My Job in 5: Jennifer Conroy
1) Describe your role
As director, I am responsible for ensuring access to information for all patrons who use the library. Living in a municipality of 5,000 residents, I oversee all aspects of a public library: I am HR, Employee Management, Payroll, Collection Development, Facilities Management, Financial Administrator and Employee Management. That said, it is my job to hire the best people possible—those with excellent customer service skills, an understanding of the public library’s important influence in our society and a belief that we’re capable of furthering positive societal change, and of course a great work ethic.
2) What do you like best about your role?
I’m providing an open space for all. The idea that with the right knowledge and tools, I can offer this community a way to empower themselves and thrive in different ways. Collection Development has been a favorite throughout my career as a librarian, and now since I deal with things like plumbing and repaving parking lots, I consider it a wonderful respite during those times.
In my previous role of Youth Services Librarian—I can safely say that storytime with the little ones was my favorite aspect of the job. The public library’s role in early literacy is very special part of what we offer within a community. Thankfully I am technically still a part of this as I direct staff to include these programs in this newer director role.
3) Which new projects or titles are you working on at the moment?
As the grant writer, I’m currently seeking funding for six new public computers, and additional money for the restoration and digitization of the hundreds of Rock Hill photos we have and would like to both display as well as keep a reference database of Rock Hill memorabilia—fulfilling many patrons’ wishes.
4) What skills do you need for your role?
First and foremost, a deep understanding of library ethics and the library’s evolving role within our communities. Important skills also include good communication, the art of delegation, and the ability to connect with and motivate staff to create a welcome and open environment for all patrons.
Listening, observing, statistical analysis, and directly surveying patrons allows you to meet your library community's specific needs, which is important to support the library's mission. And although this position requires that I be in my office 75% of my time here, I still aspire to maintain my good customer service skills.
5) What advice would you give those looking to work in the industry
Before paying for a secondary degree in Masters in Library Science, and depending on what route you want to take in the library world (public, university, specialty), consider whether you need it or if your on-the-job learned skills, coupled with an undergraduate degree is enough to get a good job in the field. Remember that a public library is constantly evolving and there are endless possibilities of the services we can provide. As a librarian, you get to create a space open to all, and you have the opportunity, the responsibility, to provide access to information.