RUSA - STARGazing: Meet Sydney Thompson
1. What is your institutional affiliation?
Central Washington University
2. What’s your OCLC / Docline symbol?
3. What would be the title of your autobiography?
A good friend of mine sent me a mug that sums up my life pretty well, “I just freaking love cats, ok.” (It seems like there should be a question mark at the end, but there’s not. The correct intonation is a struggle.)
4. How did you get involved in resource sharing (or access services, etc.)?
I was a student library assistant in stacks and circulation while working on my MA in Sociology at the New School for Social Research. After graduation I decided libraries were the place for me, pursued an MLS at Queens College, and moved to a job in the Access Services department at New York University. I initially intended to go the reference route, but at NYU I learned that access services librarianship was a possibility, and quickly changed gears. I love the fast-paced nature of access services, and that we provide foundational services which are user-centered and scalable to our entire campus communities.
5. What are you passionate about? How does that passion inform your work?
Access services and resource sharing! To be more specific, I’m passionate about breaking down barriers to accessing information. We should strive to create the most seamless information discovery and access experience for our users, whether they’re freshman in college or tenured faculty. We should also review our policies and procedures on a regular basis. What barriers are we putting up? Are they necessary? Do we need to require that users check every conceivable discovery system and database before putting in an ILL request?
Or can we just get them the requested information using our research skills, in the quickest most automated way? It is so important that our community continues to have a voice in software development so our systems respond in the most flexible, interoperable, ways. Creative individuals, institutions, consortia, and commercial partners, experiment and push the envelope of what is possible.
This is why I love resource sharing!
6. What do you feel are the benefits of your STARS membership, and why would you encourage others to get involved?
The community! I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I was never really trained in how to “do” access services or resource sharing. I learned on the job, fiddling with ILLiad, seeing what happened, and trying not to break anything too badly. Luckily, we have a community built on sharing resources, and this isn’t limited to books and articles. I’ve benefited greatly from formal and informal conversations with experts in the field and by following and asking questions on listservs. The way I first learned of these connections and networks was by attending STARS meetings at ALA.
7. What do you wish you’d known when you started out in resource sharing (access services, etc.)?
That feels like so long ago. I’ve learned that resource sharing is vital to the research enterprise, and that as resource sharing professionals we have a lot to contribute to conversations around discovery, user experience, collection development, research, customer service… everything! Engaging with experts throughout the library allows us to develop truly fantastic services.
8. How has your STARS membership helped you do your job?
My STARS membership has helped me develop professionally through committee work with colleagues outside of my institutions as well as provide a network to learn new ideas and find support when faced with challenges.
9. What are you reading?
I’m currently reading a book called Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel which begins with a killer flu pandemic. I’ve just started it and am beginning to think it’s not the most relaxing choice of reads during COVID-19.
10. Share your favorite fun fact about yourself
My past includes a pilot’s license and roller derby, but now I’m really pretty boring.