In the Shoes of … Mary Jane, Manager – Reference and Adult Programming

Hundreds of persons have attended conférences, workshops, book clubs, films, special events and more, all organized under the supervision of Mary Jane.  In addition to her work managing the reference service and the development of the library’s collection, she is always looking for new activities to bring to the Library.

What are your main responsibilities?

I supervise a team of reference librarians ; together with the team, we create and implement a diverse range of activities for adults.  I also select for purchase English adult fiction and non-fiction books (including electronic and audio), film, music, databases and receive patron suggestions.

Describe a typical workday?

My work day can be quite varied, so this is what I did yesterday:

  • Check emails and deal with any immediate issues.
  • Modify schedule sequence and room layout for upcoming “Special Event” to be held on Saturday. I.e. “Reminder” email to speakers, put aside cash for book sale, asked for a poster to be made, spoke to staff involved, checked reservations. Prepared opening speech. Draft new evaluation forms for same event.
  • Quick review of first “proof” for Winter 2019 program.
  • Cancel one database contract in order to allow budget for planned new database purchase in 2019.
  • Read five pages of cultural offerings from “Conseil des Arts de Montréal en-tournée” for the Fall 2019-Spring 2020 season.
  • Sign up for a webinar on “Benchmarking and Longitudinal Studies: How to Measure Outcome Data Over Time.
  • Quick call to a colleague at another library to discuss references of potential candidate for a possible future workshop.
  • Finish writing procedures for how to operate projector/sound system in multimedia room.
  • Meet with one reference librarian to get update on her weekly progress. Do staff replacements at Information desk. Prepare for next week’s team meeting.
  • Meet with a new animator at end of her class to see how she is adapting. Discover that we need a different book for December’s class. Arrange for a change of inter-library loan requests.
  • Select books for purchase using professional magazines (can be ebooks or audiobooks). Also bought a few DVDs and music CDs. Handled a few patron suggestions.
  • Organize my day for tomorrow.

What was your field of study?

Honour BA with a Major in English Literature and a Minor in Psychology; and a Master of Library and Information Studies.

What are important qualifications for your work?

Being creative, curious, flexible, organized, and detail-oriented without losing sight of the “big picture”, and able to manage multiple tasks at once.

What is your favourite part of the job?

I love being able to buy such a rich collection of books, film, and music and then seeing people enjoy them. I love that my day is never the same. I love having the opportunity to meet so many interesting people.

Do you have a favourite work related anecdote?

I have had a lot of fun interacting with the library’s invited speakers over the years. This story may not be my favourite anecdote, but it still lingers in my memory.

A high-profile author was invited to speak at the library. After scrambling to settle a few outlandish requests in order to guarantee a visit, the author arrived at the airport. Everything seemed ready for the evening’s “meet and greet” followed by a reading/ interview. Around 4:00 p.m., the author “interviewer” called to cancel. The dread knowing that I would have to replace her was amplified by the fact that I had not yet finished reading the author’s book.

The evening did not start off well. After navigating through a rather tense “meet and greet” in which the author refused to engage with people, we began the interview.

This story has a happy ending. The interviewer had graciously forwarded her questions to me. Her questions were great, and the aloof author eventually responded with warmth, honesty and perceptiveness. The evening actually turned out to be very interesting. It was memorable – for more than a few reasons!




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