Michelle Polchow

Electronic Resources Librarian
When did you start in your current position?:
Aug 08, 2018
Years in LAUC: 
LAUC Role:
Vice-chair/chair elect for the LAUC-D Program Committee

How did you become interested in librarianship?

As a second career, I began taking computer courses, eventually accumulating sufficient credits to earn a web design management certification. I was particularly interested in information architecture. Through a public library book on internet careers, the suggestion for librarianship resonated as as a potential career path. While earning my MSLIS at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, I served as the school’s website manager. As the D.C. area is a treasure trove of libraries (e.g. Library of Congress, National Library of Medicine, Smithsonian Libraries, etc.), I was soon won over by the mission and professional ethics of librarianship. However, web design, information architecture and user interface design are complementary skills to support my work as an Electronic Resources Librarian.

Describe the first time you worked in a library.

During library school I volunteered at The Textile Museum Library, which is where I learned to catalog. I also maintained serials, created reading lists for docents, and assisted in a transition to a new ILS system. As this was typically a one-person operation, I also provided reference services and provided tours.

What is your current or recent role in LAUC, either locally or systemwide?: 

Currently I am the vice-chair/chair elect for the LAUC-D Program Committee. My first career was in national and international meeting planning for the National Conference of State Legislatures, so planning program events is a role I really enjoy. In 2019, I received a grant to attend the LAUC Assembly at UCR, which as a new librarian, was an excellent orientation to the larger organization.

What do you like best about being a UC librarian?

I work with fabulous colleagues who are exceedingly knowledgeable and generously share their expertise. The teamwork, knowledge building and innovation creates a great environment to serve as a UC librarian.

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

I recently helped to complete UCD’s Electronic Resources Task Force report, following ten months in service as co-chair. Although the UCD Library undertook a major library system migration from Aleph to Alma in 2016, it was accomplished while the role of electronic resources librarian was vacant and without prior operational workflows using an electronic resources management system. Given my first year on the job, this was a significant undertaking to retroactively analyze cause and effect in a highly customized system, and bring new insights and recommendations for continual improvement.

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

After spending several years licensing electronic resources, I am passionate about libraries and users retaining their copyright privileges in the digital era. As an advocate for understanding and promoting library e-rights, I have presented at MLIS classes for Catholic University’s Copyright Institute in conjunction with US Copyright Officer, as well as at Miami University Library’s Copyright Conference. I am a member of NASIG’s Digital Preservation Committee and will present at the 2020 NASIG Annual Meeting on the risk of long-term access to licensed e-resources. I also serve as an officer for Northern California Technical Processes Group (NCTPG), and am helping with a new 2019-20 initiative to provide geographically dispersed events for networking and professional learning opportunities through library tours.

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

I’m impatient for libraries to adopt multiple tools to query full-text e-collections and specifically am a huge fan of Yewno Discovery Platform. I think creativity and invention could be well-served with multiple library discovery platforms using a variety of algorithms for search, as well as re-establishing a modernized connection with users. As a former participant in ‘big data’ text mining research (examined more than 15,000 virtual reference chat conversations), future scholarship requires the ability to comprehend computational graph data, semantic connections and conceptual linking to draw inferences and extract insights in the information overload era. Currently, web discovery systems can be cumbersome and unengaging when it comes to surfacing the library’s wealth of unknown resources.

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

UCD is a land-grant university and therefore part of a network using Cooperative Extension (CE). This component of UCD has been a type of homecoming for me, for as far back as grade school, I was active with this network as a 4-H member. This is where I developed a passion for sewing and all textile arts, with such enthusiasm that by seventh grade, I made most of my own clothes. As I got older, 4-H opened leadership experiences including camp counselor, camp director, state 4-H officer and delegate to the National Congress in Washington, D.C. In my spare time I still knit an occasional scarf and enjoy quilting.

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

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown is a favorite, as a nonfiction book that reads like a novel. I enjoy ‘watching’ the library research unfold in story form. Always a history genre fan, the themes of overcoming hardship and teamwork within both a political and competitive context make for a great read. Additionally, the story connects to my own family history, as a fourth generation Oregonian, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and am proud of many skilled woodcrafters in my family, originating from this era.

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