13 Questions With: Jessica Thorlakson
May 30, 2016
Librarian, University of Alberta
Who inspires you in your career?
My friend and colleague Allison Sivak. She is does great work both at the University of Alberta as a public services librarian in the Education library [Coutts], and with the Greater Edmonton Library Association [GELA], where she does a plethora of volunteer work for the Prison Library Projects. She once attended a library presentation intended for the Faculty of Education, and when the librarian who was supposed to present fell ill moments before, Allison took her notes and did the presentation herself–with no preparation! She is gold. She knows all the things.
The first job you ever held and at what age and your first position in the library and/or information services field?
My first job was at McDonald’s when I was 15. It helped me become a little less shy around people [although I still am]. My first library job was at the University of Alberta in the Rutherford Humanities and Social Sciences Library as a library student.
Why a career in librarianship?
I really believe in equitable access to information. There’s this complete misconception that because of the internet and Google everyone has access to the information they need to make informed decisions, but that just isn’t our reality.
I also love the quest to find information. I could spend hours trying to find obscure data on a subject and would be very happy doing so.
Coolest thing in your cubicle or office?
The photos of my adorable cats, of course.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Drinking ice-cold glasses of Zevia Cola. It’s not really a guilty pleasure, especially as they are a ‘healthier’ version of soda…but I drink more of them than I probably should. I am always craving my Zevia Cola.
Career advice – what’s your top tip?
Participate in volunteer work. It is rewarding and you can make great connections.
What useless skill(s) do you possess?
I can do a backbend…I’m pretty flexible from my years of dance training.
Proudest moment in your professional life?
A couple years ago the University of Alberta Libraries Chief Librarian, Gerald Beasley, sent out this survey to the University of Alberta community asking them to complete this sentence: “the University of Alberta libraries would be better if…” and someone put “the University of Alberta libraries would be better if all librarians were Jessica Thorlakson.” I was really touched. I wasn’t expecting to see that when I was scrolling through the responses! I may have cried a little.
If you had 24 hours all to yourself, how would you best like to spend it
At home in my yard with my cats and my partner. Probably eating popcorn and drinking Zevia Colas…ha!
If you didn’t work in the information industry, what would you be doing?
Anything involving being outside. I like trees.
Finish this sentence: “In high school, I would have been voted the person most likely to … “
Be weird? I have no idea.
How do you stay current in your field?
Attend conferences, follow a few interesting folks on Twitter, read articles… the usual! I think?
What would you like your headstone to read?
“So it goes”
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good”
This is an impossible thing for me to decide…