staff. One is a volunteer and the other is a part‑timer who comes in three times a week, and I just recently hired her.

I'm about diversity and inclusion. Just because we're cultural specific, does not mean we only hire people who look like us. The woman I just hired happens to be a German national and she's a PhD in film studies and cinema. She has a knowledge base I don't have, and I can use that to enhance our services to the public. Who knows I might one day have a researcher come in who is going to ask me about how African‑Americans or people of color might have been portrayed in German cinema. You never know.


DENISE MC IVER: They do, and I have the PhD student in my office who can assist with something like that. She would know how to research that.

The other important thing that I do is I facilitate the book club. The first Sunday of every month, we do a book. We cover a book. Last month or this month January, it was Song of Solomon and all of the book selections are tied into current exhibitions. We have a exhibition up that's about family and the notion of family and what does that mean. So Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison is all about a family. So we covered that.

We covered Octavia Butler Parable of a Sewer a few months back. We have normally anywhere from 15 individuals come. I've had as many as 90 depending on the book. Yes, we had to have ‑‑ I had to run around like somebody on Oprah Winfrey. That was a little strenuous. But having 90 people there, allowed me to see how engaged the community was‑—

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Song of Solomon?

DENISE MC IVER: No, this was for the book Americanah. We tied it into—I wouldn't say me too ‑‑ but it was around the same time the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. It was around October 17 ‑‑ I don't remember there's been so many scandals. But I selected Americana, not Americana, but her essay We Should All Be Feminists. We had men there. We had people from LGBT community there. I had a couple homeless people there. Very articulate women, They just didn't have a home. They were unsheltered.

The community comes in and I get to see what the outside is beyond my own narrow. I don't want to be narrow ever. That's why I like being a librarian too because I get to read a lot and think. I like to think a lot. I'm often told by my superior, "Don't over think this." Wrong thing to say to a librarian; right? Am I right? How could you not? Am I right? We tend to over think things.

LLYR HELLER: Any audience questions for now?

>> I didn't get what library you were?

DENISE MC IVER: Oh I'm sorry. Yes, I'm with the California African‑American museum. I manage ‑‑ it's a very small library. We only have seven thousand volumes.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Oh, okay. Just so you know I went to—sorry—Detroit and I spent time at their African‑American museum. I thought theirs was brilliant. I was really kind of praying and putting a lot of energy that the African‑American Museum here would have even a gift shop or ‑‑ the last couple years have been more activities and community involvement. You guys are going a great job.

DENISE MC IVER: I'll share that with the executive director.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah, I actually—I work in a hair Salon it's black Hollywood. We talk about it all the time, we need to support—I go to museums everywhere I go. Libraries and museums are my thing. One thing I think the African‑American museum when you see what's capable of being done in that, we have a long way to go with the African‑American museum. I'm glad that they have people like you that are having that. But you definitely need as much support as possible cause I see the potential in it.

DENISE MC IVER: Come on down and volunteer Saturday a month.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I'm part of the KCRW they come and do ‑‑

DENISE MC IVER: They do the summer nights thing

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah, and I do participate in a lot of your activities. I'm on the list for the March events.

DENISE MC IVER: By the way people, we have a huge party coming up in March. I brought the program. You're all invited. It's all ages. Those under 21 will not be allowed to drink, but we will have food trucks, a bar, and DJs, and you can see the new exhibit. It's free and open to the public. I hope you all come bring folks. It's free. It's a great date night.

LLYR HELLER: Yes, question.

[Inaudible question]

LLYR HELLER: Excellent question. I'm going to repeat your question so we get it recorded: How is a research librarian different ‑‑ library different than say a public library? Or what are their similarities? Would you like to go first?

ROBIN DODGE: There could be a long answer to that, but I'll answer according to our library. A lot of people think we are a research library, and we are not. A research library would be something more like UCLA where they have collections that go deep enough to support people on the PhD level.

