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Naomi Chow's picture

Naomi Chow -- Aloha!

Aloha from the 50th State!

I am Naomi Ikeda Chow, and I am the interlibrary loan librarian for Hamilton Library at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in Honolulu. The Hawaiian islands provide the challenge of being one of the most geographically isolated locations in the world in terms of furthest from neighboring major land masses. The library provides interlibrary loan and document delivery for the students, faculty, and staff at our land-, sea-, and space-grant research university. Our patrons’ requests require us to seek lenders across the continental U.S. as well as internationally. We also have the privilege of providing access to materials in our collections to libraries and researchers around the world. Being able to successfully connect people with the information they need is very rewarding. And, I have found that the people involved in resource sharing/document delivery around the world, whether in individual libraries or within library consortia, are wonderful and supportive.

I have been a librarian in resource sharing/document delivery (RSDD) since 2009, and have loved every minute of it! My work in RSDD delves into a wide-range of areas including public services, collections, as well as technology. Since library work is multi-faceted, I have found that my experiences, whether gained from the commercial service industry, various types of libraries, or life experience as a parent, provide great skills and knowledge that I draw upon every day in my current position. My previous work background includes positions in academic medical reference services and collection development, and specialized biomedical research support in a small government library. I have also worked in retail as a department store salesperson in my youth, and more recently as a data assistant entering research data into an online database. My background includes an undergraduate degree in combined sociology/anthropology, and a graduate degree in library and information science. My library career has been two-part – early professional work with a break to raise a family – then a return to libraries.

I love to problem solve, whether with “scrambled” citations or tracking down hard-to-find items, as well as figure out how to improve workflow that benefits staff as well as library patrons. My work in an academic research library gives me the opportunity to work with staff from many different library departments. I enjoy being able to draw upon the expertise of colleagues from various subject specialties as well as technical intelligence and strengths, and in turn am able to contribute to the greater organization. Although a medium to larger-sized library may take a little longer to effect change, the overall environment is stimulating and there is possibility to contribute to projects that may have potential to have an impact beyond our one library. For example, I have been able to involve the library in the Occam’s Reader e-book ILL project, an inter-institutional effort through the Greater Western Library Allliance consortia.

The library and information field is ever-evolving and provides ample opportunities to grow and change with it. I feel very fortunate that the field is open to non-traditional career paths, including those who may take time away, such as I did. ALA and RUSA, including the STARS section, have provided invaluable resources for me to become reintroduced to the profession after my nearly decade-long break in service, through online courses, webinars, in-person workshops and courses, as well as the Annual and MidWinter conferences. Librarianship is a great profession where we’re able to provide great service to our patrons while doing something we enjoy including satisfying our own curiosity and love of learning.

Mahalo (thanks) for reading, and I look forward to your questions and comments!

Kirk MacLeod's picture

A quick question to get you started - regarding Inter Library Loan services, were you able to take any coursework on the topic during your time in graduate school, or was it more a hands-on type of training?

Naomi Chow's picture

Hi Kirk.

Thanks for the question.

For myself, it's been on the job training, and opportunities through workshops and training sessions offered by library associations, organizations, consortia, and vendors.

There were not specific courses on resource sharing back in the day of earning my library degree, although, a lot of general library coursework is utilized in day to day operations, including reference (especially in searching for those obscure or mixed up cites), cataloging (to tease out more information from a catalog record for additional information such as an alternate title, series info) and  anything technology related.

I've even been able to draw upon basic background understanding of government documents and technical reports (NTIS) also helps with that good old grey literature (though now days, the internet provides a great place for searching and finding materials).

And now days, there is a growing trend with collaborative and overlapping work between ILL and other library services, such as collection development/acquisitions and reference. So, all kinds of knowledge and skills can be brought in.