interviewing librarians at JCLC – part 1

Joint Librarians of Color Conference 2012 - Kansas City, MO

Joint Librarians of Color Conference 2012 – Kansas City, MO

I recently attended JCLC 2012 in Kansas City, MO armed with a flip camera and a badge that read “I’m a student and I would like to interview you.”  It allowed people to know that I was a student with questions and an opportunity to offer their time without cornering them into a conversation.  I was often asked whose idea the badge was, to which I freely admitted the crazy idea was my own.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get any takers for a video interview, but many people were kind enough to stop a moment to allow me to interview them.  I explained that I was taking a class called the Hyperlinked Library with Michael Stephens and we were exploring services offered by libraries that invited their customers to participate and contribute in some way.

I had two questions:

  • How does your library invite or allow customers to participate in the library?
  • In what ways does your library engage your community?

This will be the first in a series of three blog posts to share with three participatory library services that left a significant impression upon me.


The City Library

The City Library - The back of Mr. Safiullah's business card

The City Library – The back of Mr. Safiullah’s business card

This first post is about my last interview.  I met Mr. Safi Safiullah outside the hotel while trying to figure out how I missed my airport shuttle reservation.  I recognized him from the conference, but never had an opportunity to meet him.  As it turned out, we both missed our shuttle.  Once we settled in to wait for the next shuttle, we chatted a bit and he asked what sort of library I might be interested in.  I won’t suffer you my answer, but I did find out that he is the Program Manager for The City Library of The Salt Lake City Public Library System.

As our conversation continued Mr. Safiullah mentioned they have a mobile media center, which piqued my interest very much.  It turns out that it is an extension of their Technology Center which provides access to computers and various media equipment.  It appears that in the beginning the equipment was transported using private vehicles, but the library recently purchased an SUV and has the computers in protective briefcases for ease of transport to various places in the community.  The mobile media center visits Senior Centers and Community Centers where they provide the equipment to train people how to use technology, such as setting up an email account or whatever they want or need to learn on the computer.    The program has been around for several years, is library funded and now involves several people on their staff.

I really appreciate that The City Library is stepping out of its physical location to provide important services like their mobile media center; it’s a wonderful example of a participatory service.  …I also noticed a phrase after Mr. Safiullah’s title on his card:  “Exploring New Ideas”  I don’t know if it’s on everyone’s card that works in this library system, but putting it out there kind of gives people permission to talk about it and offer up their own ideas.  Pretty awesome!

Thank you, Mr. Safiullah!


Library profile