Our staff spotlight this month is Anjali Bhasin, Public Services Librarian at the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) Library. Anjali was kind enough to sit down and chat with us the day after returning from a whirlwind trip to Chicago for the ALA Annual Conference. Read on to learn more about Anjali’s work, hobbies, and recommend reads.
News: Can you tell me a little bit about what you do here at the SLIS Library?
AB: Well, every day is a little bit different. Since SLIS is a small library and I’m the only full time librarian here , I have a variety of responsibilities. I work to really support students, faculty, and staff and teaching and learning within the department. The core mission of the SLIS Library is to be a learning laboratory where students can gain hands-on experiences. I try my best to provide SLIS students opportunities to offer and act on new ideas. I manage and mentor staff, daily operations, instruction, reference and research requests, and space related projects. In addition to my library duties, I also teach a three-credit SLIS class, the LILI practicum. Additionally, I am engaged with a number of department activities like graduation, orientation, and working with the student groups.
One of the things about working in a small library is that in some ways you’re doing a little bit of everything. I often think that as a small library in a bigger system, I have access to the best of two worlds. I love my job and feel really lucky to work with all of the great people at SLIS and in the library system.
News: What is your favorite part of your job?
AB: Working with the students! I think that is by far my favorite part; it’s the people I work with. I enjoy working with our master’s students, working with our doctoral students—whether it’s on class assignments, helping them prep for job interviews, etc. I also really love working with faculty and staff.
News: How did you become interested in librarianship?
AB: I had worked on political campaigns in the past and I was the Assistant Director of the Associated Students of Madison (ASM) here on campus from 2005 to 2009. As a staff member with ASM, I helped students, faculty, and staff who were interested in creating social change. I liked doing that type of work, but I knew it wasn’t sustainable long-term. I wanted a career that had social value, to be able to build relationships, to influence communities in a positive way. In addition, I recognized that libraries were important to me as a young person as they provided a place of safety when growing up in otherwise chaotic Las Vegas, Nevada.
News: What do you do for fun outside of work?
AB: I love riding my bike and I rode the Horribly Hilly Hundreds, a hill ride in Blue Mounds, last summer. I can’t wait for the weather to warm up so I can start riding long distances again. I also like spending time with friends, cooking, going to shows, summer festivals, winter reading, and laughing.
News: Any all-time favorite books or must-read authors you would recommend?
AB: I read a number of good books this winter. My favorite book of this year was The Roundhouse by Louise Erdrich. That is the best book I’ve read in a long time. And I love Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett, too. And upon the recommendation of several librarians, I just read Jonathan Tropper’s The Book of Joe. But by far, I loved The Roundhouse. If Louise Erdrich came here, I would drop everything to see her.
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