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 purchase English adult books (print, digital and audio), film, music, databases and patron suggestions.

Describe a typical workday?

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

  • Check emails.
  • Modify schedule sequence and room layout for upcoming “Special Event” to be held on Saturday.
  • Quick review of « first proof » for Winter 2019 program.
  • Cancel one database contract
  • Review offerings in “Conseil des Arts de Montréal en-tournée” for the Fall 2019 season.
  • Sign up for a webinar (“Benchmarking and Longitudinal Studies).
  • Quick call to check references of potential candidate for a future workshop.
  • Write some procedures on how to operate sound system in multimedia room.
  • Meet with a librarian to get update on weekly objectives. Do staff replacements at Information desk. Prepare for next week’s team meeting.
  • Meet with a new animator at end of her workshop.
  • Collection development ( buy books, music, DVDs)
  • 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 so many books and film and then seeing people enjoy them. I love that my day is never the same. I love having the opportunity to interact with so many interesting people.

Do you have a favourite work related anecdote?

I have had a lot of fun over the years organizing conferences and meeting people (speakers and attendees!). This story may not be my favourite anecdote, but it sure lingers in my memory.

A high-profile author had been invited to speak at the library. After scrambling to settle a few requests before his visit, he finally arrived at the airport. Everything seemed ready for that evening’s “meet and greet” followed by a discussion led by a local journalist. Unexpectedly, the journalist cancelled two hours before the event. I realized that I would have to conduct the interview at the same moment that I regretted not finding the time to finish reading the author’s book.

The evening did not start off well. After navigating a tense “meet and greet” in which the author failed to engage with people, he read a passage from his book, and we began the interview.

This story has a happy ending. The journalist had generously emailed her questions to me. They were great icebreakers, and the aloof author responded with warmth, honesty and perceptiveness. The evening actually turned out to be wonderful. It was memorable – for more than a few reasons!




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