Greetings IamRUSA! I am Kate Kosturski, and I'm currently Institutional Participation Coordinator for the United Kingdom and Northern Europe at JSTOR in New York City – which is really a fancy way of saying “I tell everyone in my part of Europe how awesome JSTOR is, and then hopefully they buy some.” If you have been to any ALA conference in the past five years - yes, I am The Girl With The Tiny Hats (the profile pic was taken at ALA Annual 2013 in Chicago).
I received my MSLIS at Pratt Institute, and also have a B.A. in Government/Public Administration from York College of Pennsylvania. I’m active throughout ALA, including NMRT (I'm the current Leadership Development Director), LITA, and of course, RUSA. Within RUSA, I mainly work on special projects - I chaired the RUSA Structure Task Force, and currently work on the RUSA Review Committee. However, I am also active in RSS and CODES. I'm also on the editorial board for Reference and User Services Quarterly (RUSQ).
If you use the popular website I Need a Library Job (INALJ), you may have seen my name there too - I have been head editor for several pages (current Rhode Island) and also now serve as Volunteer Coordinator, helping with placing volunteers in positions on the page.
I’m a 2011 ALA Emerging Leader (in fact, I was the RUSA Emerging Leader, which helped open the door for involvement within the division), so if you have questions on that program, please feel free to ask. Outside of library life, I’m watching baseball, knitting, coding (I have a little bit of background in everything, mainly in HTML, CSS, and Drupal), cooking, playing video games, and taking lots of photos (I just got a DSLR this year). Originally, I am from New Jersey, but now live with my boyfriend (who, incidentally, also has the MLS - he is an archivist for A+E Networks in Stamford, CT) and we both live in Norwalk, CT (about 15 minutes from Stamford, one hour from New York City).
One goal for 2014 is to become more active in gender issues, particularly as to how they relate to our field. I'm an active member of the LibTechWomen group, and I will be on a panel on the topic at ALA Midwinter 2014 (and possibly Code4Lib 2014).
You can follow me on Twitter at @librarian_kate and find my portfolio online at http://www.katekosturski.info.
Kate - how do you do all of that and stay sane? I'm involved with a couple of orgs (Hack Library School, ARLIS, My Info Quest) in addition to INALJ and those committments plus a full time job plus nearly full time graduate school plus conference & professional development stuff can feel overwhelming!
The biggest secret to keeping sane is to work smarter, not harder. Instead of seeing how much you can cram into one day, think about when you are the most (and least productive), as well as times that are normally free that you don't often think of as work time, and what tasks (if any) can fit in there. When I was in library school, I was working full time and commuting an hour one way via bus. Those hours of uninterrupted time on the road were great for studying. I'm also a morning person, so I know to tackle larger projects first thing in the morning, rather than in the evening.
It's also important to know your limits, accept that you do have them, and voice them to others. When I was offered to be the volunteer coordinator of INALJ, I knew I couldn't do that and run the New York City state page (which I was doing solo, without a co-Head Editor, for several weeks). I mentioned this and was then assigned a page with lower volume.
If you're still in school, and working full time, try to compartmentalize these two aspects of your life. Leave work at work, and school at school - in other words, don't spend your day at the office worrying about schoolwork that needs to get done, and don't spend your time on campus worrying about work. This is a strategy I still practice today. When I get on the train to commute to or from work, that's my "me" time - I don't try and finish off what I didn't get done at the office (like I see most people do), I relax. Occasionally I will answer an email or two (mainly in the morning, since I report to someone based in Florence, Italy, and it may be the only time I can catch her!), but nothing past that level of activity.
I also look for committees that have a commitment to virtual work. Group meetings are important, but if we can collaborate over email or shared documents, that takes a lot less time than an hour long meeting.
Did you expect that working for JSTOR or a vendor or publisher would be your career path? How do you feel that uses your MLIS skills? What do you like most about working for a vendor? Is there anything you miss about not being in a library? I have so many questions!
M. Kathleen Kern
A very good set of questions! (And if you have more, please do ask more!)
Did I expect that this would be my career path after library school? No. In fact, I was hard core on going into academia (and before that, art librarianship). It just happened that a classmate of mine who worked at JSTOR mentioned they needed temp help on a project, so I decided, why the heck not? Interviewed on a Wednesday, started on a Monday. They weren't even sure they were going to hire me full time - three months after I started, I was told "we don't have the budget to bring you on full time" and then three months after that, they apparently found the money. :) I will celebrate my third anniversary of full time work with JSTOR (and four different job titles!) in April 2014.
I find I am using my background in collection development quite a bit, especially when we launched Books at JSTOR. Most of our sales staff does not have the MLS (at last count, I think it was around 8, including myself), so we end up de-mystifying many terms and acronyms that librarians use. I have a bad habit of watching co-workers write down "What is X?" in their notes in meetings, then grabbing their notepad and writing a response!
The person who hired me at JSTOR (who is no longer my boss due to a department restructuring, but still a very good friend) once described this job as "librarianship at 30,000 feet" - you get a bird's eye view of the profession, and issues affecting all libraries, not just your own institution. Because I work with colleges and universities of all sizes, secondary school, research institutions, public libraries, national libraries, and museums, I get a broad perspective on the issues facing all these kinds of libraries and their collection development approaches. (Since these schools are also in Europe, I also gain a good international perspective on librarianship.)
What do I miss about not being in a library? I fear my reference and instruction skills are lacking, so if I ever want to move into that field, it will be a challenge. Sadly, there is also still a prejudice in our profession against those librarians who work for vendors - that we're not "real" librarians, that we sold out, etc. (The co-worker that hired me was once told she needed to "get out of that vendor job before you're no longer taken seriously as a librarian.") It's affected how I view professional development - I've run for ALA Council three times and lost every time, and fear that one of the reasons I did lose was because of my place of employment. Thus I had to make the decision not to run for Council again until I leave JSTOR, which is sad - but if that is the game that some of our voting librarians want to play, then I must also play it.
For further thoughts on this from myself and others in non-traditional library careers, you may want to pick up the April 2012 issue of Against the Grain, which made this its feature topic for the issue.
Wow that's sad. We are information professionals, so it should not matter where one works!
I work for an association using some of my library skills, but primarily manage research projects and surveys and then moonlight as a reference librarian at a community college.