Ashley is a Library Technician with the Learning & Instructional Services division at the W.A.C. Bennett Library at SFU. She graduated from the UFV LibIT program in 2009, and is a MLIS candidate in the University of Alberta online program. Ashley has Métis-settler heritage, and grew up on Stó:lō territory in the Fraser Valley; she uses she/her pronouns. When not working or studying, she can often be found curled up reading or playing Zelda with a cat or two in her lap.
What do you do in your job?
My job is pretty varied, which is one of the aspects I love. I spend a couple hours each day helping students and community members with their research or information questions, both in person at the WAC Bennett Library (SFU Burnaby), and on BC’s virtual chat AskAway. I also get to facilitate library/research workshops throughout the semester, primarily to undergraduate classes and classes at the Fraser International College. Beyond those, I do our Research Help Desk and AskAway scheduling (there are three Library Assistants in L&I [Learning and Instruction], plus co-op SLAIS students and Reference Librarians), work on projects – web editing, displays – and participate in library committees and task groups.
What’s one exciting thing you’ve worked on recently?
Since July 2018 I’ve been on the Decolonizing the Library Task Group, which has been amazing. It’s a huge undertaking, since we’re looking at both what the library can/should be doing for staff education and library practices.
Recently I helped with a display for trans rights. My role was to identify books – fiction and nonfiction – that were appropriate to include. Since this is an area I’m still learning about, I reached out to SFU’s Out On Campus folks who provided me with guidance on some of the items I found, and terminology.
What’s something important that one needs to know to be successful in your job?
This is a tough question, since everyone has different strengths and insights. For me, what’s helped is being flexible (deadlines change, you rarely get two questions on the same topic in a row at the desk), and good time management skills. Empathy is another, since students often come in when they’re stressed out or they don’t know how we can help. Some have a lot of anxiety around libraries and assignments, and it’s up to us to help them through that with no judgements.
What’s something unique or unusual about your library / campus community?
I know that I’ve said this before, but I’m going to again! My education as a library technician made me wary of how librarians would welcome me – or anyone with the diploma – into the workplace. However I’ve always felt valued and supported at SFU. Maybe it isn’t unique to everyone or every institution, but I think it often isn’t this way for library technicians.
Media recommendations: What is something you have enjoyed lately?
This semester I’ve been commuting from Burnaby to UBC once a week, so have had a lot of time to read on the bus. Some of my favourites so far have been Cherie Dimaline’s Empire of Wild, Hazel Jane Plante’s Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian), and Alicia Elliott’s A Mind Spread out on the Ground. Tegan & Sara’s new album, Hey I’m Just Like You, has been stuck in my head for days, and the docu-drama series Chernobyl was incredible.
Getting to Know… is a regular column by the British Columbia Academic Libraries Section (BCALS) that profiles academic library workers from around the province. If you would like to be featured, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org