13 Questions With: Brian Rooney
April 18, 2016
Certified Bilingual Resource Specialist, Kids Help Phone
Who inspires you in your career?
I try to draw inspiration from anyone I see doing well in and exploring new options and avenues in the library field. I think that we all have something we can learn for any active members of the local library field no matter what type of setting they are in.
The first job you ever held and at what age and your first position in the library and/or information services field?
My first, non-under the table job was actually as a historical researcher for local community group when I was 18. I was tasked with gathering information and resources on WWII activity in the Gaspésie and Gulf of Lawrence area. It was a very rewarding experience and taught me a lot about primary & secondary source research as well as on conducting interviews. It wasn’t the most conventional first job for a teenager but it helped shape my future educational and career choices.
My first library and information science job was a co-op position as a records manager with the Mohawk College Foundation in Hamilton. I helped create an office records management program from scratch, which included managing and cataloguing existing records and establishing overarching office records management policies, as well as retention and disposal guideline documents. It was a pretty intense first library job as I had to deal with almost every aspect of the records management field all at once, but that is also what made it so rewarding.
Why a career in librarianship?
I always felt comfortable in the educational environment. After my original plans for teaching at the college level did not pan out like I had hoped I turned to library science in hopes of becoming an academic librarian to help students who were in the same position I had been in not long before. But I also promised myself that I would explore other options in the LIS field while completing my MLIS to prepare myself for anything the field had to offer career wise, and that open-mindedness led me the special libraries realm.
Coolest thing in your cubicle or office?
I guess this birthday card I got from some coworkers. My set up here is incredibly minimalist; other than several stacks of papers and my framed CRS certificate I don’t have many personal items or knick knacks around.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I enjoy watching old video games on YouTube. Some would call that incredibly boring but my schedule leaves me with little time for actually playing games, especially older ones. So sometimes in the evenings I’ll just watch an old Super Nintendo RPG I missed back in the 90s like it was movie to pass the time.
Career advice – what’s your top tip?
Become whatever you find yourself doing. Being a Resource Specialist was not something I saw myself doing but once I was offered a contract position at Kid Help Phone I decided to learn everything I could about the position. That included discovering relevant professional organizations associated with the career (Alliance of Information & Referral Systems, AIRS, in my case), what people on my team did and their professional background and what type of additional opportunities exist in this line of LIS work, etc. Once I discovered that AIRS offered a resource specialist certification I made it a professional goal of mine to obtain it, despite just being a contract employee. It ended up being instrumental to getting me hired on as a full, time permanent employee. So, even if you find yourself in a library job that you didn’t expect try to make the most of it and learn as much as you can; you don’t have to do it forever and the things you learn from it will help your professional development in the long run.
What useless skill(s) do you possess?
I can touch the end of my nose with my tongue. I think it’s sort of gross but others find it amusing in a weird sort of way. I found out recently it is a fairly rare trait.
Proudest moment in your professional life?
Presenting at the OLA 2016 Superconference. I only discovered its existence in 2013, attended for the first time in 2014 as a student and was a presenter by 2016. It was an honour to present on my work with Kids Help Phone and on my career in the LIS field that I still felt so new to.
If you had 24 hours all to yourself, how would you best like to spend it?
I would take a day trip to a close by town I had never seen before and see the sights. I love briefly exploring new places that are close to home.
If you didn’t work in the information industry, what would you be doing?
Hopefully I would be teaching history or general humanities at the community college, CEGEP or maybe even undergraduate level. Teaching was a goal of mine before I entered into the library world so I would likely be regaling college students with tales from the past.
Finish this sentence: “In high school, I would have been voted the person most likely to … “
…pretty much fall off the radar after high school. I went to high school in Quebec and as far as I know I’m the only member of my graduating class of only 37 people to even end up in Ontario.
How do you stay current in your field?
There are several websites and Twitter profiles I follow to stay up to date. I sort of divide my attention between general library/info science resources and Information & Referral resources. For library science I try to attend information sessions put on by SLA Toronto and the OLA-SLC. I was also a programming director with SLA Toronto West division in 2014 and 2015 which helped reach out to other local professionals in the field and learn about their projects and interests. For information & referral I read the AIRS online networker newsletter every day and attend the occasional webinar to get up to date with the research and data management aspects of the I&R field.
What would you like your headstone to read?
Just my name and the dates are fine by me.