Member Spotlight: Ariana Santiago

Member Spotlight: Ariana Santiago

Q: Tell us about your current position and what you do on a typical day - or is there such a thing as a typical day?

I'm currently an Instruction Librarian at the University of Houston. I actually just started here in January of this year, so I don't know yet exactly what a typical day will look like (although I don't think there will be a very consistent "typical day"). In the past few weeks I've spent an increasing amount of time observing other librarians' instruction sessions, familiarizing myself with the information literacy curriculum here, and team-teaching before I teach on my own.

A lot of my time will be spent delivering face-to-face instruction, planning for and developing said instruction, and other projects in between. For example, some things I've been involved in so far are investigating workshops for graduate students, and developing an information literacy curriculum for an undergraduate biology lab.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of working as a librarian?

My favorite part is probably the people: colleagues, students, faculty/instructors, and the librarians I've met all over the country. I also really like the variety from day to day--I might be in a meeting, collaborating with colleagues, working alone at my desk, or teaching information literacy sessions. I like doing a little bit of everything. Lastly, without getting too cheesy about it, I love that there are so many passionate people doing great things throughout all areas and types of libraries.

Q: How did you decide on the information profession for your career? Was it meticulously planned or a happy accident?

It was definitely a happy accident. I got a bachelor's degree in anthropology, with absolutely no plans as to what I would do with it. Fortunately, I worked in my university's library for four years as a student assistant. After graduating and working as a legal assistant plus a handful of other odd jobs for a while, I thought back to those awesome times working in the library and decided to apply for an MLIS program.

One of the "odd jobs" I had also helped me realize that this was the career for me. The job title was "data entry contractor," and I was basically cataloging decades' worth of VHS, Beta, and cassette tapes. The guy I worked for owned a company that had recorded seminars and conferences since the 70's--he would record the sessions and sell the tapes to attendees. There were probably over a hundred boxes of these tapes. We didn't listen to them at that time, but entered metadata into a homegrown database going off of information that was on the tapes themselves, any pamphlets or papers in the boxes with them, and whatever he remembered about the particular event.

It was a short gig, but I really enjoyed it. I didn't know it at the time, but it involved many aspects of librarianship. When I decided to pursue an MLIS, other pieces fell into place and it just all made sense.

Q: When/how did you first get involved with NMRT? What impact has your service to NMRT had on your involvement with ALA?

I joined ALA sometime during 2012, which was towards the end of my MLIS program. As a new member, it seemed natural that I should join the New Members Round Table! Joining NMRT helped me learn about and navigate "big ALA," which can be difficult to figure out at first.

My first involvement in NMRT was when I wrote a feature article for Footnotes in the February 2013 issue. Then I gained committee experience as a member of the Handbook Committee in 2013-14. This year I'm chairing that committee and am also on the President's Program Committee. Those have been great experiences so far, and now I'm getting more involved in ACRL, particularly the Instruction Section and the Residency Interest Group.

Q: What do you do for fun when you're not librarianing?

I'm a shameless, obsessive TV-watcher. I love getting into a really good TV show--or a really bad TV show! Other things I do for fun sometimes: running, small crochet projects, puzzles.

Q: Do you have any advice for NMRT members who are current students or recent graduates?

Get involved! Everyone says it, and for good reason. Find some way to actively participate in the profession, whether that's through NMRT, other divisions of ALA, your state library association, your student association, etc. I've gained so much through the connections I've made in this field--not only collaborators for presentations, but a fantastic network of support that is really great to have.

Q: What's your secret passion?

It's not really a secret, but I'm really into what can be called the "marching arts," aka, variations on marching band. I was in high school and college marching band, spent many years in drum corps and other competitive drumlines, and also taught drumlines for about three years (my first teaching experience). That's part of what got me interested in instruction and eventually led me to becoming an instruction librarian.

Ariana E. Santiago is the Instruction Librarian at the University of Houston's M.D. Anderson Library. You can follow Ariana on Twitter @aripants