Member Spotlight - Betsy MahoneyMarch 21, 2022
This week's member spotlight is on Betsy Mahoney. Betsy is a co-chair of the ILA Intellectual Freedom Committee and the chair of the Reaching Forward South Conference Committee. We asked Betsy to tell use a little bit about herself and to answer a few professional and amusing questions. Continue reading to find out more about Betsy.
A little bit about Betsy
Libraries have always been a part of my earliest memories. My mom is a retired librarian and served on numerous boards and committees. So much so, I played “board meeting” as a small child. It really involved stamping lots of sheets of paper, but it felt very important. In my kid brain, libraries were a place to work and go to meetings. I did not know libraries were magic until I started to work in one!
Over my career I have been lucky to work in various library types. I currently work at the Six Mile Regional Library District. Prior to that I worked at a county law library and the former Lewis and Clark Library System. These experiences have given me a broad view of library services and how vital each library type is to the communities they serve.
When I am not working, most of the year you will find me in the garden listening to an audiobook. In the winter, I’ll be curled up with a cat listening to an audiobook or binge watching cooking competitions.
How did you get into libraries?
I started as a shelver at my local library during summers. Growing up, I was a painfully shy introvert (I still am), but I was able to find my place and my voice while working at the library. I would chit chat with the staff and the patrons with ease. When I thought about my career and what I wanted to achieve, I knew I wanted to serve communities and work at a place that made painfully shy kids/teens/emerging adults welcome. For me that place will always be libraries and I hope I make others feel that way in a library as well!
Best advice you've received since starting your career in libraries?
Always have an elevator speech ready to go. You never know who is going to question you at a community event or the grocery store.
Any advice to newcomers working in libraries?
Get to know your patrons - it makes the job much more fun! It also helps build relationships in the community and garner more support for your library.
When and why did you become a member of ILA?
I became a member when I started at Six Mile Regional Library District in 2015. Mainly, I was excited about the annual conference so I could grow professionally as a public librarian. By joining committees like Public Policy and Intellectual Freedom, I gained a much deeper appreciation of all the work ILA does and how it supports libraries and librarians. It has made me a more well-rounded librarian.
What is your proudest professional achievement to date?
During one of our outreach events, someone suggested a yarn/knitting club program at the library. Based on the suggestion, I developed a monthly meeting, provided a few snacks, and hoped people would show up. Seventeen people showed up and continued to show up month after month, year after year. It seems like such a small thing, but I have watched this group of strangers become close friends and create a new community for themselves. They do charitable knitting and crocheting for community organizations and support each other through difficult times. I am so immensely proud that the quick, pick up library program has had such an impact on the participants.
Hardcover, paperback, e-reader, or all three?
Where is the audiobook option?!
It depends on what I am in the mood to read, but I will always read Ann Patchett, Sarah Vowell, Geraldine Brooks, or Helene Tursten.
If you were stuck on a deserted island, what five books would you bring with you to pass the time until being rescued?
I would take a bestseller series that I have always meant to start, like Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache or Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series.
Cat or Dog?
Favorite film, podcast, or television show?
Top Chef. For obvious reasons, season 4 with Stephanie Izard is the best.
One person you would like to meet, dead or alive, and why?
Bobby Knight. What can I say? I am a Hoosier through and through….