Meet one of OLA’s 5,000 members. An interview with random OLA member #24: Dina Stevens.
I spoke with Dina on a chilly February morning.
What are you up to today?
I just got a surprise shift, so I’m just getting ready for work.
Okay, I’ll make this snappy! What kind of stuff are you going to do at work today?
I’m a youth services librarian so every day is extremely varied. For example, yesterday I taught staff how to teach people how to code, then I did a kids’ book club in the evening.
Do you travel to different branches a lot?
Yeah, and I like it a lot. I’m kind of like a library tourist. I’m always at other branches. And I recently opened my own branch.
What was that like?
It was the single most stressful experience of my life. We started with an empty building, and staff who didn’t know each other. We got to the building and it was completely empty. Contractors were still working on putting the locks on the doors. In a week we had to clean the place up, shelve every single book. It ended up being a great team-building exercise.
Do you have any new favourite regulars?
Oh yes. There is one little kid who comes in every day after school with his caregiver and his younger siblings and he drives us nuts. We have board games that you can sign out to use in the library. Every five minutes he wants to switch games.
Every five minutes, he’ll come up and say “Can I have Blockus now?” Five minutes later: “Can I have Monopoly Jr?” Five minutes later …
So a little birdie told me to ask you about your days of hustling pizza dough.
Oh no. Oh no. Ummm … Oh my goodness.
Does it bring back good memories?
Okay, so I come from a very culturally Italian neighbourhood, and when I moved to London for my MLIS there was no fresh pizza dough. I didn’t have a car; I wasn’t mobile; and I just really wanted some carbohydrates.
Well, who doesn’t?
It’s stressful doing a Master’s degree … I just needed some carbs. So I walked to a pizza shop and basically just convinced the store owner to give me some pizza dough.
And they just gave it to you?
Yeah, he didn’t even have a container or anything to give it to me. He said “I’ve never done this before. Please don’t come back and sue me because you ate raw pizza dough from my store.” He didn’t even charge me. I think I just looked so sad, and so stressed out and pathetic that he just wanted to get rid of the crazy girl in his store who was begging for pizza dough. I still think about that night from time to time and wonder if he ever thinks of me.
How was the pizza when you eventually made it?
It was the most satisfying pizza I have ever eaten in my entire life.
How important is being a librarian to your identity?
I have a lot of other interests, but they’re all librarian-esque. Just recently, I taught myself to crochet.
I like that it’s a librarian stereotype. I’m teaching myself how to knit.
I’m a very stereotypical librarian. I have two cats; I crochet.
Do you wear cardigans? Because I’m currently sporting a pink cardigan.
No, but I have the black, large rimmed glasses. But I also have a lot of other things that I like to do. I’m not all about the library world all the time. My husband is also an engineer and he’s not all about the library world, so…
I feel like that’s a common profession for husbands of librarians.
I think in my library system, seven staff have engineers for spouses. Someone needs to do a study about why this is.
What is the last book you recommended to someone?
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
Liking Neil Gaiman is definitely another librarian stereotype!
Caption: Dina dressed as a librarian for Hallowe’en.
Did you ever want to try a different type of librarianship or are you happy in the public library system?
When I started I wanted to be a cataloguer, then an archivist, then work in a hospital library. But that’s me – I want to do everything. At once. All the time. I just want to do all the things. But I do love my job.
One day I want to do an interview with a librarian who hates their job. It’s nice that we all love our jobs but I want to meet someone who absolutely hates theirs.
I can give you the name of someone I know who hates their job. When you want that person, come back to me. Just don’t tell them I told you.