October Member Spotlight

Rachel Minkin
Head of Reference Services
Michigan State University

MiALA President 2016-2017
What are you currently reading?
I have two young children so this time of the year, I'm reading the 800 emails, flyers, updates, and assorted other news coming from their two schools. If I'm lucky, it comes in an electronic AND a print format for my reading pleasure! When I'm not fully immersed in the heady literature of second and fifth grade administrivia, I'm just not reading all that much. (Can I say that here?) One friend dumped a stack of Jodi Picoult on me; I'm not sure that's my vibe and I'd rather reread favorites like Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach trilogy.

What are your research interests?
Just since the end of August, I've been investigating work life balance (also called work life fit). There's tons out there on the topic and I'm just skimming the top right now. What does work life balance mean for public service librarians? Is this akin to what we see in other service industries? I'll let you know if I figure it out.

Do you have hobbies or interests outside of the library?
Oh I do lots of things that aren't library related! I take piano lessons for starters! I'm not Sue's only adult student but I'm one of only two who regularly play in our recitals. Sure, those kids may play stupendously but I still tower over them. Most of them anyway.

I have a side gig too. I change from Librarian Rachel to HaMorah Rachel on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings as I teach the b'nei mitzvah class at Congregation Shaarey Zedek (East Lansing).

Last but not least, I'm inordinately fond of my houseplants and officeplants (yes, that should be one word, like houseplants) and ask them questions when I think no one's in ear shot. To keep them happy, I'm always watering, repotting, trimming, etc. Really just fussing over them.

What drew you to the library profession?
When I was in graduate school, I had a librarian named Anne who knew, literally, all the things there was to know on my topic. And, unlike my professors, she could help me find materials so that I could ALSO know all the things. She kept no secrets; there was no hidden knowledge. Anne would literally pull something off a shelf and say, "Start here."

So, I went off to do something completely unrelated to libraries. But in the back of my mind, I thought about Anne.. a lot. One day, I called her and said, "Anne, how do I get to be you?"

16 years later, here I am!

What do you value about MiALA?
I value our people! MiALA's value is more than conferences and webinars to me. I value the network it provides, a statewide professional web of advice and knowledge and the synergy that comes out of combining all of these library professionals in a myriad of ways. Plus, I have found some great friends through MiALA. I'd like to say hi to all of them out there!

Is there anything else that you would like to share/include in your member spotlight??
MiALA made my career what it is. Attending MiALA's birth and staying with MiALA through its adolescence has afforded me opportunity to learn some great skills and to meet amazing people from libraries across the state.