Career Spotlight: What I Do as a YBP Collection Development Manager
May 16, 2016
Christine F. Smith
Collection Development Manager for Eastern Canada at YBP Library Services
First of all, tell us a bit about your current work and how long you’ve been at it.
I am the Collection Development Manager for Eastern Canada at YBP Library Services, a division of EBSCO Information Services. I have held this position since the fall of 2015.
What drove you to choose your career path and how did you go about getting your job? What kind of education and experience did you need?
My career path was a winding road, as most careers seem to be. My first library job was as a clerk in the university library of my undergraduate institution. From there, I studied and worked my way up, zigging and zagging across the different aspects of the information sector. I have quite diverse experiences in the library field. I guess that was what I needed to get this position!
What kinds of things do you do beyond what most people see? What do you actually spend the majority of your time doing?
I spend most of my time working with collection development and acquisitions librarians, ensuring that they are receiving the materials that they are interested in collecting and helping them to refine and streamline their processes. I can’t attest to what “most people see,” but this is what I do.
What misconceptions do people often have about your job?
People tend to be hesitant around vendors, but I don’t believe that is necessary; I truly feel like I am a partner with librarians. We’re all working to ensure that the library has the materials that support library services and users’ needs. My job is to help make that happen in the easiest way possible; I’m not there to scare people. I’m a librarian at heart and I just want to help make the library a success.
What are your average work hours? Typical 9-5 thing or not?
There is no such thing as an average day for me, and I love that about my job. One day, I could have a full day of back-to-back meetings refining approval plans in English, the next day, I could be doing a demonstration of our interface, GOBI (short for Global Online Bibliographic Information), in French, the next day it could be emails and phone calls in both languages. You never know what will happen; it’s like extreme reference duty and it’s awesome!
What personal tips and shortcuts made your job easier?
Flexibility makes most jobs easier, I think, and I find it to be especially true in this position. A meeting gets cancelled? A snowstorm makes you stuck in the airport overnight? Taking everything in stride and finding resolutions to little problems are essential. To quote Tim Gunn, you have to make it work. :)
What do you do differently from your peers in the same profession?
Well, most of my peers serve library users (clients, customers, members, etc.) directly. My job is serving these individuals by way of serving the library staff.
What’s the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it? What’s the most enjoyable part of the job?
Travelling is one of the best and the worst parts of this job. I love to be able to see so many beautiful institutions, reconnect with former colleagues and classmates, meet new people and help projects advance all over the country. These aspects of the job are so rewarding! Some days, however, I just want to be a stereotypical librarian and sit at home with my cat and a cup of tea. Happily, the time away makes the time home seem that much nicer. So, I try to be present. Enjoy the road when I am away and enjoy friends and family (and pets!) when I am home. So far, it has worked out quite well.
Is there a way to “move up” in your field?
Yes. I also think that there are many ways to “move up” in one’s field, even if it is just working on new projects in the same role. Self-reflection and personal improvement are key to advancing.
What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?
Get involved. Meet new people. Try new things. Take opportunities. Listen to your heart.