Name: Deborah Mills
Job Title: Chief Cataloguer (E.P. Taylor Research Library and Archives, Art Gallery of Ontario)
Description of unique interest/hobby: Working backstage and making props for a community theatre group
What is the most rewarding thing about your hobby?
My hobby working with a community theatre group lets me indulge both my creative side (making props and dressing sets) and my organizational side (organizing things backstage and during rehearsals). Plus, I get to see lots of talented people put on great shows!
What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
Helping people find the information they need, especially through the information I put in my cataloging records which appear in the library computer catalogue.
How your professional life informs your recreational life?
I often astound my theatre colleagues at how easily I find information, whether it be what clothing looked like in the 16th century or the meaning of a cryptic line in a play!
What do librarians/you do all day?
I catalogue the new books that come into the library: that is, I create the records you see in the computer catalogue which describe the book and make it “findable”, both in the computer catalogue and on the shelf.
Is every librarian doing the same thing?
Not at all! There are dozens of different library careers, and most are behind the scenes, not at the Information Desk! Librarians have to decide which books to buy, liason with the booksellers, handle financial accounts, organize the books that come in, help readers find information, find articles in magazine databases, program the library’s computers, design websites, create programs for the public, the list goes on!
How often do you shelve books?
Librarians don’t shelve books, as their expertise is needed in managing the library and its staff. Shelving is done by clerical staff, and is done every day.
How often do you do office work?
I do very little office work. I collate monthly statistics for the library, and a couple of times a year I have to draw up a budget and order supplies.
Do you work at the public desk all day?
I work at the public desk once a month. It is a useful exercise, as you get to know what your researchers are working on and any problems they are having finding information. I sometimes make changes to the library computer catalogue records after getting feedback from the public, to make things clearer and easier to find. It’s always good to look at things from the customer’s point of view.
How boring is your job?
My job is not boring at all, in fact it can be quite hectic! In addition to my main job in cataloguing art books, I also have to help researchers find the information they need. Librarians have a wealth of knowledge about their collections, which is often only in their own memories, so they are invaluable at making suggestions. I also oversee 6 volunteers and students, who I have to train and supervise.
Is what you do satisfying?
If you like to help people, and solve questions, then library work is very satisfying. I also have a sense that what I am doing and building in this library will help people find information well into the future.
Are you so bored that you have to find a crazy hobby to keep your life interesting?
Well, as I said I am certainly not bored at work! In fact I find my hobby to be a relaxing change from work, although it can be crazy and very time-consuming. When I take time off from the library to do my plays it’s like going to a second job!
Are librarians private about everything?
Actually, I don’t think librarians are private at all! Most libraries work under a code of “intellectual freedom”, which means that they believe that information should be available to everyone and that a library should not be biased but should present all points of view and should not practice censorship.
Do you love reading?
Yes I do! And I’m lucky that my job entails looking through beautiful art books all day.
Do you need peace and quiet to work?
Personally I do need quiet to work, as I am doing data entry into the library computer catalogue, which requires a high level of accuracy. Also I am often reading books in non-English languages such as French, Dutch, and Italian, and need to concentrate in order to understand what the book is about!