So I sometimes get calls, we'll get a phone call from people saying: I want to know more about 18th century beaded Navajo belt buckles. I'm like, we don't have anything like that. Well you're the fashion institute and you're supposed to have everything related to fashion ever published. We actually—our purpose is to support our students so we're curriculum driven. Our students are earn Associate's Degree, Bachelor's Degree, Master Degree. So we hold collections and subscribe to resources to support that level of education. It is not necessarily—we do research and our students do research, but I wouldn't consider it in the way we sort of describe libraries—amongst librarians—I would not consider it a research library.


LLYR HELLER: Special library.

ROBIN DODGE: But that's a good one. It's a good question. We get asked that a lot. I'm actually very involved in a professional association called the Special Libraries Association. We have trouble with the name all the time, because people are like what's a special library. It's sort of defined by what it's not. We're not a public library. We are academic, but we're very specialized.

A special library can be anything from what I do which is specialized academic, but also a library in a government institution. There's a lot of libraries at military bases. There's libraries inside corporation. I know a librarian who works or Oracle databases. There's a librarians working for Amazon working for Google. There's librarians behind your favorite online retail web sites working on how the wording ‑‑ the key wording is structured essentially. Those would all be special libraries type institutions.


DENISE MC IVER: I was going to add as she just described for me. It's about subject specialty. I cannot say that my library has everything on the planet about Africans, the African‑American diasporic experience, but I have a good foundation. If someone wants to go really deeper, I send them to Christina Rice here who might have—I think she is in the history department here. I'll send them to Charles Young, but for the basic stuff. Like I'm not kidding you, I wish I had a nickel for every kid that's going to come in between now and March 1st asking for research. It just happened twice last week. So I know the curriculum in LAUSD is going to be focused on black history.

I consider—as a medical librarian, there's librarians in hospitals. The NIH, The National Institute of Health, which is a government agency. I have a friend who works there. She does a lot of tagging for like scholarly articles. I forget is that metadata? That's not metadata, is it? Broadly speaking.

I have a friend who works up in—at Amazon and she does cataloging and metadata. It's very interesting. The gentleman here who's from Walt Disney as the arc visit has a lot to take care of it sounds like

AUDIENCE MEMBER: And it keeps getting more [Inaudible]

DENISE MC IVER: Yes. I think I'm older—yes, maybe Matt is older than I am. I'm so happy—I grew up on Mickey Mouse. I'm a big fan of Mickey's.

LLYR HELLER: Do you have a second question?


LLYR HELLER: So to recap is the question, if I understand it, kind of as an archivist versus let's say a research librarian how are they similar? Cause you work with a feminine or awe and work with items?


ROBIN DODGE: I just want to answer very quickly. I think you can—you guys can give more to this topic. But I do want to say there's a fundamental difference between the way museum people see their artifacts and the way librarians see their collections.

Museum people want to preserve their artifacts so their focus is on kind of—I don't mean to sound this the wrong way—but keeping things behind lock and key, wrapping them up and protecting them for the future. Whereas librarians our focus is on access. So we want to make sure that everything is cataloged and available and given to the patron at the point of need. So it does ‑‑ those two fundamental principles do sometimes clash.

At FIDM our museum is an entirely separate entity. They are a not for profit entity that's totally separate from the school. We are two different departments, but that has caused some conflict with our special collections before. So it's something we have to work together to resolve.

MATT MORYC: That was a great answer by the way.

At Disney we do have a lot of physical objects, but we technically are not a museum. We do put on many exhibits in a year, but we are not a museum. With our collections manager who has a museum's background, her focus is primarily on the objects. Making sure that she knows where are they? How are they being used? How are they being displayed? Is anything damaged? What should we not put on display? What have we never displayed?

In my opinion, people in the museums background are more gear towards what do we have? Should we show it?How do we care for it?

