I’ve known Annie Pho for so many years now that I’m not sure when exactly we met. Annie Pho is an Academic Resident Librarian at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she works in reference and instruction. She’s currently working on a grant project to implement digital badges to teach information literacy skills online at UIC. Annie is a 2014 ALA Emerging Leader and is working with her team to provide ALCTS with best practices for their social media accounts. She occasionally blogs and tweets as @catladylib.
1. How did you first become interested in librarianship?
I grew up going to libraries as a child. My mom took me there a lot growing up. The library was my homework helper, my entertainment, and my second home. In high school, I volunteered as a shelver at the public library, and when I started at community college, I worked at the circulation desk. I didn’t consider librarianship as a career option until I had moved to Savannah, GA for art school and didn’t end up going (for various reasons). I started looking for jobs in the area and saw an advertisement for an art librarian. I remembered how much I had enjoyed working in a library and realized that it could be a career option. I ended up moving back to CA, finished my bachelor’s, then went to grad school to be a librarian.
1a. If you had a previous career please tell us a little about it and your transferable skills.
I didn’t really have a career prior to becoming a librarian, but I worked in coffee shops for many years. Many of the skills like customer service, staying calm during stressful transactions, and prioritizing tasks really did transfer to libraries, especially when I worked at a smaller library where we had to do a little bit of everything.
2. How would you describe yourself in 5 words or less?
Considerate, collaborative, analytical, motivated, and good-humored.
3. What do you see as some of the major challenges facing librarians in the coming years?
Some of the major challenges are related to budget cuts and having to do more with less. This applies to not only public libraries, but many academic libraries as well. Related to that is the rising cost of journals and decreasing library budgets, and scholarly communication. It’s not necessarily a challenge, but academic librarians are going to need to start talking to their faculty members about the Open Access movement, and other aspects of research like data management.
4. What would you like to accomplish or work towards as a librarian?
As an instruction librarian, I would like to improve as a teacher and explore innovative ways to impart information literacy skills. I also want to contribute to conversations about the lack of diversity in our field. How can we improve this and what can we do to make our field more diverse? That is not an easy task, but it is something that I would like to work towards, along with a community of other like-minded professionals.
5. When you aren’t on the clock how do you like to relax?
I like hanging out with my kitties and my partner, and exploring Chicago. I also love riding my bike and checking out all the bike paths in the Chicago area. Last year I participated in Cycling for Libraries and hope to do it again this summer so I’ll need to train for riding my bike in France!