Ken Lyons

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Reference and Undergraduate Experience Librarian
Santa Cruz
Years in LAUC: 
14
LAUC Role:
I am ending my second two-year term as UCSC's representative to the LAUC Research and Professional Development Committee.

How did you become interested in librarianship?

My mother had been an acting school librarian before becoming a teacher, and a couple of close friends made the same career choice while I was a postman. I'd always been a record/magazine/book collector and had spent a lot of leisure time in academic libraries in particular. So the seed was there, and on taking a series of aptitude tests in a career-counselling course that all returned a result of 'librarian,' the path was clear. I also very much like(d) the idea of giving people the tools to inform and educate themselves, without being a teacher standing in front of a class every day. Ultimately, the public service, educational (for both myself and the patron), and 'detective' aspects of reference work are the basis of my continued interest in librarianship.

Describe the first time you worked in a library.

Although long an academic librarian, my career began in the public libraries, working part-time and on-call for two different systems. Before attaining my MLIS, I'd never before worked in a library. So, unlike many who begin as library assistants, I began my career as a librarian at Los Gatos Public Library. Because this is a small, one-branch library in a small, easy-going town--and because I had received excellent preparation for reference work in San Jose State's School of Library and Information Science as well as an internship at UCSC Library--I felt well prepared for work as a reference librarian there. As a part-timer, reference was my only responsibility; collection duties and the limited amount of formal instruction were the domain of the full-time librarians.

What do you like best about being a UC librarian?

Although working for such a large institution can have its drawbacks, being a UC librarian affords access to an absolute wealth of system-wide resources that a smaller campus like UCSC could never dream of acquiring on its own. And the knowledge and camaraderie of so many wonderful colleagues across the campuses is priceless. Were it not for my LAUC activities though, it would have been far less likely that I would have gotten to know and work with so many librarians outside of UCSC.

Describe a recent or current project on which you are working.

As a member of UCSC Library's recently constituted Undergraduate Experience Team, we are currently (and concurrently) surveying the undergraduate student population to gauge and assess how they are using the library, its services, and facilities, and how these can be improved to effect greater student success, as well as overseeing a new Library Student Advisory Council.

Describe your recent professional work outside of work, such as association work, writing, research, or anything else.

Aside from LAUC, the organization in which I'm most active is CARL (California Academic & Research Libraries Association), having chaired the poster session selection committee for the 2014 conference, and currently engaging with an SJSU colleague in an attempt to revive CARL-DIG (California Academic Reference Librarians Discussion Interest Group) in northern California.

What would you like the next big thing in libraries to be?

A re-dedication to face-to-face, 'high-touch,' personalized public service and instruction--not because it's how it used to be done, but because study after study proves it works better for the student/user/patron.

Complete this statement: "One surprising fact about me is...”

I've been collecting records across many genres of popular and classical music for fifty years (and piecing together a playback system as close to fidelity for nearly as long).

Can you recommend a book or movie or tell us your favorite book or movie and why?

Book: Fowler's Modern English Usage, because it's an eminently well-informed, erudite, logical, and witty guide to the nuances of English usage--one of the more entertaining reference books you will actually want to read instead of just consult