As the newest member of the Chasing Reference blog, allow me to introduce myself: I’m Don Boozer, and I currently serve as the coordinator for Ohio’s statewide virtual reference service, KnowItNow24x7.
My first library job was as a Library Assistant at the Hershey Public Library when it was on Granada Ave, literally right across a parking lot from the chocolate factory. When I was at Hershey, the director encouraged me to consider making a career out of being a librarian. I discovered that librarianship opened up the option of constantly learning new things, sharing that knowledge with others, and being part of a larger profession. When we moved to Ohio near Kent and found that Kent State had the only library school in the state, I took that as a sign.
My first job as a pro librarian right out of library school was at Barberton Public Library, a mid-sized public library in northeast Ohio, as a reference/teen/jack-of-all-trades librarian.
Prior to my current appointment, I was a reference librarian in the Literature Department at Cleveland Public Library.
As the coordinator of a statewide initiative, I have the fortunate opportunity to see library service from a broad perspective and how each library is essential to the whole. These past two weeks, I was on the road a lot. First, to a spring meeting of a K-12 school librarian organization in south-central Ohio. I presented information on KnowItNow24x7 and then provided a tutorial on efficient and practical uses of Google and Wikipedia. The attendees were very receptive, and one retiring school librarian expressed interest in staffing our service as a volunteer. Being primarily involved with “virtual” service, it is always gratifying to be able to interact with people in-person.
My second trip was to give a training session at the University of Rio Grande (That’s “Rye-O” rhymes with “Ohio”). I met some great librarians, found another library interested in volunteering staff time to the service, and got to eat at the original Bob Evans Restaurant.
Being a statewide coordinator also gives me the opportunity to be an ambassador of sorts, both for our specific virtual reference project but also for virtual services and resources in general. Talking about Google and Wikipedia and seeing people’s eyes light up when you talk about sorting Images by color to get that “book with a blue cover” is priceless. Talking about the differences between two different language versions of a Wikipedia article and why this is potentially important and seeing people nod in agreement is rewarding. Getting people excited about using the invaluable statewide databases we have here in Ohio gives you a sense of accomplishment. Sharing this kind of information with librarians makes them better able to provide quality service on KnowItNow24x7 but also equips them to share this same information with their patrons.
Every librarian in every library has the potential to see those eyes light up and get those nods of agreement. Continuing to engender that sense of wonder and curiosity (and, in my case, providing an avenue through virtual reference for people to come to us for help with their questions) is one of the great things about being a librarian.
I look forward to blogging with the “Reference Chasers” and want to thank them for welcoming me aboard! 🙂