Firsthand experience and lifelong lessons: Librarianship at Innovative


Whether you’re heading “there and back again,” or you “tramp a perpetual journey,” there are countless literary allegories that reaffirm one simple belief: That the trip is just as important as the destination. For the four employees interviewed below, their journeys could not be more different, and yet, they share two things in common: Their tenure at Innovative, part of Clarivate, and their shared careers as librarians.

In this group interview, we asked members of our Customer Success and Sales teams about their background in libraries, and how that informs their work now at Innovative. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

First, thank you for agreeing to speak with us about your work. Could you tell us a bit about how you found your way into library sciences?

Angela (Customer Support): Growing up, the bookmobile was one of my favorite places to go. When I turned sixteen, I wanted to work at either a bookstore or a library—and nowhere else. The bookstore wasn’t hiring, but the library was, and I never left.

In my work at the library, I found that I loved computers and technology. I reveled in the opportunity to learn all that I could about their ILS. The library eventually selected Millenium as their ILS, which gave me a new tool to learn. Eventually, I earned my Master of Library Science degree and became my system’s Information Technology librarian. Which made me responsible for the daily operations of Millenium, and then Sierra and Encore, as well as many other projects at our library.

Rita (Customer Support): I worked as a computer programmer and have a bachelor’s degree in Literature, so librarianship and getting my MLIS was a natural way for me to combine the two—the love for books and their classification and an ability to manage software.
Danette (Sales): Libraries were always a haven for me growing up, but I have to admit, I thought librarians were mean! (laughs) My experience really taught me how wonderful librarians really were.

After working for an industry peer I applied for and was offered a position as a paraprofessional Adult Reference Librarian. Eventually, I went through the process to become a Certified Media Specialist for my local school district, which had me overseeing several collections. Part of my responsibility there included weeding the collections, overseeing the barcode to RFID conversion, helping with programming and ILL, and teaching computer classes.

Christine (Customer Support): My mother tells the story of when I pulled all the books off the shelves in the house when I was a very little girl. Apparently, when she asked me why I had made such a mess, I told her that I wanted to reorganize our collection. This was probably an early warning sign that I was likely to become a cataloger. When I started telling friends and family that I was going for my MSLS, the response was usually, “Well that just makes sense!”

Why are libraries important to you?

Angela: Libraries and librarians are at the forefront of the fight to protect vital freedoms: freedom of speech, and freedom to access information. Additionally, access to information is generally free for anyone who uses the library. Libraries absorb the costs of information access.

It is also one of the only institutions where one can access professional help—from a librarian—without barriers like receptionists, costs, or the need to have an appointment. For instance, I can’t just walk up to my lawyer’s desk or my doctor’s desk and ask for help without writing a check or scheduling an appointment.

On a more personal level, librarians have recommended some of my most favorite books. Librarians are awesome!

Rita: Often, political decisions and people’s minds are informed by the availability of information. That’s what librarianship gives: a curatorial approach to a wealth of books and digital resources that librarians vet to give their patrons only the best and the most reliable sources. I also like that librarians have a democratic approach. A library becomes a community space; it’s not elitist even though librarians themselves are highly educated people.

Danette: Spending seven years working in a public library gave me firsthand knowledge of so many things that I wasn’t aware of before.
On a daily basis, library staff have to deal with a number of human issues. You get a genuine sense of purpose helping people across many walks of life.

Librarians are super smart, caring, well rounded humans that are really fun to be around.

Christine: I love the potential energy that providing access to information can unleash.
The ability to help someone find some book, some story, some fact, some tidbit of information that may transform their world is very important to me.

As a cataloger and reference librarian, I was able to do that directly for my community. As part of the Support team for Polaris, I’m able to help many librarians support their communities.

How has your work as a librarian informed your role at Innovative?

Angela: In my work at the library, I opened support tickets with Innovative’s Customer Service team for Millennium and Sierra. I remember what I expected as a customer, and every day I do my best to ensure that my customers have the same positive experience working with my team at Innovative.

Rita: Innovative allows me immediate access to the community of librarians. I can learn what they are struggling with technology-wise, be on top of library trends, feel professional camaraderie, and earn instant gratification from helping people and getting tickets closed!
Danette: Because of my work at a library, I understand the challenges that they encounter, and I also understand the power of adding products and services that will really help them with their daily challenges.

It wasn’t until after spending time working at a library that I finally understood why removing or adding three clicks to a process was such a big deal! That’s insight that you can only get from experience.

Christine: Having librarians as Site Managers for Polaris means we’re able to build relationships with our libraries based on a shared experience.

Maybe my library didn’t offer a particular service that I’m helping a library implement, but I understand the motivations to serve and provide access. I’m able to draw from my own experience using Polaris to solve issues and make suggestions.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Christine: I love classic cars and have two that I adore driving and showing at car shows. My 1955 Chrysler Windsor is an elegant beauty called Lucy, and my muscle car is a 1973 Dodge Charger named Betty. On the back of the Charger, I have the words, “…and to think she’s a librarian!”

It makes people smile!