RUSA - STARGazing: Meet Heather Weltin
1. What are your job title & institutional affiliation?
Facilitator for Cooperative Sharing & Storage at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
It is a mouthful, but basically I oversee Interlibrary Loan and storage for UW-Madison.
2. What’s your OCLC / Docline symbol?
3. What would the title of your autobiography be?
Shhhh is a Dirty Word
To me, the word “Shhhh” is like nails on a chalkboard and it is contradictory to how we have all changed from that old stereotype and how we operate today. There is no need to shush people in the library and how it is used and should be used!
4. How did you get involved in resource sharing (or access services, etc.)?
As an undergraduate student at UW-Madison, I applied for any and all jobs in the library. Eventually, I was hired in the ILL Borrowing Office and the rest is history. I continued to work in that same office through undergrad, graduate school, and became Head of Interlibrary Loan in 2007. I guess you could say, I fell in love hard with the various aspects of resource sharing, especially the hunt for that one elusive title that will make your patron’s day.
5. What are you passionate about? How does that passion inform your work?
I am really passionate about laughing and having fun. I loathe the days when I can’t even crack a smile, which face it, we all experience at some points in our lives.
I try to make sure the people working with me laugh each day and are generally having a good time. I am no fool! I know I can’t make other people have fun, but if I can try and bring a smile to someone’s face, my work day has been a success.
6. What do you feel are the benefits of your STARS membership, and why would you encourage others to get involved?
STARS has really taught me how to be the resource sharing librarian I am today. Through the education opportunities, outreach, and/or communication, I have learned so much. When I think back to when I first began, before STARS existed, it was difficult to build connections, or gain breadth on a particular resource sharing topic unless you were able to go to conferences. STARS combines the best of both worlds! Even if you can’t make the conferences, you can participate virtually, and be an active resource sharing community member. Everyone is valued and an asset no matter what their mode of participation is.
7. What do you wish you’d known when you started out in resource sharing (access services, etc.)?
There is so much to list, but I will focus on the two most challenging aspects I discuss with a lot of new resource sharing librarians. You need to practice reference skills to get the job done. So much of our day-to-day is finding that one item for that one patron. Without reference skills, this is impossible. I never expected I would need to know so many databases, searching techniques and more when I started out.
The other thing would be reporting. ILL is based on reports and what I once heard referred to as the “ILL Trifecta.” ILL is built upon how many, how much it costs, and how fast. You need to run a lot of reports to make this happen. I wish someone would have sat me down and forced me to learn reporting programs, or familiarized me more with OCLC reports. It takes a lot of analyzing data to run a resource sharing operation.
8. How has your STARS membership helped you do your job?
Connections-Connections-Connections. Resource sharing is built upon cooperation. My STARS membership and activity has provided opportunities to build connections across the U.S. and globe. It has helped me learn about new programs in resource sharing, along with developing lifelong colleagues and friends. Ever have problems getting something? Call the person you just met at ALA, or chatted with via our listserv.
9. What are you reading?
The question should be what aren’t you reading since I go through a book a week on average (I car pool to work and never drive!). I am currently reading “American Dervish” by Ayad Akhtar and just finished “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple. I would recommend them both.
10. Share your favorite fun fact about yourself
I once watched an entire Pat Benatar concert next to Amy Ray from the Indigo Girls.