Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Longtime RPL Librarian Shannon Humphreys Says Farewell

Shannon Humphreys, Reference Librarian and Reader's Advisor extraordinaire, is retiring this month. She agreed to answer a few questions about her long career and the changes she has seen. 
We will miss her, but wish her good reading!

Without giving away any secrets, how long have you been a librarian? And how much of that time has been with RPL?

I have been a librarian for about 34 years!  I graduated  with an M.L.S from Ball State University, and began my career at Norfolk Public Library as a Junior Librarian and was a cataloger, and Jail Librarian. After 5 years, I decided to pursue my degree at the University of Kentucky, as the  program at Ball State did not receive accreditation from the American Library Association retroactive to my class. I was fortunate enough to have a graduate assistantship in the Reference Department  at King Library, which made me fall in love with the art of being a Reference librarian. My career at RPL began in February 1984 at the West End Branch.  I've been a Librarian at the Main Library (beginning when there were 3 subject reference departments) and have been at both the West End and Belmont branch libraries. 

What are the biggest changes in library services you have seen over your career? 

I have experienced many changes in Library services over the years, starting with using primarily print reference sources and the joy of the reference interview to ascertain  what the patron needs, and the challenge of being able to provide information in a timely manner (or not, in some cases, having to consult a wide variety of resources to answer the question.) I've experienced the transitions from a card catalog to an online catalog in its various incarnations, and from using print to online reference sources. The collection of library materials has also changed greatly, from print to audio and video resources to e-books.

And what’s still the same?

The challenge of meeting the needs of our patrons, whether it's answering reference questions, providing reader's advisory services, or sharing my love of reading and books. Also, the challenge of using our resources effectively.

What have been the most rewarding parts of your job during your tenure here at RPL?

The most rewarding aspect of the job has been meeting the needs of our patrons, whether it involves answering their questions, providing assistance with the online catalog, or recommending a good book and having a patron say "thank you"! I have also enjoyed facilitating the Lunch Box Book Club, and have gained many insights from our discussions.  The experience of using my knowledge and experience, and the wonder of learning something new on a daily basis.

You are a big reader of literary fiction. . . any favorite authors? Or genres?

Being such a voracious reader, it is hard to choose a favorite author, but I can mention Reynolds Price, Lee Smith, Hilary Mantel. My genre of choice is historical or Southern fiction.   I've also developed an appreciation for the short story. Science fiction and fantasy are the least appealing genres to me.

Have your reading tastes changed over the years?

My reading tastes have expanded rather than changed. As a result of having been involved in collection development and constantly recommending titles and sharing observations on books and authors, I am more open to escaping my comfort zone. If you haven't read it, it is new to you!

Would you care to predict the future of ebooks?  

 I'm undecided concerning the future of ebooks.

Big plans for retirement?

I  plan to continue facilitating the Lunch Box Book club, and I have many projects around the home to attend to!  Ceilidh and Penny (my Shelties) will be happy to have me at their beck and call. It will be nice to become a member of the RPL Retirees' group and keep in touch with them on a more frequent basis. 


LOCATION said...

Ellen - This was such a lovely interview. It captured Shannon's gentle soul, yet she is an ardent defender of the book, reading and providing correct information and answers to our patrons. We have all been luckly to have worked with her and benefited from her knowledge and experience. She contributed greatly to our library profession and the legacy of the Richmond Public Library. Thank you.

We need to do more interviews with our staff...before they leave. We have a very diverse and eclectically interesting group of people who work in the Richmond Public Library system.

Anonymous said...

I have only worked with Shannon for a few days, but I can easily imagine the thousands of grateful people she has helped over the years. She will be missed.