Welcome to The Library IT Crowd, a column brought to you by the Ontario Library and Information Technology Association (OLITA). We showcase some of the great library professionals currently working with technology, get to know them, and share their experiences. We hope we can inspire you and shed some light on what goes on behind the scenes with library tech workers.
Your name: Marni Tam
Your title: Senior Services Specialist, eLearning
Where you work: Toronto Public Library (TPL)
1) Tell me a little bit about your role. What do you do at your library?
I work on a multi-module e-learning initiative called Let’s Learn Tech (LLT). Our goal is to facilitate online learning in technology so Torontonians can develop digital skills and competencies to participate in the modern workforce.
2) Is what you are currently doing different from what you initially envisioned when you applied for this job? If so, how?
I knew that I would work on e-learning projects when I started the position. I came on board when the Let’s Learn Tech project was in its inception stage, so I had a lot of autonomy to shape what my work would look like. Shaping my work was a very rewarding experience!
3) Tell me a bit about your background. What made you interested in libraries? In technology?
I was a very bookish child and a heavy library user growing up but had never considered library work a viable career option. I got into information science (or library science) by accident, actually—after finishing my degree in computer science, I realized that I didn’t want to work in the traditional tech sector. Someone I know was doing an MLIS at that time and that circumstance just opened my eyes to the possibilities.
4) What projects over the past year are you most proud of?
I worked on the web team at TPL for over six years and contributed to many technology projects. This is a difficult question to answer, but both the email-notification project and the Toronto Neighbourhood Book Lists are very memorable.
For years, our patrons had asked for email notifications on holds pickup and due dates, and we took our first steps to expand our communication channels by starting the email-notification project. The project is also our first attempt to develop in-house applications that connect to our integrated library system (ILS). A lot was at stake, and I found it very satisfying to see that project go live.
Many librarians love book lists, and we at TPL are the same. In 2014, I worked on a neighbourhood book list called Toronto in Literature, which maps a list of books that are set in Toronto. People love it!
5) What projects do you have on the horizon?
Earlier this year, we launched the first module of the initiative Let’s Learn Tech Online, and our next module, Let’s Learn Tech (LLT) Learning Circle, started in October 2018. I am very excited!
6) Do you partner with community groups or other organizations in your current position? If so, what are those partnerships like? Do you have ongoing projects with them?
The Let’s Learn Tech project would not have happened without partnership. Cisco Networking Academy offers platform and curriculum support, and we work with Toronto Employment and Social Services to make sure our program is reaching the right audience.
7) How do you think your library will change over the next 10 years?
The world is changing so fast, and the library is keeping pace with the evolving needs of our communities. I believe we will become even more of a community hub and a centre for learning than we ever were before!