RUSA - STARGazing: Meet Emily Batista
1. What is your institutional affiliation?
University of Pennsylvania
2. What’s your OCLC / Docline symbol?
3. What would be the title of your autobiography?
Beauty and Sadness. It’s the name of a song by the Smithereens, and it kind up sums up how I feel about the world in general, and about my life, particularly lately.
4. How did you get involved in resource sharing (or access services, etc.)?
By accident! I planned to be a reference librarian, but was promoted to assistant director at my first job in order to manage an online circulation system migration, then was hired by another library as Head of Circulation Services to manage their migration. At Penn, I started as a Business Reference Librarian, but was invited to apply for the Head of Circulation position at Van Pelt Library, where, surprise, surprise, I managed another automated circulation system migration. I became Head of Access Services during a library reorganization and retained circulation as well as reserve services, along with others, in my portfolio. I’ve had several titles over the years! My systems work led to my being asked to oversee Penn’s implementation of ILLiad, and then I was asked to supervise the document delivery operations at the Biomedical Library, which I did for three years, and I then became Head of Resource Sharing Services at Van Pelt Library. I am now the Coordinator of Access Services and Resource Sharing Systems. I focus now on special projects and worked for two years as the Delivery Lead on the OLE project, and then as the training lead for our in-house Alma migration team.
5. What are you passionate about? How does that passion inform your work?
I am passionate about removing barriers for users. I advocated for longer loan periods, longer grace periods, unlimited checkouts, pickup anywhere service, self-renewals, integrated front end systems for users, and many similar policy and procedure changes, both locally and within the many groups with which I have been privileged to belong. In my systems work, I advocate for solutions that work across platforms, that talk to other systems, that save the users time and frustration. Here at Penn, I oversaw the first effort to coordinate loan periods across the 15 different circulation units on campus. It seems like a no-brainer now, but I inherited something like seven different “standard” loan periods when I became the coordinator for circulation systems for the entire library system.
6. What do you feel are the benefits of your STARS membership, and why would you encourage others to get involved?
I’ve had the opportunity to meet many students of library and information science over the years. Without fail, none of them had ever considered a career in access services or resource sharing. Most of them weren’t even aware of these fields, so, like most of us, people end up almost by accident being involved in these vital services. And that means we need a community where we can teach and learn from others, because we certainly didn’t learn about this in library school! STARS brings together people from all kinds of libraries and provides a forum where we can develop best practices and explore improved ways of serving our users. It’s also where we can meet people who share our passion for our field and offer each other condolences as needed!
7. What do you wish you’d known when you started out in resource sharing (access services, etc.)?
I knew almost nothing about either field as a beginning librarian, so where do I start? I suppose I wish I had known about the history and development of resource sharing services before I had to dive in and start using the various systems that currently exist. I wish I had a stronger background in information technology, because although I understand concepts like Z39.50 and NCIP in principle, I don’t know enough to implement solutions to problems. And if I had known how exciting this field was, and how many great people are involved in it, I might have gravitated to it much earlier in my career.
8. How has your STARS membership helped you do your job?
STARS has helped by providing standards as well as aspirational goals for improving services, but most importantly, a community of like-minded very cool, very smart people.
9. What are you reading?
For my book group, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. It’s a work of fiction about the death of the Lincolns’ son.
10. Share your favorite fun fact about yourself
I started taking figure skating lessons at the age of 40, not realizing that I would totally fall in love with the sport. I’ve competed in precision team skating (now called Synchronized Team skating), ice dancing, and individual events, including once at Adult Nationals.