13 Questions With: Ryan Moniz
May 25, 2017
Community Librarian, Markham Public Library
Who inspires you in your career?
My parents have, and will always be the most significant inspirations in my life. Neither of them had the opportunity to receive any sort of formal education, but that didn’t stop them from achieving successful careers. I grew up watching the consistent recognition they received for outstanding work in their respective fields and how well liked they were by colleagues and peers. If there’s one lesson my parents have taught me which resonates the most, it’s that while personal success matters, the happiness you experience from helping others achieve their own success is a feeling that just can’t be matched.
The first job you ever held and at what age and your first position in the library and/or information services field?
I was 14 years old when I was hired as a produce clerk for a No Frills just down the street from my house. I spent seven years working there part-time, and I can honestly say I learned so much from it. A ton of credit goes out to my manager, Bobby Haynes. At the time I thought he was just demanding and cold, but over time, especially during my time as a supervisor, I came to understand his leadership style and how effective it was.
My first library job was as a camp coordinator for Markham Public Library. I’d spent much of my youth working in camps, and I brought that experience into the interview and was fortunate enough to get the job. I had no idea that it would be the stepping stone for my future career in the library world.
Why a career in librarianship?
My career goal has always been to support underserved populations of communities across my city, and some day, across the world. As a teenager I always thought of the library as a place to study and find books for school, but it wasn’t until I started working in one that I began to understand how important it is to the community. Whether its access to the Internet for people who can’t afford a connection at home, literacy programs for children having difficultly reading, or just as a safe and welcoming space for the diverse members of our city, I realized that working for a library was the perfect platform for achieving my goal.
Coolest thing in your cubicle or office?
I have a thank you letter that has followed me around to every office I’ve ever worked in during my time at the library. Back when I was first hired, I decided to run a food drive for a local youth shelter in our city. The idea wasn’t exactly well received and expectations were quite low, but I did everything I could to engage my colleagues and the community. I went so far as offering freshly baked oatmeal cookies (my own secret recipe) as a prize to the branch that collected the most items. In the end we counted 200 nonperishable food times that went directly to at-risk youth in the Markham community. A few weeks after the drive ended I received a card in the mail full of messages from youth living in shelters where the food was allocated, and whenever I need a reminder about what I should be striving to do each day, I just read through it.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I could eat burritos three times a day and never tire of them. I’ve come to the conclusion that most foods are better in burrito form. I mean, imagine a Cajun jambalaya burrito. Or, can I interest you in a spaghetti and meatball burrito? Admit it, your mouth is watering!
Career advice – what’s your top tip?
Allow yourself to experience as much as possible. If you think you may be interested in a particular job or industry, try and gain an insight into what it’s actually like. A helpful tip I received several years back was to find people on LinkedIn with positions you’re interested in, and ask them to meet for coffee to chat about their job. You’d be surprised at how much people enjoy talking about their lives and experiences, and while not every invitation will be accepted, the meetings you do have will provide you with the insight you’re looking for.
What useless skill(s) do you possess?
I have a ridiculous memory when it comes to song lyrics, specifically late 90’s and early 2000’s pop music. Unfortunately that memory never applied to what I was learning in school, just Backstreet Boys lyrics. If I hear the words “Backstreets back, alright!” it is physically impossible for me to not break out into a song and dance routine.
Proudest moment in your professional life?
I teach a computer skills class to a group of autistic youth and young adults. For most of the participants, they’ve never used a computer before. Several weeks ago during an activity I overhead a conversation between two participants, one of them being a young man who started the program nervous that he wasn’t going to learn anything because, in his words, he wasn’t smart enough. During the activity he turned to his partner and said, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m doing this. I’m really doing this. I’m using a computer!” Hearing him say that was a reminder that everyone deserves an opportunity to learn and be happy, and that I should always find a way to do just that for people at the library.
If you had 24 hours all to yourself, how would you best like to spend it
I’ve had an idea for a children’s book that’s be swooshing around in my brain for the last few months and if I had 24 hours of interrupted time to myself I’d at least get through the prologue!
If you didn’t work in the information industry, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t working in the wonderful world of libraries, I’d be a social worker. Before I began my career in a library I worked extensively with at-risk youth through a job assistance program. It was rewarding to take these teens that society had written off and provide them the support needed to find gainful employment and create a happy and safe life. I’ve worked in business, insurance, and other fields, but they’ve always left me feeling empty. I have this constant desire to improve the world around me, and crunching numbers doesn’t meet that requirement for me.
Finish this sentence: “In high school, I would have been voted the person most likely to … “
I believe my yearbook has the quote, “most likely to know the 8 rules of Fight Club.” I don’t remember why, but I went through a serious Fight Club phase during my teenage years.
How do you stay current in your field?
I’m lucky enough to share an office space with our tech and research guru, so he’s always keeping me in the loop in regards to new trends in the library world. I enjoy reading journals and articles as much as the next person, but he’s like a walking Coles Notes of library information.
What would you like your headstone to read?
Did everything he could to leave this world a better place than when he entered it.