Meet one of OLA’s 5,000 members. An interview with random OLA member #21: Kimberley Christmas.
Kimberly Christmas is the new Manager of Virtual Services at Richmond Hill Public Library. Though a relatively recent library school graduate (2011), Kimberly has already held two previous library positions at Mohawk College and Edmonton Public Library. I spoke to Christmas just before Christmas.
OK, Kimberly Christmas, how do you mark this season?
Mostly I try to ignore it as much as possible.
Then let me start by asking you a couple of questions provided by my previous interviewee, Marilyn McDermott. What is your best advice for someone who is starting to knit?
YouTube is amazing for that. It’s hard to read about how to do a physical task like knitting but by watching YouTube you can slow it down, rewind, watch it again, and copy it.
Is that how you learned?
I learned by reading a book.
What’s your take on yarn bombing?
I’m not big on yarn bombing because it’s a waste of yarn. The thought of putting it on a tree doesn’t appeal to me. I use good quality yarn that knits up nice and looks nice, and people tell me they can’t tell my work is handmade.
Where do you knit?
At home. I download terrible shows on Netflix and knit to them. The best are the ones you don’t need to pay much attention to.
Marilyn’s second question is: Why do you love Toronto?
I like the energy of the city. I love the tall buildings and having lots of people around. Even on a quiet Sunday you can go out and look at the great architecture and there’s always something to do.
Are you from Toronto?
I’m from all over. I was born here and spent my childhood in Hamilton and I’ve lived all along the 401 from Windsor to Montreal.
As a Hamiltonian, I’m always curious to know, what’s the best thing about Hamilton?
I guess Westdale is sort of quaint. There’s an old movie theatre there. Locke Street has some tiny shops. Hamilton keeps sucking me back in. It seems every five years or so I end up back there.
I’m curious to know if the library profession was the only career path for you.
I never really thought about my career path. After I did an MA in English at the University of Windsor, I spent some years in an aimless search to figure out what I wanted to do with myself. A friend told me about her work in a library with archives and records management and it sounded interesting to me. I was already doing some records management in my job so I thought, why not move into a career where I can do more of the parts of my job I love? I have also always be involved in staff training and I continue to do that as a librarian.
Did you ever meet Alistair McLeod when you were in the English Department at Windsor?
I did! He came into one of my seminars and talked about his writing. One day after that he saw me in the hall and nodded his head and said, “Christmas.” I said hello and kept walking. What do you say? It’s Alistair McLeod!
Do you see yourself as a librarian—as core to your identity– or is this one job among many other possibilities?
I do feel like a librarian. I use a lot of the skills of a librarian, even though I am in management. It’s a good fit for me.
What’s been the most surprising thing about your career?
That I’m working in a public library. I thought I would be a special library person since working in a corporate environment was what I was used to before going to library school. Public libraries are all about helping people and that’s why I like it, even though I have actually had relatively little public service experience in the public library. I’ve always worked with technology.
Have you always enjoyed working with technology?
I’ve always played games and I had some experience recording a podcast, but I got more into technology in library school.
What was your podcast about?
A friend and I had a podcast called “How to be Awesome.” It ran for a year and a half or so. We had guests who talked about what they did that was awesome, like being an entrepreneur or running.
I thought it was strange that people actually wanted to listen to us. At one point we were high up on the rankings for lifestyle podcasts.
Do you believe that change is possible at any age?
I think so. Of course, it depends on what you’re trying to change. I’ve had a lot of change in my life. I move all the time and I always makes sure things are changing. I am an early adopter and I look for new projects to do and new skills to learn. For example, I just moved from Edmonton and work is brand new, where I live is new, and my commute is new to me.
How do you challenge yourself (besides the small things like taking on new job opportunities, moving cities, etc.)?
I have high expectations for myself and I set goals and do my best to meet them, so I’m always challenging myself. Except for this morning when I set my alarm to go for a run and didn’t do that. It’s hard when it’s dark and cold early in the morning—even if I do run in the gym in the basement of my building.
What’s your best non-marketable skill?
I’ve been told I’d make a good politician because I can answer a question with a non-answer really well if I want to.
How do you recharge?
It depends on what kind of day it’s been. I’ll go for a jog or do some kind of exercise, or if it’s been an exhausting day, I’ll sit down on my couch for some quiet time. The commute is nice because I can read a YA novel and let things go.
Have you ever levitated?
If only! That would be amazing, but I do not have that power.
Have you ever meditated?
I’m not a meditator. People tell me I should slow down but I never do.
Ever had lucid dreams?
I don’t know. I don’t think so.
Finally, let’s talk about cupcakes.
I used to decorate cupcakes but since I don’t like to eat them, I’d bring them into work and people seemed to like them. From there, I started a small business on the side called Craftedcupcakes by Kim.
Can you give us a teaser about the next OLA member you’ve picked to be interviewed for this column?
I think of Megan Copp as a life-loving librarian who works for one of the most innovative and creative libraries in Ontario, Innisfil Public Library (my humble opinion). She is always quick to point me in the right direction if I have a question about the awesome that is going on in her library if she doesn’t know the answer herself.
Robin Bergart is a User Experience Librarian at the University of Guelph Library. The Random Library Generator column interviews OLA members; the current interviewee was selected by the previous interviewee.