When people hear the word “library” a few things typically come to mind, namely librarians and books. But a library is run by people working in many different roles. They’re all helping community members with much more than book recommendations. Our series Spend a Day with a Library Worker takes you inside the lives of our library staff in different roles and follows them on a typical workday.
The role of Library Customer Advisers at CHPL vary depending on the interests of each individual staff member. For Corrie Schuster, her position involves everything from connecting with kids to co-chairing the Black Events and Exhibits Committee (BEEC). If there’s one thing that’s true, it’s that no two days are ever the same.
Journey of a Future Librarian
Corrie started working at the Library when she was 18. "I had just graduated high school and was looking for a flexible part-time job," she said. "Admittedly, I hadn’t thought of my job at the Library as my future career. I had thought I’d work here throughout college, and then move on. I soon realized that I was really passionate about public libraries and the services we offer our community. I am now pursuing my Masters in Library and Information Science degree to become a children’s librarian."
Corrie has a bachelor’s degree in Nonprofit and Community Studies and found a lot of what she learned as an undergraduate is applicable to the library. "The Library is so much more than just books; we also provide job assistance, homework help, and a safe place to escape to relax, and explore," she said.
Hustle and Bustle
One of the things Corrie loves about working at the Mariemont Branch Library is getting to do a lot of different tasks throughout the day. "Before the Library opens, my coworkers and I start off by emptying the return bin, pulling any expired holds from the holds shelf, and unpacking our morning book delivery," she said. "We also work on pulling requests that are being sent to different locations and check in our quarantined bins of returns."
"Once our opening duties are done, I usually take some time to check my emails and make a list of the things I need to complete that day. I only work three days a week, so I try to stay very organized so I don’t get behind on any emails or projects. Then, I usually check on our teacher collections to see if any are ready for pickup. I assist the children’s and teen librarians with maintaining teacher collection requests so that teachers get what they need as soon as possible. I spend the rest of my day either being on the reference desk, assisting with phone and curbside duty, or working on other projects."
Serving the Community on Committees
One of the things Corrie finds most fulfilling about her job is participating in several different committees. She is currently the co-chair of the Library’s Black Events and Exhibits Committee (BEEC), her branch’s representative for the Staff Morale Committee, and a steering committee member for the Ohio Library Support Staff Institute.
The BEEC is tasked with creating programming and content that is reflective of the Black experience. "While all Library employees should be aware of the needs and interests of people from all backgrounds, it’s important to have a group that helps ensure that marginalized groups are at the forefront of the Library’s mind and work,” said Corrie. “I first joined BEEC as a member in 2019 because I was interested in helping the Library to meet our diversity and inclusion goals as an organization. While all of CHPL’s programming is open to anyone, I think it’s important to recognize that BIPOC customers may feel less represented in our initiatives, so it’s important that we shine a light on their interests."
Corrie is especially proud of the Black Speculative Fiction Authors panel that BEEC put together with help from Cincinnati's Midwest Black Speculative Fiction Alliance. "We were able to bring several Black authors together to discuss their work and their experiences as Black writers," said Corrie. "A lot of the attendees were people of color, and it was really powerful to see people connect over shared experiences and interests."
Watch the Black Speculative Fiction Authors panel discussion:
"One of our programs that I’m most proud of is our Black Maternity Matters series. My co-chair, Allison Jacobs, worked really hard with Cradle Cincinnati to create a series that helps inform new parents about things such as breastfeeding and nutrition. The series goes through May, so there is still time to attend for anyone interested. Plus, there are opportunities to win free books."
Beyond her work with BEEC, Corrie also deeply values the work she gets to do in the children’s section at her branch. "I am responsible for keeping our children’s holiday and seasonal section up to date and I also have a monthly display I get to create," she said. "One of my favorite displays I’ve done is a dinosaur-themed display, that included some fun fact cards for kids."
"I also really enjoy staying up to date with new children’s literature. I really love the increasing number of diverse books within the last couple of years. I think now more than ever kids can find books that relate to their own experiences and learn about those who are different from themselves."
Visit Corrie’s seasonal book selections in person at the Mariemont Branch Library.