Member Spotlight - Kim Tipton

March 11, 2024

This week's member spotlight is on Kim Tipton. Kim is a reference librarian at McHenry County College and is the current chair of the Illinois Association of College and Research Libraries Forum (IACRL) Communications Committee. 

We asked Kim to tell us a little about herself and answer a few professional and amusing questions. Continue reading to find out more about Kim. 

A little background on Kim

I’ve been a Reference Librarian at the McHenry County College Library for 5 1⁄2 years now. My role there primarily consists of teaching one-shot information literacy instruction sessions throughout the semester, as well as providing research help in the library.

I’m also the Faculty Advisor for our student book club, It’s Lit: The No-Book Book Club. This gives me an opportunity to get to know our students outside the classroom when the group meets to talk about their favorite books and connect with one another. I hope our students see our library as a place where everyone is welcome, whether they come to do research, meet with friends, or take a quiet moment and work on one of our puzzles.

When I’m not working, I enjoy photography, hiking the many trails of our local conservation district, and traveling with my family.

How did you get your start in libraries?

Working in libraries is a second career for me, one I came to later in life. In my “previous life,” I was a technical writer for various software companies. Eventually I found my way to libraries in 2007 as a Library Technical Assistant in our local public library. In 2016, I started my MLIS degree from the iSchool at University of Illinois and graduated in 2018. For a year, I worked part time at both the public library and the McHenry County College library, until I realized just how much I enjoy teaching and helping our college students with research, so I made the hard decision to leave the public library after 12 years there to be the Reference Librarian at MCC.

Best advice you've received since starting your career in libraries?

It’s ok to say, “I don’t know” or ask for help. It can make us feel vulnerable, but you don’t have to have all the answers. A library is a community and everyone has their strengths, so find yours and those of your colleagues. Some of my favorite early reference desk moments were times I was stuck and had to bring in a colleague to help answer an unusual question for a patron.

Any advice to newcomers working in libraries? 

Get involved! Look for ways to help the library community beyond the walls of the library. With the issues we're facing today, every voice, every idea, every contribution matters. That said, I think librarians are helpers and it’s in our nature to say yes to a lot of things and overextend ourselves. So, get involved but remember that it’s ok to say no to some things.

When and why did you become a member of ILA?

I first became a member of ILA as a student in 2017. I saw it as a way to get to know more about library work on a local level and learn more about the issues our state’s libraries were facing.

How has being a member of ILA helped you professionally? 

Being a member of ILA has helped me grow my leadership skills, helped me get to know other library workers, and contribute to the profession on a higher level. When I was ready to submit my first conference proposal, ILA staff answered my questions and even helped find me a co-presenter! In the few short years I’ve been a member, I’ve been fortunate to work with and learn from so many talented library workers, something I couldn’t have done without ILA. 

What is your proudest professional achievement to date?

This past semester, I co-taught my first ever for-credit 8-week online course on research and information ethics. My colleague and I created the course from scratch, which was so overwhelming at first! Once the class started though, it was so fun to see our students work through the materials, engage in lively discussion posts, and successfully complete the final project. I’m immensely proud to have been a part of that.

Hardcover, paperback, e-reader, audiobook, or all?

Hardcover and paperback most of the time, but I love my e-reader when I’m traveling!

Favorite authors?

I don’t have any one favorite author – I'll read just about anything! However, I recently read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (which quickly became my favorite book!) and discovered that I really enjoy mythology!

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what five books would you bring with you to pass the time until being rescued?

  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
  • A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman 
  • Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce 
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  • Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman

 Cat or Dog?

Though I don’t have any pets, I really love dogs!

Favorite film, podcast, or television show? 

I love anything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe! I have watched those movies a thousand times over and never tire of them. I also love rewatching old sitcoms like The Golden Girls, Frasier, and Friends.

One person you would like to meet, dead or alive why?

I think I would like to meet Amelia Earhart. Years ago I read a YA biography about her and really enjoyed reading about how adventurous she was. For example, when she and her family visited the 1905 World’s Fair, her mother wouldn’t let her ride the roller coaster because she considered it too dangerous for a young girl. When they returned home, Amelia built her own roller coaster in their yard with wooden boards and baby buggy wheels! She’s also the author of one of my favorite quotes: “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”

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