I have a new job title! I am now the Outreach, Instruction, and Geospatial Information Librarian. I’m still in charge of the maps here at the Arthur Lakes Library, but notice how geospatial information is last on the list. This is no accident. My priorities have shifted. But it is all good.
Like most of you, my job duties have changed through time. Once I was concentrating on getting people into the Map Room, and now I am concentrating on getting Map Room information to the people. As an outreach librarian, I am tasked with making sure the rest of campus knows what the library has in the way of collections and services, and discovering what the library can do to enhance the campus’ learning, teaching, and research. A former colleague said I should change my title to “Library Ambassador” to which I told my boss that I needed a sash and top hat in order to look official.
I am always making a pitch for maps and geospatial information, and because of my “walkabouts” on campus, have found takers in interesting corners. I have been surprised to find professors who are interested in GIS; these folks never knew that I could assist them. I have found maps on walls of offices and commented to the owners that we have many similar items in the Library.
My opportunities (and duties) to do instruction have taken off, and yet I don’t mind. Like anything, the more I stand in front of classes and teach them about how to do research, or about appropriate information resources, or how to evaluate information, the more comfortable and confident I feel. My talks with professors via outreach are leading to new areas of instruction (at least, new to me and the Colorado School of Mines).
Wither the map collection at Mines? Absolutely not. Increased use of the map collection due to me evangelizing about the library’s collections and services? Yes indeed. I am mindful that I am blessed with the fact that my map collection has been fully cataloged, is in good physical shape, and remains a vital part of the Library’s overall collection. But all of us of have the opportunity to spread the good word about maps and thus make maps more important to the library and campus. Worried about the future of your map collection? Don’t sit back and hope someone will walk in and ask for help. There is the old lament that map librarians wish that “maps would become more integral to classes and research”; what’s stopping you from making this happen?
Christopher J.J. Thiry