NMRT Member Spotlight: 5 Questions with Margaret Howard

mhoward pic

Margaret Howard

Chesterfield County Public Library, VA

Assistant Branch Manager

A little about Margaret’s job:

I am the head of reference for a mid-sized public library; I also manage branch programming and supervise the librarian staff members.

1) What are some things you like about your job or about working in libraries in general?

Working for a busy and creative library system gives me a lot of opportunities to try new things. It’s great to be given permission on a regular basis to work on new kinds of projects and learn about emerging trends or technologies. My big project for next year is a large fundraising event we are doing with our Friends of the Library which I will be planning from start to finish. I am doing a murder-mystery theme from an idea I borrowed from the awesome Audrey Barbakoff of Kitsap Regional Library WA, and believe we are going to make a really cool event that will be beneficial to the library as well as our community. I’m excited to get started and thankful to have a system that lets me take risks and try new things, as well as allowing me the resources to succeed.

2) What’s a project or committee you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?

In October I begin my term as Virginia Library Association’s NMRT Chair and I’m really looking forward continuing the work this team has been doing over the last few years. We are on year two of our mentoring program, which emulates the career mentoring program given by ALA NMRT and I believe it will continue to grow and improve. Our focus is connecting new librarians from across Virginia with the resources offered by VLA and getting everyone involved. In addition to our mentoring program, VLA NMRT holds regular socials around the state to give librarians the opportunity to meet people in a relaxed and fun environment. I believe creating these connections encourages new librarians to get involved in non-threatening environments, which I find to be incredibly important and helpful.

3) What got you interested in libraries?

I wanted my career to be something I believed in and could advocate for, and libraries fit this need for me. I live and breathe what I do, as a public librarian I know that I help people with real-life problems and provide solutions a lot of people won’t receive anywhere else. I’ve helped patrons who later came back and told me that what I did helped get them a job, or encouraged their child to become a reader. Helping people in real, measureable ways is so incredibly rewarding, I feel very lucky to do what I do.

4) What is one of your favorite things about NMRT?

Well, NMRT sponsored me for ALA Emerging Leaders 2013 for which I will be forever grateful. I love that NMRT gives everyone opportunities to get involved and learn the ropes of ALA. It’s such a huge and potentially scary organization, I feel that NMRT helps create diversity by encouraging everyone to become a member and be involved. I also love the mentoring program NMRT provides, and I’m not just saying that as co-chair of the committee! I was mentored by Jennifer Baker, Director of St. Helena Library CA, from 2012-2013 through NMRT’s program and we developed a great relationship that I really benefitted from. I was applying for supervisory positions during this time and was able to talk to Jennifer about how I was feeling and get unbiased advice and support. It took a few tries but I ultimately was offered the management position I have now, I feel that my mentor/mentee relationship helped me keep my sanity during that time.

5) Do you have any advice for other new librarians?

Figure out what you want to do and go for it with passion. My motto is “You go where your eyes go,” meaning whatever it is you are focused on, you will get there eventually, so make sure you are focused on something you actually want! No one is going to hand you your dream career, you have to carve it out yourself and look for opportunities when they come. NMRT is great for this as it gives lots of ways to get involved, meet new people, and hone your skills. Look for opportunities, apply, volunteer, and be brave with your career; you really do only live once.

Want to be our next member of the week? Know another new librarian who deserves to be in the spotlight? Fill out our nomination form here!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *