In Business with Amanda Horsman and The unLibrarian
October 19, 2020
To mark Small Business Week, Librarianship.ca is profiling members of the Canadian library and information community who have founded or own their own businesses.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am a mid-career librarian (who became an expert health information professional) who has gone rogue to provide reference services outside of traditional librarian-based institutions as an entrepreneur.
As of January 2020 I have been employed under the program with the CBDC’s self-employment benefit program for people with disabilities. I am bilingual 36-year-old, neurodiverse, solo mom, with a prosthetic right eye and 80% hearing loss in my left ear as well as fibromyalgia and spinal issues. Disability has taught me to be very humble and extraordinarily resourceful. I have learned to naturally navigate complex systems regardless of barriers present. So, I help others, maybe even remind them, of the amazing people that they are and for them to gain the necessary information resources and skills necessary to achieve their dreams in business and in wellness.
What products or services do you offer?
I provide information services as the ultimate troubleshooter for any problem: business, studies or personal matters. Check out my page. I also have a website focused my offerings and one around my disability advocacy. Eventually I see these websites and services streamlining together.
Presently, Business Assistance and Consulting, Bibliotherapy and Wellness Advocacy are my three major avenues of business.
In the first, my base level service is providing New Brunswick business name search services (NUANS), then one-on-one training and consulting sessions, and also larger records organisation projects.
Under Bibliotherapy, I recommend books to those in need of a good resource to help them in a time of need through a Facebook group and independently.
Finally, I use my lifetime of disability advocacy to help others become self-advocates through communication, skills recognition, and inspiration.
I provide reference services as a freelance librarian on my website, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, by phone and email. I am still defining and designing products and services as the unLibrarian. Of course, I have swag (t-shirts and mugs) for sale on my website store.
What is unique about your business?
I connect people, systems, and information that make everyone wonder if it’s magic. As an information guide, I am as quintessential as Mary Poppins. My mission is simple—I wish for everyone to have the opportunity to be informed decision-makers in their businesses and lives: to be self-sufficient.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business? How did you come up with the name for your company?
The unLibrarian came to me in a moment of inspiration/frustration back in 2017. The concept goes beyond the definition as I saw many library systems that I can only help from the outside at this point as I can no longer work in traditional systems due to my health and disabilities. Becoming The unLibrarian allows me to become how much needed critic an influencer on the outside of traditional librarianship. Most librarian jobs are within structured, traditional institutions such as hospital libraries, public libraries, government libraries, and academic libraries. As the unLibrarian, I provide information, services to entrepreneurs and others outside of these institutions where they would not typically have access to a professional of my skill and expertise.
Can you describe/outline your typical day?
My typical day varies day to day as I have to plan out for my son and also for my health. During the week, I wake up, I get my son to school and then I see what kind of day it will be until he is done for the day. On Mondays, or business Mondays as they are called on Social Media and resting from the weekend. I often end up doing a lot of posting to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and cleaning the office on Tuesday. Then usually meetings on Wednesday and Thursday. Then Friday kind of tapers off with planning for the weekend and the upcoming week. Then I go into the weekend where I usually work the weekends my son is away with his biological father. Weekends capture another clientele that is outside of the 9-5 business sector that is alive and well in the Maritimes.
What motivates you?
I am in the midst of a major shift and getting creative so I can work as a mom with disabilities. I will find all the ways by which to make The unLibrarian a success with lots of creativity and resourcefulness! I want my business to succeed to be self-sufficient, able to cover all my medical expenses (like when I need my everyday medicine, eventually a new eye and new hearing aids) and to prepare my son for his future. I am motivated by the passion in my librarian heart and fueled by my love for life and my son.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Creativity, resourcefulness, and hopefulness.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
It’s when I see a spark in a client that signals that I’ve helped them, by way of a smile or often outright telling me how much I have just changed their life. When my clients see the value of my business, that is always very satisfying moment. If they’ve learned something that changes their life for the better: that’s the value. When they refer me, it signals to me that they believe that I can help other people as well.
I do have to say that one of the most satisfying moments has also been working with a team of interprofessionals to evaluate me and work together to ensure that I received the assistive devices and accommodations that I require to be successful in my business. It was truly amazing sitting with a disability coordinator a lady from vision loss rehabilitation, and the local deaf & hard of hearing association in my office by the serene ocean, to which I just moved to a few months ago, at the beginning of Covid. I am in the process of gathering quotes and whatever else they need so I can become more comfortable in interacting with other people online and in person as The unLibrarian.
If your business were a book, song or famous artwork, what would it be and why?
Sometimes I see the character of The unLibrarian as that witch that people in the village would go ask questions. I see the girls in the Netflix show Violet Evergarden, who were dispatched to take notes and communications for people to send letters. I see the governesses of Jane Eyre and the Bronte Sisters and all of their strengths and resilience coming out in this character. I see something different. I see Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller’s teacher, coming up with ideas to keep them afloat including joining the circus. I see a bright future ahead with possibilities where people with beautiful minds and disabilities thrive alike.
What is an interesting and fun tidbit about your business?
My original logo is a witch’s hat as I have worn many different hats in my life and am capable of wearing many different hats it’s also a tip to my eclectic nature in how I go about in resolving anything that comes my way.
If you had 24 hours all to yourself, how would you best like to spend it?
Honestly, depends on the day. I am a free spirit in that way. I could spend the day by myself in bed, recovering. I could spend it with my son on little adventures. Could be a nice mix between.