RUSA - STARGazing: Meet Melissa Eighmy Brown
1. What is your institutional affiliation?
University of Minnesota
2. What’s your OCLC / Docline symbol?
3. What would be the title of your autobiography?
I don’t know, but my favorite autobiography title is Bossypants and if Tina Fey hadn’t already used it, that would be mine.
4. How did you get involved in resource sharing (or access services, etc.)?
In the early 90’s I had a student library job at a University of Wisconsin library, and during that time I had a bad encounter with the head of Interlibrary Loan. She was a horribly mean person. Little did I know then that her job would one day be my calling. I’ve worked in resource sharing for about 25 years and I’ve been the manager of ILL Borrowing & Digital Delivery services at the University of Minnesota since 2014.
5. What are you passionate about? How does that passion inform your work?
I once had a friend comment that I’m the most non-effusive person she’s ever met with the exception of how I talk about my kid and Nick Cave. She’s obviously never heard me talk about my work! I really love facilitating access to resources and especially improving the user experience with interlibrary loan and document delivery. I’m always thinking about how much interlibrary loan needs a makeover, so to speak, in that we need to meet patrons where they are rather than making them jump through hoops to figure out how to use our systems. I’ve spent a lot of time advocating for a next-generation resource delivery system for the last few years, and I’ve been doing this collaboratively with many fellow STARS members. I’m always thrilled when I see libraries and vendors doing new and innovative things to take steps towards this vision of seamless, efficient and communicative resource sharing. I’m also passionate about advocating for accessibility in resource sharing to ensure we are being inclusive of everyone’s needs.
6. What do you feel are the benefits of your STARS membership, and why would you encourage others to get involved?
I think STARS members benefit from the conversations about mutual challenges, local innovations and collective actions. I would encourage others to get involved with STARS to make real connections with the people behind the networks and systems that allow us to share our collections with each other. There is a strong sense of community among the members.
7. What do you wish you’d known when you started out in resource sharing (access services, etc.)?
What I wish I’d known about resource sharing is somewhat of a hard question for me because I've been working in this field for so long. One of the things I've learned is that how we in the community (and within our own institutions) effect change is often gradual, but the work we put into it is always worth it. I don't think I knew how much both patience and persistence is needed, and that it's important to find the balance between the two. I'm also continually fascinated by the differences between institutions, such as different workflows, different systems and uses of systems. We have patrons with different needs and expectations. While of course there are some universals, I think we also take pride in our uniqueness and work to find the customizations that work for us. I'm proud and thankful to be a part of this diverse and collaborative community.
8. How has your STARS membership helped you do your job?
I’m currently serving on the STARS Interlibrary Loan committee and it’s been a great experience to work with STARS colleagues and share our collective knowledge with each other. I’m always learning new things through these interactions.
9. What are you reading?
Through my library’s “Blind Date with a Book” I’ve been reading Stephen King’s The Shining when I have time. I’ve also been reading a lot of articles about electronic thesis and dissertation embargoes and other ETD access issues for a project that I’m currently working on.
10. Share your favorite fun fact about yourself
I have had an obsession with the musician Nick Cave for the last 20 years (see above) which has only slightly lessened as I’ve aged. Like a Deadhead, I used to travel all over the US to see him play: New York, San Francisco, Chicago many times and I scored a backstage pass in DC where I had one short, awkward conversation with him.