Meet Your Library Staff
In this edition of Meet Your Library Staff, we are featuring Alison Hart. She works on our Instruction and Communication team as an Instruction and Communication Support Specialist.
Are you a native Calgarian? If not, how did you choose to live here in Calgary?
Yes, I am a native Calgarian – born and raised. Calgary is my home and it will likely stay that way. Whenever I travel I usually get homesick shortly after I leave and when I return I always seem to have a sense of relief that I am back where I belong. I truly love this city and I don’t think I could live anywhere else!
If you could choose to have a superpower, what would it be?
I don’t know if I would want an actual superpower but sometimes I wish I could be responsible for inventing or creating something really significant or great. Some of my favourite inventors and inventions are Alexander Graham Bell (the telephone), Leonardo da Vinci (flying machines), Benjamin Franklin (bifocals), Hedy Lamarr (secure WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth), Marcellus Gilmore Edson (peanut butter!) and so on… I find it so fascinating that inventors have a desire to fix or improve something or they see a real need for a different or new device and they somehow are actually able to make it happen. And afterwards they enable everyone else, including future generations, to benefit from these inventions. To possess this ability or superpower I think would be fantastic.
What makes you happy?
My family makes me happy. I have two (almost perfect) daughters and various cats and dogs that I enjoy spending time with. Every Sunday (no matter what the weather is), I go on a long-extended dog walk with my youngest daughter and we catch up on all of the events of the day/week. On Sunday evenings, I usually speak with my other daughter who lives in Vancouver. I also have a very large, wonderful, extended family and they are all quite important to me. I am grateful for my family and my pets (and my friends) because they enrich my life, make everything a little messier but mostly better. Coffee and Reese’s peanut butter cups also make me happy and are both absolutely essential to my well-being as well.
What made you choose a career in libraries?
Initially, I wanted to work in a library because I love books and I love to read so working in a library seemed quite obvious. Shortly after I was enrolled in my library information classes here at SAIT, I realized that I was way too busy to read very many books other than the ones that were part of my assignments. Instead, I was learning how important libraries are and I developed a greater appreciation and an understanding of the work done in libraries. I learned that helping other people find the information that they need is very rewarding and meaningful. I have worked at the Library here at SAIT for over 27 years and I still believe that libraries are essential. I'm fortunate to have been able to work with so many amazing, caring, and knowledgeable people.
If you could enroll in any SAIT program, what would it be?
I would like to take a course in the School of Construction. I am curious about some of the Wood Trades programs, possibly carpentry or cabinet making. I would really like to know how to refinish wood furniture, learn more about different types of wood and the finishes to use for wood projects.
I think it would also be beneficial to take some GIS courses too. I currently help students with data retrieval and I know I would be more comfortable if I had a better working knowledge of file management and software applications.
When you talk to your friends, family or visitors about SAIT, what do you tell them?
When I am asked about SAIT, I mention the Highwood Dining Room, the Market Place and the Downtown Campus. It is pretty easy to recommend the food presented by SAIT’s culinary and hospitality programs because everything they make is so good!
The main thing that I talk about is the people who work at SAIT. I feel so fortunate that I am able to connect with so many accomplished members of the SAIT community. Their dedication to facilitating learning and providing students with the skills they need to succeed professionally and personally is extraordinary.
Can you tell us a bit about your role as an Instruction and Communication Support Specialist? Why is this important?
This past year, the main focus of my job was to communicate and promote library services, events, and collections to SAIT students, faculty, and staff online though the Library’s website (with blogs and tip sheets), eNewsletters, and through SAIT calendars and notice boards. When the Library was abruptly closed because of COVID, I worked closely with my colleagues to ensure that we were able to provide online research assistance and resources to our students, faculty and staff. Helping and supporting SAIT students and faculty has always been a fundamental part of my job.
Do you have any advice for anyone considering a career in libraries?
I would tell them to be open minded, flexible, patient and kind. If you plan to work in a library, you really need to be approachable and receptive to people and change. Libraries are always adapting and changing. Library service provides you with so many different learning opportunities and if you are open to the possibilities you can make a huge difference in other people’s lives and your own. Being patient is very useful because you are working with the public. Everyone makes mistakes and we all need to ask for help once in a while. Whenever I am asked a question, I try to treat everyone with courtesy and respect. Being kind is really important because it connects you with other people. It is the cornerstone of customer service, library work, and even happiness.
What part of your work has given you the greatest feeling of achievement and satisfaction?
I genuinely enjoy all of the different aspects of my job but there is one part that I am pretty stoked about and that is my work on the Standards and Codes Collection. It is a comprehensive collection of print and online industrial standards, codes, and specifications which cover everything from the simplest screw thread to the most complex cyber security issues. Standards affect nearly every product or service we encounter in our daily lives and I really enjoy showing SAIT students, faculty, and staff how to understand and access them throughout their academic and professional careers. Learning about standards and codes has been very satisfying and I do feel very fortunate that I have been able to work with my some of my library colleagues and other SAIT faculty building and augmenting this very special collection. It is a wonderful achievement.