Meet A Member: M. Teresa Doherty

What is your VLA position?
2nd Vice President

What do you hope to accomplish in your time as an elected member of the VLA Executive Committee?
I would like to make the process of volunteering to participate in VLA committees, forums, and special projects easier and more standardized. It's on my "to-do" list this year!

Where do you work?
I work in James Branch Cabell Library at VCU — in our recently renovated and expanded (and beautiful) library, right in the heart of campus. Working at the Information Desk in the lobby, as well as handling questions through our chat, text, and email service, I get to interact with our patrons — faculty, students, staff, and visitors — every day, and every day there is an energy and engagement which delights me.

What is your current position?
I am assistant head for access services, in the Teaching, Learning and Information department in VCU Libraries. I'm in the unique position of having a foot in two different camps: in circulation as I oversee policies and services related to fulfillment  in our library, and in instruction, as part of the teaching and learning team, leading course-integrated instruction sessions for undergraduate students.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a librarian?
I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but it was actually several years *after* getting a job in the library, as an assistant to the AUL for Tech Services, and learning how to code on the side, that I realized that I could get my masters and become a librarian. I was encouraged by seeing how many of my paraprofessional colleagues had done that, and then been hired into faculty positions in my library — I decided to go back to school 20 years after receiving my undergraduate degree!

What was your first library job?
I was hired to be the secretary to the Assistant University Library for Collections, Technical Services, and Information Systems, answering the phone, handling travel plans, taking notes in meetings. I was fortunate that my boss encouraged my interest in the web side of his department, and I had plenty of opportunities to learn how to use Cold Fusion, a web application development platform, to create dynamic web content. That lead me to graduate school, and my librarian career here at VCU Libraries.

What is your favorite part of librarianship?
My favorite part of librarianship has got to be that one-on-one conversation with a student in person. He might be a little anxious about his assignment, or she could be sure what she wants to do, but uncertain how to locate resources — that's when I get to work shoulder-to-shoulder with them, and talk about how the library (and librarians) can help them. Not just in theory, but with concrete examples that they can use right away; it can be as simple as sharing tips on how to use our discovery system, or it could be more complex, and leads to a referral to a subject specialist librarian colleague. But that first interaction, where our students can see that librarians aren't that scary (even though their assignment might be!), and that we can actually help them — that's what I love.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you on the job?
Oops, can't share here — but you can get an idea by following @FakeLibStats on twitter!

If you could have anything in the universe installed in your office for your personal use, what would it be?
I'd love to have a window looking out onto a garden (with a window that I could actually open), so that I could take short meditative breaks when needed. Granted, that wouldn't be as much help during the non-flowering seasons, but it's a start!

What is something your colleagues would be surprised to know about you?
I had a poem published in Rolling Stone magazine when I was 19. If they already know that (and yeah, I might have mentioned it once or twice), they might be surprised to know that I saw Super Bowl XII, Cowboys/Broncos, in person in the Superdome in New Orleans.

Interviewed by Gregg Grunow

Want to be featured on Meet a Member? Email Gregg at [email protected].
Don't miss the other entries in our Meet A Member — Leadership Edition.