Meet one of OLA’s 5,000 members. An interview with random OLA member #27: Aaron DeVries. I…
Meet one of OLA’s 5,000 members. An interview with random OLA member #23: Megan Copp.
I sat down with Megan during the OLA SuperConference, in the Metro Convention Centre lobby, as streams of people who’d just seen Jane Pratt walked past.
Why don’t we start by you telling me about the presentation that you did this year at OLA.
I did a presentation on social objects with one of my coworkers in the library. She has a background in museums, so she has the line on some of the cool innovative stuff that’s happening with museums and she also saw Nina Simon talk last year at OLA, and she’s doing some awesome stuff in libraries down in the U.S. so that’s what our presentation stemmed from because we started to focus more at our library on consciously using social objects.
What are social objects?
Your ideaLab makerspace is very cool. What is the most surprising thing that’s happened in the ideaLab?
We made connections with this guy who’s hacked an XBox connect and does 3D scans of people, which is huge in the cosplay world, where people want action figures of themselves in their costume. He’s done wedding toppers as well, so exact replicas of the bride and groom. And we’ve got artists who have embraced the laser cutter and vinyl cutter that we have to incorporate elements done on those machines in their art.
I saw online, and I’m really jealous about this, that you guys have open mic nights.
Yes! Aaron DeVries, my co-manager at the ideaLab, said a few years ago why don’t we have an open mic? We had a group of slightly more problematic teens frequenting the space, and we wanted to think of a way to relate to them that was positive. So they could come into the library and be successful. The open mic nights have morphed into this jam session where community members come out and jam together.
Have you ever performed at the open mic night?
I have. My coworker Deb and I are huge fans of the show Community. There’s one Christmas episode where they are claymation and they sing this song about Christmas and Deb and I did that as a duet one year.
And how did this go over?
It was pretty well received. And the other song I did with a group at open mic night was Don’t Stop Believing by Journey because you just have to sing that song.
Are you someone who has stage fright?
A little bit, but it’s like, who cares? I make a fool of myself at the library all the time, and in promotional material too.
Who would be the best person to see in the audience when you’re giving a library presentation?
My mom. I could trust that she could tell me honestly how I did.
I love the Innisfil Public Library’s library cards. Which one do you have?
I don’t want to learn a new number. My card number is really easy because it has a lot of zeros in it, so I don’t want to get myself a new one. But I love the Pleasure Your Shelf card because it’s punny, and because we (all staff) came up with all of those slogans in a marketing workshop and that one actually got through.
I’m surprised it did, to be honest!
I know. It went to the board, and the board said yes. And I love that they were like, “Yes, you wild animals, yes! Let’s use that one!”
Now for some random questions… What’s the next skill you’d like to develop?
I’d kinda like to learn how to row. In Barrie, where I’m living, there’s a rowing club (because we’re on Lake Simcoe) and last year I had sent to my significant other a link to their Learn To Row seminars. I lived in Melbourne for a while and had thought I should learn how to row there too, but then we bought a house so we didn’t do it last summer.
What were you doing in Melbourne?
Travelling after my undergrad. I did my undergrad in Social Work.
You’re the second librarian I’ve met today at OLA who did their undergrad in Social Work.
Wow, really? Well after I did my undergrad I wanted to run away and not be a grown up. The Olympics had just been in Sydney and it had looked really cool, and Ian Thorpe’s really pretty… so I figured I might as well go.
Do you see any connections between the two fields – social work and librarianship?
Absolutely. You have to be able to talk to people regardless of what kind of library you’re in. You have to be able to listen. I remember sitting in one of the required reference courses while taking my MLIS and putting my hand up and saying, “So this is basically social work.” It was active listening, and looking out for all the other clues–including non-verbal–to figure out what they want. They have the answer, they know what they want. But you have to draw it out of them. Totally social work.
What do you think is unique to public librarians? Maybe an issue, a skill?
There are lots of transferrable skills, but public librarians have to deal with a really broad range of needs. You’re dealing with people who are under-resourced, people with mental health issues, children, empty nesters, grandparents. Managing those diverse people and needs all at the same time is a public librarian thing.
Are you married? Engaged?
When are you getting married?
Maybe I shouldn’t ask that?
Well we got a house, so now we have no money. So we will get married when I have a garage.
Does he “get” libraries?
Yes does. He’s not really a library user, but he’s a reader. He’s also a gamer. And one of the collections I oversee is our video game collection and one of the reasons I was given that collection is because I have a gamer at home.
Does he understand how cool that is?
Yeah! There have been games that he’s asked me to bring home for him so he can test them out before he buys them or so he can play them with friends without having to buy them.
One of the many perks of being engaged to a librarian! The next time someone is in the Innisfil area, what are some restaurants they should check out?
There’s the Fork and Plate, they do good home cooked stuff. There is Pasta Plus, right up the road from the library. Go there when you’ve got time to go there and watch the show. Because the guy who owns the place is hilarious. Watching him interact with his wife, Nancy, and all of the other customers is amazing.
What is the last thing you learned how to do?
I really feel like if we have something in the library, I have to have at least a passing understanding of how it works. So I sat down with the laser cutter to learn how to make something. I made coasters shaped like animals for my friends as Christmas presents.
What’s the best superhero movie?
All the Marvel stuff. Hands down.
Have you read the new Ms. Marvel comic?
Not yet. My fiancé is really excited about it, though.
Can you tell us about Dina, the next interviewee?
She’s my library school soulmate. We met the first day and I was listening to all these people saying they’re all from the GTA. And there was a guy from North Bay, there’s me from Orillia and then this girl, Dina, from Woodbridge. We became inseparable. And her husband was roommates in university with Dave, who will be my husband.
So it was meant to be!
I believe there’s a reason things happen. I was meant to do the social work thing, I was meant to do the travelling thing, and it all brought me to a job where I get to do super cool stuff. And even on days when a customer chews you out, and the photocopier won’t stop jamming, it’s still the best job I’ve ever had.
Someone will have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.
Adele Georgievski is a Teaching and Learning Technologies Librarian at Seneca College. The Random Library Generator column interviews OLA members; the current interviewee was selected by the previous interviewee.