New Librarian: A Pro at Overcoming Obstacles

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Art by Annemarie Mullet

Emma Olson, Opinions Editor

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Maureen Barney’s office is about what you’d expect from a librarian, but there is one oddity: the boxes.

“You’re the first person who’s been in here,” Barney tells me as I pull up a seat. “Besides me.”

The Linfield community doesn’t ignore the library that much. I’m Barney’s first visitor because she’s new here.

She worked at Concordia University for ten years before it closed down for good. “They shut down very suddenly. It was quite the shock to the faculty and the students,” said Barney, who now works as Linfield’s information literacy librarian.

However, she has easily adapted to a sudden lifestyle change better than most, and this isn’t only the case with her new job. She has also found that adjusting to complications related to COVID-19 have been a piece of cake.

Life at Linfield is surprisingly similar to life at Concordia was, according to Barney. Not only is this because both universities are—were—small, private schools, but also due to the general atmosphere. 

“The friendly, kind of family vibe that I feel with the faculty here is the same that Concordia had,” Barney says. “So in that way, moving here has been easy because I can see that people like each other and care about people here.”

This vibe doesn’t just come from being a new librarian. As well as being the information literacy librarian at Linfield, Barney is a visiting associate professor co-teaching an INQS class. She’s gotten to see Linfield’s community not only through a librarian lens, but also from that of a professor.

Additionally, teaching classes social-distance style is old news for her. “For me, it actually hasn’t been that big of a shift because my focus at Concordia was with the online graduate students, so I was used to interacting with students over Zoom, email, phone, and you know, only seeing a small portion in person,” she explains.

“So, in that way, I think I’m ahead of the curve.”

Because of Linfield’s similar atmosphere to Concordia and her experience with teaching online, Barney’s a pro at adapting to unexpected situations. However, some things are definitely different. The most obvious factor: masks.

“It is a little disconcerting to only see people’s eyes,” says Barney. “I have appreciated having to do class by Zoom during the fires, because I was actually able to see students’ whole faces.” 

This doesn’t affect her much though. After all, she has a lot more to think about in her life. Even if she wasn’t working as an information literacy librarian and teaching her INQS class, Barney would still have a full plate.

“I’m finishing up my PhD,” she drops in the middle of our conversation about online classes, as casually as if she’d said, “I had a sandwich for lunch today.”

She’s studying Technical Communication and Rhetoric online through Texas Tech University, a degree which would help her both as a librarian and a professor. Rhetoric and composition, which is what Barney is focusing on, is about teaching students how to write.

This isn’t everything on her busy schedule. Somehow, on top of teaching, being a librarian, and pursuing a PhD, Barney has time for hobbies. “I knit; I also like to quilt. I’m a voracious reader. I like to garden,” she says. “And then your typical, you know, binge-watching on Netflix.”

Barney says she’s currently on season three of Glee. “I never watched it when it first came out,” she explains with a laugh. “When it came out, I had young children, and … I pretty much only watched kids’ stuff. So I like to go back and watch things for adults.”

As I left her office, Barney told me to tell my peers if they need help with research, they shouldn’t hesitate to shoot her an email.