Monday, October 01, 2007

Hildy Dworkin, Solo Librarian

On July 16, 2007, Carol Simon brought in Hildy Dworkin to speak with the class about solo librarianship. Hildy works as the Library Director at the NYC Human Resources Administration's McMillan Library, which is a government library. I was particularly interested in Hildy's saying that being a librarian was her second career after ten years as a second and third grade teacher. She graduated from Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Science in 2000. She revealed that completing her Masters Degree was a five-year work. Her thesis subject was Public welfare. Her Bachelor's Degree was in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. Originally she was involved in music performance.

After 30 years of operation, the McMillan Library had been closed in 1995. Hildy's first task was to reopen the library with more than 20,000 holdings in August of 1999. There are 16,000 employees in New York City government and only one librarian. As a solo librarian, Hildy has a staff of 1 intern. She joined the Special Libraries association (SLC) and their Solo Division to seek out mentors. She currently is the SLA Solo Division Listserv Manager.

Hildy also was a speaker at SLA 2007 for a round table presented by the Government Information Division on the topic Government Librarians Get Savvy, which is reported as follows: Government Info Pro, SLA's Government Information Division, and Libraryola.

In opening a library, you need top approval for everything you do. You cannot use non-public information. You have to get into your publications. You need an Information Management proposal and automation software.

You have to be constantly educating people on what the library has and how it can be of service. Something should be in every newsletter. Offer library research seminars demonstrating important research tools and techniques that will assist staff in their research. Librarians have to market their services and their profession at the same time to increase people's awareness of your services. Hildy told of using the Administration's communication department to create a distinctive library brand, including a logo for the library's website and bookmarks to insert in checked out books. The bookmarks included the librarian's contact information, a brief description of library services, and hours of operations.

Be open to all opportunities. Even requests for help that are outside the immediate focus of the library will provide networking opportunities that will often have big payoffs later. Assisting with fact checking, editing, and offering the use of the library space will serve to increase appreciation for the library and its services. Solo librarians are constantly challenged to demonstrate their worth and value to their organizations. She developed network connections through face-to-face reference interviews with clients, sponsoring training sessions, attending meetings, and accepting new responsibilities that benefit the organization. Always be on the lookout for how to provide the staff with the information they need to do their jobs.

And, yes, Hildy loves her job!

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