Whereas librarians, they're not interested in what you're showing or how you're showing it. For them it's more about getting the information for that and making sure it's available for someone to have and making sure it's accessible. I know it's kind of overlapping with what you said, but what you said and what I'm saying is I feel a pretty good way of explaining the differences between the two. Does that answer your question or is there anything ‑‑

AUDIENCE MEMBER: It does [Inaudible] it's kind of telling me that two disciplines ‑‑ something that's going to happen together [Inaudible] presentation is going to be the next big frontier for library. Books are going no where. You [Inaudible] have books, but to really explain digital access [Inaudible]

MATT MORYC: Our collections manager, this is just speaking for where I work, she does a little bit of librarian work. She's responsible for the entire collection. Our department does not have a dedicated librarian. So it kind of falls to our collections manager to figure what are we going to do with all these books? How are we going to catalog all this? How are we going to index? What are you going to do with all this stuff? I don't know if librarianship will go away ‑‑

AUDIENCE MEMBER: [Inaudible] not go away [Inaudible]

MATT MORYC: To a point, yes. But—


LLYR HELLER: We help you differentiate what you find on Google.


DENISE MC IVER: You can disagree with me. We make it meaningful. That's the difference between these living beings here and Google.


DENISE MC IVER: That's why you want to go beyond school, girls. You want to go beyond. You want to make friends when you're in college with your college librarian because she will help you to really get to the nugget of knowledge that you need in order to do your term paper. Another hint, don't wait two days before. Okay. I'm just telling you. Because I become very upset when kids come in and say I have a paper due in two days.


DENISE MC IVER: Well actually, there's a book over here. TaDa. It's called the Craft of Research. I don't know what grade you guys are in, but you might want to take a picture of this and hold it. Eventually you're going to go to college.


DENISE MC IVER: But maybe it's not right now, but you should talk ‑‑ do you have a librarian at your school?


DENISE MC IVER: Well you have these ladies here. That's one of the things that's about the teacher strike recently. A lot of schools do not have nurses and librarians full time, and I think that was one of the negotiation points. I'm glad to see that because teachers are so busy. They don't have the time to hand hold students who need the assistance. Hand holding is not bad. You should make friends with your librarian even if you come here twice a month. Do you guys have library cards? It's the beginning of knowledge. Wise women store up knowledge.

MATT MORYC: I wanted to add a quick little thing. All librarians I've known throughout my life have been some of the smartest people I've ever known. It just goes to show make friends with your librarian.

LLYR HELLER: We only have about eight more minutes so we're going to do a little bit of lightening rounds. Hopefully these are short—well answer as you will. Freelance versus in‑house. I don't believe any of your jobs can be done as a freelancer?

JULIE HUFFMAN: Mine could. People ask me at the desk if I'm available for hire because they have a specific ancestor they can't get past and need help with. So when I retire I could possibly do that. Also with this whole forensic genealogy development, where police departments are using DNA and go into genealogy sites to figure out who the killer or victim is, they hire genealogists to look at the data.


JULIE HUFFMAN: I'm here at Los Angeles public.

LLYR HELLER: She's our genealogist downstairs in the history department.


LLYR HELLER: What kind of hours do you have? I know two of you are at work currently along with myself. Do you work weekends? Do you work evenings? What kind of hours?

ROBIN DODGE: When I started I had very traditional hours. It was like 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.‑ish. But I'm not a morning person and I kept on my performance review, my boss kept telling me I was not a morning person. So I kept negotiating every year a later and later schedule. So now my hours are very strange. I don't work Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. On Wednesday and Thursday I work the evening shift. Then Friday and Saturday I work not the latter half of the day, but not super early in the morning. So my schedule is all over the place. We have some people at our library who work the early bird shift. So it's like that in an academic institution. You can kind of come in early or come in late shift because we need to staff for the entire time the students are there.

MATT MORYC: I work pretty normal hours Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 5:30 or 6:00. Since my department supplement the entire Walt Disney company, we typically work when most other people work. Occasionally I'll work a weekend if we have an exhibit install or there's a tour on the weekend they need someone to work. But just typical hours for me.

