Career Spotlight: What I Do as a Game Design and Development Liaison Librarian
June 6, 2016
Liaison Librarian, Game Design and Development at Wilfrid Laurier University – Brantford Campus
First of all, tell us a bit about your current work and how long you’ve been at it.
My position as Liaison Librarian, Game Design and Development is very new as the program it was created to support only began in September 2015.
Currently, along with the Game Design and Development program, I support the Criminology, Law and Society, and Human Rights and Human Diversity programs.
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?
I stumbled upon librarianship after working in the museum and archival world. I did a lot of children’s programming in the past and when I went for my MA in Public History I imagined I would end up working in a museum somewhere.
For my practicum I got a job at the City of Cambridge archives and this changed my trajectory entirely as after that summer I got a contract working at the University of Guelph Archival and Special Collections. I stayed with ASC for over 4 years working various contracts and completed my MLIS until finally becoming a permanent staff member fall 2014.
I worked in a technician like role at Guelph and I yearned for more opportunities to work with faculty, students, research and instruction. This led me to start looking elsewhere and I got the contract at Laurier. I always tell people it was one of the strangest cover letters I’ve ever written because I wrote an entire paragraph justifying how “nerdy” I am.
What kinds of things do you do beyond what most people see? What do you actually spend the majority of your time doing?
I do a lot of outreach work within the community for the gaming program. I am also involved in a lot of strategic planning and policy making given how new the program is and that there will be a new library building soon. I spend a lot of my time currently doing research and talking to other professionals.
What misconceptions do people often have about your job?
People often think I just play games all day or they think that the program I support is only video games.
What are your average work hours? Typical 9-5 thing or not?
My work hours are a little flexible. I have standard times I like to be in the office if there are no outside events happening (8:30-430), but I am typically involved with evening and weekend programs and events so my schedule changes rather often. I have a white board outside of my office to update students on where I am and how to contact me.
What personal tips and shortcuts made your job easier?
Being a gamer and having lots of gaming friends has been a HUGE help. I have connections in the industry and I have had a lot of help from these fine folks. I also have lots of professional connections from other institutions I have worked at and they are always there to help me figure something out.
My number one personal tip would be to engage with the students as much as possible. With the game students I find it is really important to be able to talk to them on their level and chit chat about gaming to build trust.
What do you do differently from your peers in the same profession?
I would say my irregular hours, being able to visit comic (gaming) conventions for work, collaborating heavily with the community, visiting libraries to help design our new one, and playing games (on occasion) with students really sets me apart from my colleagues.
What’s the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?
The worst part of my job is not having library space. We are in the midst of planning a new library, but that is a few years away so it can be frustrating having to pump the brakes on new and exciting things because we do not have the space.
What’s the most enjoyable part of the job?
I love getting to work with students and I really enjoy the subject matter. I never thought I’d get to be a librarian for something that I have enjoyed my entire life. I also enjoy seeing the connections students make with games and other disciplines or world problems. These students really are going to change the world through gaming.
Is there a way to “move up” in your field?
I am not entirely sure if there is a way to move up at this point as this is a fairly new program. I suppose the library could expand and there could be a need for more staff and some manager/supervisory roles.
What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?
My advice would be to try to think outside the box. I did not come from a liaison background, but I was able to do liaison type work in the archives and also developed a set of skills that made me desirable for this position (eg. archival storage, digital surrogates, obsolete technology, etc). Market the skills you have rather than just count pure library/librarian experience.