13 Questions With: Maureen O’Reilly
January 28, 2016
President of the Toronto Public Library Workers (TPLWU) Local 4948
Who inspires you in your career?
Marjory at Richview inspired me in my first job here in Toronto as she was an excellent librarian and respected front line service delivery so much that that became the focus of my career as well.
The first job you ever held and at what age and your first position in the library and/or information services field?
I looked after the tennis courts in Victoria Park and my first position in a library was working as a library student at the Legislative Library at Queen’s Park.
Why a career in librarianship?
It really was the community aspect and the ability to give back in that way and really make a difference to an individual especially a young person who may be struggling. Also it was the perfect job for someone with endless curiosity.
Coolest thing in your cubicle or office?
My giant glasses. They have become an icon of the library workers in Toronto. I have now amassed quite a collection of eye glass wear like shirts, scarves, bracelets, necklaces, paper clips, wine stoppers etc.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Reading Michael Connelly and his Harry Bosch books. It was a thrill for me to see Michael at the Bluma Appel Salon at TRL here in Toronto and get a book autographed by “Harry”. I learned that Michael was also involved in producing the Bosch TV series through Amazon which I was able to get through Crave TV. I ordered it the next day.
Career advice – what’s your top tip?
If you have a love and passion for aspects of librarianship, pursue it though there may be obstacles in your way. And love what you do. Working on the front-line is especially admirable and you shouldn’t feel that you need to abandon it just to “get ahead” cuz that is what everyone preaches.
What useless skill(s) do you possess?
An ability to stay up for hours on end and to remain alert and sharp. Though it comes in handy from time to time during collective bargaining and all night budget deputations at Toronto City Hall!
Proudest moment in your professional life?
It’s a collection of moments actually. The advocacy work on have been doing on behalf of the library and the Toronto public library workers. I respect the institution and the workers so much and it is a honour to be able to advocate on their behalf.
If you had 24 hours all to yourself, how would you best like to spend it?
If you didn’t work in the information industry, what would you be doing?
Well prior to becoming a librarian, I worked with lots of troubled kids and now I am doing labour work. Certainly something that touches on “social justice” for our communities.
Finish this sentence: “In high school, I would have been voted the person most likely to … “
…be leading something and make a difference. That was instilled in me by my family at a very young age.
How do you stay current in your field?
I am a member of CLA, OLA and ALA. I try and keep up with the professional literature. I am the Co-Chair and Chair of the CUPE National Library Workers Committee and Ontario Library Workers Committee respectively. Networking and talking is the most important way to keep current.
What would you like your headstone to read?
Well behaved women rarely make history.