Meet A Member: Shari Henry

Shari HenryWhere do you work?
We are housed in Central Library, Arlington County

What is your current position?
Division Chief, Materials Management

When did you first know that you wanted to be a librarian?
I had moved from several states away and thought working in the library might provide me a way to meet some new friends and to be around thoughtful, public service-minded people. Then, one day, I was working as a sub at a reference desk when a busload of teens from a group home poured into the library. I was immediately energized about the possibilities inherent in serving these teens for whom the library held so many treasures. I began the application process to library schools almost immediately.

What was your first library job?
I first entered the library profession as a Library Associate sub for Chesterfield County. My first day was spent taking inventory of the oversized book section. The next morning I could barely move my wrists but I went back for more because I loved the coworkers and environment so much!

What is your favorite part of librarianship?
Always: defending free speech (and the other freedoms imbedded in the First Amendment) and leveling the playing field. These aspects of librarianship motivate me every single day, and it is an honor to work in a profession that cherishes them. Incidentally, I think they are intrinsically tied together. The freedoms of religion, speech, press, and assembly create fertile soil for equality.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you on the job?
I was dressed up as Glinda one Halloween—flowing dress, mega-long wavy hair, gobs of make-up, and large fairy wings. Little children were mesmerized. After my stint on the reference desk, I went back to my office area to work. I got a call that people had arrived for an appointment with me (I split my time between reference and a nonprofit center). I jumped out of my seat to go meet them. It took a few moments before I realized that I was sitting there being quite serious about their nonprofit research questions, while wearing my fairy wings. They were too polite to ask!

If you could have anything in the universe installed in your office for your personal use, what would it be?
You know, this is a great question and thinking about it makes me realize there is nothing stopping me from installing what I want. I would like filtered water and a Soda Stream because I drink a ton of water and I like it fizzy.

What is something your colleagues would be surprised to know about you?
I can't imagine. I'm a wide-open book, for better or worse.

Interview conducted by Gregg Grunow.
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