Monday, November 12, 2012

Ben Waymouth

I graduated from Taylor University in ‘96 with a BS in Social Studies Education and then taught every subject I was licensed for at various levels, grades 7-12.  I completed my MLS from IU SLIS program in 2007.  I left the classroom in 2006 to work as Media Specialist for grades 9-12.

Due to attrition I served grades 5-12 as Media Specialist - 3 buildings - during ‘10-’11 school year.  This is my second year as K-12 Director for the entire corporation.  A strained budget and 1:1 implementation in my district has created my current position.


I manage all seven libraries in our district with help from a staff of seven hourly assistants.  My duties revolve around information literacy, purchasing of print and electronic resources, 1:1 circulation, inventory, and tech support, library and reading program administration, managing a staff, and the daunting task of collection development at all buildings.

What would most surprise people about your current job?

The variety that each day brings: never boring, dull, or mundane!  The degree to which I have to know, use, implement, and leverage technology surprises people constantly.  

How do you manage your time?

I operate off a monthly calender that I share with admins and my assistants so they can see where I’m working, if I’m away from my office.  I work out of the high school library where my “original” office has been since I started in the library.  It’s the best environment for me as it allows me to get the most accomplished.  I schedule visits to each building to meet with my assistants face to face about every 2-3 weeks.

Who is your greatest ally and why?

English teachers and Social Studies teachers.  Those content areas are more apt to need research and require reading as part of a grade in their coursework.  Math people have very few curriculum connections to the library.  Science people in my district seek their resources elsewhere (not for my lack of trying!!)  

Also, students who are voracious readers. I bust my buns trying to connect and develop relationships with students as they’re THE reason our libraries do what we do!

How do you stay current?

Twitter is a GREAT tool to share and aggregate resources; both for staff and students.  I subscribe to several magazines to stay current in trends, tech, and practices.  SLJ, LMC, Teacher Librarian, School Library Monthly, Kirkus Reviews just to name a few.  Finding time to read each one is often a challenge.  Attending conferences is something I’ve been unable to do lately with my K-12 position.  I need and want to attend more conferences but worry about the value versus the time away from school.  

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

Having to relinquish / delegate duties that a certified media specialist should be handling is tough on the soul.  It devalues my degree and the profession.  They [the paraprofessionals] are great, experienced, and mean well, however only one of my assistants has library professional training.  Their fixed schedules don’t allow them much flexibility to conquer tasks outside of clerical duties, and consequently I’m left to pick up what they run out of time to do that I’ve delegated to them.  Being spread so thin and being unable to perform deep rich work at each building makes me feel many days I’ve accomplished little if anything at all.  Disillusionment is a problem that plagues me as director.  Collection development is a challenge that I don’t feel I can truly tackle; I do the best I can relying on the help I have.


How can you get the most out of attending conferences?

Avoid vendors at conferences unless you have a specific need.  Attend as many breakout sessions as possible, that’s where mentors present, where ideas flow, where you gather insights.  Most beneficial is the confirmation that what your doing for your patrons is ahead of others in the room (pat on the back).

Map out multiple sessions for each time slot.  Some sessions are a bust; description doesn’t fit what’s presented in the first 15 minutes.  Jump to your second or third choice.

Ask about Twitter official hashtags at conference registration tables to gather quotes or links to resources; especially from people who attended sessions you didn’t attend.

What’s something you wish you had known when you started out in this profession?

Library staffing is first to cut when budgets get lean.  My two colleagues didn’t retire; their positions were ended forever.  I had to assume more and more duties back to back years while fearing for my own longevity.  Hard to complain when those around you are loosing their jobs.  

I wish I would’ve taken cataloging first.  Data is the hinge for library catalogs / automation systems.  Knowing how to properly add acquisitions early in your career is essential.  If you don’t know how the catalog works you can’t teach students or lead folks to your resources.

I also wish I would’ve taken collection development towards the end of my MLS course work.  I would’ve gotten more practical use out of the class I feel.  What was being offered and what fit my academic schedule was at fault.

What should you look for in a mentor?

Vision, experience, and wisdom.  Someone who shows the ability to conquer accurately many tasks in the framework of given amount of time.  Someone who sees the admin perspective and the classroom person perspective; balances those viewpoints and can advise what’s best for “kids” not what’s best for programs.  
How do you respond when someone asks you, “Isn’t everything online?”

Agree with them...then make the do you trust that info for authority and fidelity?  How do you get multiple sources of information that corroborate the same opinion and or perspective?  Print resources often provide a checks and balances on digital sources due to the editing process.  However, authority and information fidelity reign supreme...regardless of the venue, platform, or format.


You can have any superpower; what would it be?

Would love to time travel - backward and forward in time - love the mystique of the Back to the Future films!

Paper or digital?

I’m having a hard time holding a book because I enjoy my single sided Nook Glowlight and iPad.  Having to jockey the book around is proving a small but big annoyance.  My fingers like to tap to flip pages - smaller motor skills.  Also I’m finding I’m highlighting and looking up words in the books I’m reading.  The fact I can push my Kindle highlights to my Evernote account for sharing with others has proven beneficial lately professionally.
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