DENISE MC IVER: I had a screwy schedule for about two and a half years because I was attending ‑‑ I was pursuing a second Master's. So the deal was with my boss so that I could go to school during the week, I had to work weekends. That was draining. It was very hard. Now I'm on a schedule wherein I'm in the office Tuesday through Saturdays. Off on Sundays and Mondays.

As a state employee, we're a state library whereas you're a city library, they're very generous with the holidays. We celebrate everything except Kwanza. I mean we celebrate it. We have the Kwanza decoration or whatever you call it. So they're very generous. I mean, I ‑‑ I work from basically 9:00 to about 5:15, 5:30. We have to close at 5 o'clock p.m. because we are a state facility. And so I try ‑‑ if people come in at 4:15, 4:30, I tell them early on that I start closing up about ten of five. So it's pretty regular now, but when I was going to school and working full time—I was going to school part time two nights a week 35 miles from here and it was grueling.

I started back up again last night. This time as an alum though. Life long learning to me is my preferred drug.

JULIE HUFFMAN: Similar to the state run library, ours is a city library, so we have to follow union and city rules. So you don't get creative. We don't do much overtime. I've never done overtime. So you work a certain ‑‑ everybody's equal. Basically Monday through Friday, you're here when the library's open. You work one weekend ‑‑ one Sunday a month, two Saturdays a month. Everybody kind of does the same thing so it's pretty even.

DENISE MC IVER: It's not a bad, you know, schedule. I'm grateful because not only do I work for the government, which I now has gotten bad for us in the last 34‑35 days, but I'm also union. Unions are very important in my work. In fact, we're starting negotiations for our next contract with Gavin Newsom now because our contract will run out in 2020. I hope he does well by us because we gave his ‑‑ my union ‑‑ gave his campaign a lot of money so he better do right.

LLYR HELLER: Can you talk a little bit about diversity in your profession. Are you seeing it more or is there still a lot to do?

ROBIN DODGE: It tends to be a female heavy profession. Although, we are seeing a lot more men. I was just at a conference for the Special Libraries Association where we were talking about the diversity and there were a lot more men present. Different ethnicities are starting to be more well represented, but it is still female and Caucasian dominated.

MATT MORYC: I would agree with the female comment. Most my coworkers or colleagues are female. The only exception, in my opinion, I think is with the digital realm. I notice a lot of people we hire who work on digital projects or people I know who work on projects digitally, tend to be male. I don't know a ton of females who are into technology like some of the males that I know.


>> Yes.

MATT MORYC: Yeah. Just in my experience, I've just known men who are very focused on photography and Photoshop and digitization. But overall it's mostly women. I'd agree it's mostly Caucasian women.

JULIE HUFFMAN: I think the library can be a lot more diverse than it is. I'm not sure how we go about doing that. I think it's very white. I think it's very female. Within genealogy as a subset, generally it's older women who are interested and who I see in the library. Although there are definitely men who come in, but it's largely Caucasian. It might be our collection that needs to expand a little bit to bring more people in. So we have to work on it.

DENISE MC IVER: We have, as part of SLA, we have, I think, REFORMA for those pursuing it's an organization for the Latino Hispanic community, LatinX who are pursuing careers as librarians and happen to be Latin heritage. Up until ‑‑ because I'm not a public librarian per se, there was the California Black Librarian's Caucus. One of the first African‑American or I like to say black librarians in the county of the Los Angeles was Miriam Matthews. So she's a very important role model figure for us. She's no longer alive. Her collection of materials is now at Charles Young. She was the first African‑American county librarian here.

I do think that there is more diversity, but I think what concerns me is that it's an aging profession. Meaning that, soon people will be retiring and we need fresh blood. We need people of color. We need younger people to replenish the supply. That doesn't mean a person who's 40 years old. In my class at library school, we had people older than I am who were starting off a second career. They were in their late 40's and such. So we need younger people and we need more people of color. Because that way, I believe, I think some people of color are often intimidated to ask questions; and, if they see someone who looks like them, it might make the search a little bit easier. Also ladies, you should never be intimidated of asking a question of anyone as long as it's appropriate, okay. But I think it's important to have people that represent this world.

