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Melanie Parlette-Stewart

Meet one of OLA’s 5,000 members. An interview with random OLA member #29: Melanie Parlette-Stewart.

I spoke with Melanie right before the Winter break so the holidays were on our mind. I have met and worked with Melanie previously at an eLearning conference so conversation was easy – even if it was 8 in the morning when we spoke.

Melanie Parlette-Stewart
Melanie Parlette-Stewart

How was the eLearning Symposium? Were you presenting?

I was! I was a member of the organizing committee and coordinated the Birds of a Feather discussion with Kelly Dermody from Ryerson and did a Twine workshop with a colleague from Guelph. Twine is free, open source, choose your own adventure tool.

How are you guys using it at Guelph?

We mainly started using Twine to help deal with the questions we were getting about citation managers (which one to choose, etc.). After we found out that we weren’t going to be supporting RefWorks anymore and lots of faculty and students needed to choose a new tool, we used Twine to help them pick the right tool for their needs. Right now we’re working on using to help students identify source types.

What’s the best thing that’s happened for you this week?

We decorated our Christmas tree last night! It was the first time having a real tree as a grown-up. It’s so beautiful, I’m pretty excited about it.

Are you really into Christmas?

I’m not really, but my husband’s family gets so pumped about it that now I’m on board, it’s contagious.

Do you have any new year’s resolutions?

I always try to read 50 books a year, so I’ll probably try to do that again. I always try to commit to getting up earlier too…

I always have the same resolutions – I always want to swear less.

That’s a good one! I should have that one, too.

I wanted to ask you about your awesome tumblr, What the Librarian Wore.

Sure! It’s a fun project although sometimes it feels like pressure! I feel like I have to be always coming up with creative outfit combinations – but I enjoy it! But sometimes it can lead to odd things, like random friends of my parents will tell them “I saw what Melanie is wearing today!”



That sounds creepy without the context that they’re reading your blog!

Exactly! I really enjoy fashion and clothes, since long before I was a librarian. I started the blog to keep a record of my fashion choices. I look at it as a creative process. I guess it was very “librarian” of me in a way because I wanted to document / archive things. I love receiving submissions, I’ve had librarians all over the United States send me their outfits. I also recruit my friend who’s a law librarian, and my sister who is also a librarian.

Do you have any fashion blogs that you like to read?

I love whowhatwear and alterations needed but I’ve been looking at Instagram a lot more for inspiration lately. I love accounts like @krystin_lee and @notyourstandard.

Do you think libraries having Instagram accounts can be useful?

We’ve been thinking about that lately at our library. We’ve been doing way less with Facebook, we’re still really active on Twitter, and now we’re exploring Instagram. It’s pretty awesome because the students are really engaging with us on that platform. It’s tough though, you and I are not that much older than the students but sometimes it’s like they’re speaking a different language. You have to find out a way to communicate with them in a way that’s authentic and feels natural but still appropriate to be coming from the library. I remember during my first internship they wanted me to post a “reference book of the week” to our Facebook page and it just didn’t work.

Have you seen Awful Library Books?

Yes, that is amazing!

Have you read anything good lately?

I wasn’t a big fan of it, but I read Black Lies, Red Blood by Kjell Eriksson. It’s a Scandinavian mystery. I was really into the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series so it’s made me seek out other Scandinavian authors.

Have you read Burial Rites by Hannah Kent? It’s set in Iceland.

Oh I’ll have to add that one to my list!

Are you presenting at OLA this year?

I’m doing two presentations. One on our UofG Gryph Reads pleasure reading collection called “Breaking the Mould: Leisure Reading – Not Just for Public Libraries Anymore.” And I’m also doing one called “Own Your Online Identity: Curating Your Professional Online Presence.” I love using your online self as a tool for figuring out your professional self. My tumblr has been helpful at helping me figure out how I can carve out where I fit within librarianship and be myself in such a diverse profession. I also do mind-mapping at conferences which is a fun way to share and network on social media.


I love your mind maps! I’ve seen them being retweeted tons!

Yeah! So doing that and the blog has helped me network and show my personality a bit. It’s been a neat way for me to make connections with people as someone who gets freaked out by the idea of “networking”. Like a lot of people talk about, sometimes I feel a bit of imposter syndrome.

Same here! I think it happens to all of us.

I need to be more confident.

Perfect, that can be our new year’s resolution! *laughs*

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.

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