In this series, New Faces, the Nebraska Library Commission interviews someone from the next generation of Nebraska librarians.
Today we are speaking with Libby Munsell, Library Assistant and Interlibrary Loan Librarian at the Kilgore Memorial Library in York, Nebraska. Libby began her studies through the Library and Information Services program at Central Community College, and she received her Bachelor’s degree in General Studies with a concentration in Library Science from the University of Nebraska Omaha in December 2013. She is a 2012 and 2013 Nebraska Library Commission / Institute of Museum and Library Services Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian scholarship recipient.
NLC: How is it you went to library school?
LIBBY MUNSELL: I have always enjoyed my trips to the library, but I didn’t really consider working in a library until high school. I took a Career Education class and one of my suggested jobs was librarian. Since we were required to do volunteer hours to graduate and I decided to volunteer at the library. My job consisted of shelving DVDs and audio books and straightening the magazine collection. I had a wonderful experience—I enjoyed the organization, the peaceful atmosphere, and the staff that were so willing to help me. I researched my options for library programs across the state and decided to start with Central Community College classes to make sure that the library was the place I wanted to be. A year after I graduated high school, I got a part-time job at the Kilgore Memorial Library in York to shelve children’s books. At that time, I knew for sure that I was in the right program.
NLC: What did you learn in your coursework that surprised you the most? Complete the sentence, “I had no idea….”
LIBBY MUNSELL: …that acquiring and preparing a book for the public involved so many steps! When I learned that managing collections and cataloging involved so much thought and detail, I gained a new appreciation for the work that librarians do.
NLC: Did you receive a scholarship from the Nebraska Library Commission? How did it help you with getting an education and in your career aspirations?
LIBBY MUNSELL: I received a 21st Century Librarians Scholarship from the NLC and it has been helpful in multiple ways. First of all, it made getting my degree a more financially affordable option. The scholarship also included a stipend for association membership, conference attendance, and the purchase of a laptop computer. I was able to attend my first Nebraska Library Association Conference last year and it was a great opportunity for me to meet new people and learn from others’ library experiences. While I have not used my association membership to the fullest, I receive emails that keep me up to date on events and information that is important to me as a library assistant and as a library student. The stipend money for a laptop was helpful because it allowed me to have my own laptop that I could use to bring to classes. In addition, I can bring my laptop when I travel to work on my online classes. As a scholarship student, I have been made aware of extra training opportunities and it has encouraged me to always seek new information and build my skills to better work with the public.
NLC: What brought you to the world of library work?
LIBBY MUNSELL: I’ve always loved books—reading them, organizing them, talking about them. I also have an appreciation for technology and the way it connects people and makes information so easily accessible. I knew that I wanted to work in a library because I wanted to be a part of helping the public access the information that they want or need.
NLC: What’s the most useful non-library work experience you bring to a library job?
LIBBY MUNSELL: I worked at a fast-food restaurant for a while when I was looking for a library job. I think that, even though it wasn’t my favorite job, it helped me learn how to deal with the public. I learned that it is important to be kind and patient with everyone, even the people who are obviously in a really bad mood. In a fast-food restaurant, I was there to serve them the food they ordered. In a library, I am here to help them find the information they need.
NLC: What do you find most challenging in your library job?
LIBBY MUNSELL: As of right now, I am the “techie” of the staff. When there is a question related to computers or e-readers, I am generally the one that is asked to help or fix the problem. Most of the time, it is a simple fix such as entering a password or formatting a Word document. When I don’t know how to do something, it is challenging for me to figure out the answer. I think I utilize Google a lot more than people realize. There is almost always other people in the world who encounter the same problem and post their answers on the internet. Though it is a challenge to search for the right answers, I enjoy the challenge and feel accomplished when I can show a patron what I learned and make using technology easier for others.
NLC: Please share a story of how your library work has made a difference in the life of a library user.
LIBBY MUNSELL: I’ve had a couple one-on-one meetings with patrons who need help accessing Overdrive on the e-readers. I like to show them that I don’t always know how to do everything on every device, and if we work together we can solve the problem. I enjoy having conversations with them where I am helping them learn how to use their device and use our library at the same time. I can see that I make a difference when they tell me what they learned and leave the library with an e-reader full of books and a desire to come back. [Ed. note: Libby has shared other stories on the Nebraska Library Storybank, such as Interlibrary Loan Expands Paperback Collection and DVD Collection Expanded Through Interlibrary Loan.]
NLC: What does the future hold for libraries?
LIBBY MUNSELL: I think that libraries are still all about accessing and using information. In the future, libraries will have to follow the trend of digital and instant information to even reach the public. Libraries will be spaces for exploration and creation. I hope that the printed word doesn’t go away completely, but whether it does or not, libraries will still be relevant because librarians can provide the assistance to make finding information easier for patrons.
NLC: What does the future hold for librarians?
LIBBY MUNSELL: Librarians of the future will be flexible and eager to learn. Information and the way we access it is changing, so librarians need to be willing to change with the public so that they stay relevant in their communities. It comes down to community assessment—what are the community’s information needs and how can the library be useful?
NLC: What are you reading right now? What are your hobbies?
LIBBY MUNSELL: I’m reading Insurgent by Veronica Roth and The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller, both for pleasure. I also enjoy keeping up with food blogs, personal blogs, and library blogs. I love to read (of course!) and cook. Cooking is my way of unwinding from the day and taking a break from homework.
NLC: Please share a favorite quote, and why it’s your favorite.
LIBBY MUNSELL: “No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” I just came across this quote [by Atwood H. Townsend] a couple days ago in The Book Whisperer. It’s a new favorite because it’s true to my life. I need to find the time to read because it helps me grow. I learn new things, I understand myself and others better, and I can take a break from everything that worries me.