LLYR HELLER: Thank you.

For the last question, is there anything in your different areas if someone is in high school or if they're in college or if they're thinking about a second career and are an adult, are there internships or shadowing opportunities in your area?

JULIE HUFFMAN: So we just had [Chuckling] here we have summer interns made up of first and second year gradate or in under grad. Also after I completed my library Master's and I was kind of looking for a job, Denise gave me an opportunity volunteering with her. It was awesome and amazing. I have not gotten to do the work I've gotten to do with you here because it was cataloging and we don't catalog here per se. But if you're interested in any type of area, go for it.

ROBIN DODGE: Well I actually do a lot of hiring. As a hiring manager, I really prefer to see library experience on the resume. So those people always get bumped up to the top of the list. If you're not at the Master's level, I would say get a job in a library on some level. Then, if you get to the Master's level and you're trying to break into the field, then get involved in a professional association. Like the American Librarian Association, Special Libraries Association. Like everyone was saying, it's all about networking. Network like crazy.

MATT MORYC: Speaking on behalf of private special collections, we don't offer any internships. There are no volunteers where I work. However, there's always a museum or library somewhere that needs help. If any public institution, just ask is there anywhere in your research library where I can volunteer. Usually, there's something that needs to be cataloged somewhere. The opportunity is there to volunteer. Like the rest of the group has said, joining organizations is a huge help. Even if there's a place where you can't volunteer or you can't be an intern, still reach out to that place.

I'm always amazed at the amount of people who talk about wanting to work where I work, but no one ever reaches out to me to ask questions about it. So reach out to someone you're interested in talking to. The worst they can say is no, but no one knows what you want to do unless you tell them. So get out there and tell them what you want to do.

JULIE HUFFMAN: Yeah. I think pursuing your own interest; For instance, if you are interested in genealogy, work on your own tree. If you have a specific question—Irish genealogy question, seek out an Irish group. When you network, it doesn't have to be this hardcore I'm handing out a business card. Just talk to people and be really interested in your subject. I think that's number one is to really love your subject. It comes through when you interview. That is—every day that you work doing something you love is going to be a joy. So really, just figure out what you like and how can you solve your own questions and go out there and just meet people. There are plenty of societies for all kinds of interests out there. Just kind of have fun doing it. It's not—don't make it hard. You'll just meet people and they'll get to know you and they will love you.

DENISE MC IVER: I highly recommend that you just pick up the phone or in the alternative, you might want to make a visit to a special library first and just see what their collection holds. Ask the librarian for her business card. Most of us have them. Call a week or two later and say I'd love to come in and talk to you about what you do. Do you have 15 minutes to have a conversation or do it over the phone. I've had—the woman who's volunteering for me actually came in to interview for the job. She was changing careers. She was moving from social work into museums—into what we call museum work. She wanted to work part‑time in the library, but she had never worked at a museum so I couldn't really hire her. But I liked her enough that I asked her if she would be willing to volunteer. In exchange for her volunteering with me, I have helped her expand her own network and have given her names of people in my network, I felt, that she could call and speak to. I'm very—one of the most satisfying things I've done in the course of these 7 years, is I've helped other people launch their careers. There's nothing wrong with asking for advice. I think internships are important. I did two of them when—I studied digitization at Pasadena City College. I interned here digitizing menus. When I was in library school because I was on this track for business intelligence, I interned in New York at the federal reserve bank. We did the oral histories. I indices oral histories as part of a project—a special project. So it was really fascinating to be in the center of monetary policy for the United States at least.

LLYR HELLER: Thank you. Just as a last note, one of my favorite things also when volunteering with you is you took us out to different places to look at their collections. We went to FIDM. We went to different places. We did field trips. It was amazing.

Thank you so much. To all of you for taking time out of your Saturday today.

Thank you audience members for joining us. We are done. Next month is lawyers so if you're interested in law come and visit us and listen to a variety of different lawyers. Thank you.

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