Monday, December 21, 2015

Q & A with a Library Director: Charlotte Knoche

Interview conducted by Jackie Martini, CSP Library Social Media Student Worker

It’s time for another library feature.  This week, I was fortunate to be able to sit down with Charlotte Knoche, CSP’s very own Library Director!

What does the job of Library Director entail?
My main job is to make sure staff enjoy what they’re doing.  Someone who works in cataloguing needs to have a lot of attention to detail!  Even things like how many spaces are after a period matter.  Other positions might need creativity, and the people who teach classes should like to stand up in front of people.  I also make sure everyone gets what they need to keep their jobs done.
It’s also keeping track of how everyone is doing, budgeting, evaluating programs, board meetings, staff meetings, trying to make sure the faculty have what they need, helping decide what we keep in circulation and what we withdraw.

Wow.  That’s a lot of things to juggle!
I work on special projects, too!  Right now we’re discussing digital archives for the library--we need to determine faculty interest, student usage, convince the administration, and get a plan together for that to go through.

That’s incredible.  What’s your favorite part of all this?
I love the people here.  We have amazing staff and our student workers are incredible.  We couldn't operate without the student workers, that’s for sure!
The Library After Dark events have been a lot of fun, too.  They've been more popular than I first expected, so that’s good!

If you could tell all the students one thing about the library, what would that be?
We’re here to help and there is no question that is a stupid question.  Don’t procrastinate!  It’s hard for us to help you if you come in the day it’s due.  I can’t tell you how sad it is if there are a lot of resources in the system but none of them will get here in time for the student to use them because the due date is the day after they ask.

Did you plan to end up here, as Library Director?
No way!  My first degree was in German--I wanted my PhD and to teach at a university, but I could see the number of the German students was declining.  I enjoyed teaching but I got involved with the library and started thinking it might be fun.
My husband and I moved to Milwaukee Lutheran for about five years, and I worked at Steven’s Portage Public Library--doing puppet shows, working with the kids, things like that.  Our pastor at the time then said they needed someone to replace a cataloger and reference librarian at CSP (I had never been here) so I filled out the application and sent it in!  I never expected to get it--I called them three times before accepting to double check I was the one they wanted!
I did a lot of student teaching and adult instruction on the side.  When the director left, I ended up doing some of that work--I was interim director for a year or two and decided it wasn’t too bad!  

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a library director?
Experience is great!  To be a student worker in the library is a job that can really lead you somewhere in the world.  One of our former student workers came to me for a recommendation and I gave him a good one; he got a job as a librarian at the U of M library!
Be open and always receptive to new opportunities!  In my case it worked out kind of in spite of me, not because of me.  Just mellow out, be open to opportunities and it will all work out.

Any closing advice or remarks?
I really believe in interacting with international exchange students and traveling abroad if you can . . . it’s really healthy to see a lot of new perspectives.  It helps so much!  I think the more perspectives you start to understand, the better it is for everybody.

Thank you so much, Charlotte!

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