I have often thought that I have been fortunate to meet a lot of great people during my time in library school and since then in the working world. While I have thanked many of them in writing and in person, I wanted to reflect on how the combination of people and their support has gotten me to where I am in my professional life.
People tend to have speeches of thanks when they receive an award, but I didn’t want to wait for that kind of opportunity. What prompted me to write this letter of thanks was that despite the fact that I don’t have a permanent full-time position, I feel like I’m in a pretty good place professionally. I just signed on to do another webinar presentation for this fall, and I’m in the process of publishing my first peer-reviewed journal article (woohoo!).
My professional life (starting in school) has been full of opportunities and great experiences. As cliché as it sounds, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of everyone I’ve mentioned below (and probably some whom I may have accidentally left out, who get my sincerest apologies).
While I can thank everyone individually (some of which I have), I also felt it was important to put it together in a single place, because it is truly not the influence of a single person, but a lot of people that have helped me along the way.
I’ve said before that I think reflection is important in development, and I believe reflecting on the positive occurrences is just as important as reflecting on the learning experiences. So, one of the main reasons for writing this piece has been a way for me to reflect on my path from student to budding professional.
If nothing else, I’ve frequently said to people that if I don’t write it down, I’ll forget it, so I’m writing this down because I don’t want to forget.
A Letter of Thanks
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. Like anyone, it is very difficult (and I would like to say, near impossible) to be successful without the support of others, so I would like to take this opportunity to give thanks to everyone who has helped me on my journey as a professional so far.
Getting to Library School
Thanks to everyone who helped me with my application including my references (John Willinsky, Maryam Moayeri, and Michael Greenway), and everyone who helped proofread my submission, but most of all, thank you Sarah Wiebe for telling me what a systems librarian does, encouraging me to apply to library school, and setting me on a career path that allows me to combine my passions of teaching and technology.
When I got into library school, I don’t think I really understood what I was getting myself into (who does?), but things got a bit clearer and easier thanks to many supportive people. Thanks to many memorable people, both students (who often commiserated with me), and instructors (even guest lecturers), too many to name. Thanks to my friends and family, who had to put up with me going through yet another degree. Thanks to the faculty (especially Mary Sue Stephenson, who let me complain or rant in her office then sent me off with sound advice (and chocolate), and Guy Robertson, who helped me with my first contract negotiations), student groups (especially BCLA, which ran its own mentorship program at the time), and my mentors: Alice Darton and Hope Power. It was a large part due to their influence that I signed up to be a BCLA mentor when the program was revived, and have been a mentor in the program ever since.
It was also while I was still in library school with co-op placements and student positions that I started working in the professional library world. I have learnt so much in my various positions since then through the work itself, the people I worked with, and supervisors helping me deal with my mistakes, giving me time to read and write, being flexible about my schedule, and letting me (and in many cases helping pay to) attend (and present at) conferences and other events. So, thanks to all the supportive colleagues I’ve had (including Yvonne Chan, Alan Miller, Tara Robertson, Sabina Iseli-Otto, and so many more), all the supervisors (whether direct or indirect) I’ve had (in chronological order): Chris Ball, Jo-Anne Naslund, Valerie Trinque, Pat Gibson, Fangmin Wang, Liz Bishop, Madeleine Lefebvre, Patricia Cia, Scott Leslie and Ben Hyman. Special thanks goes to Paul Joseph, who coached me through my first year of working in a library while I still a bumbling student.
Thanks goes to all the people who have been references, sent me specific job postings, encouraged me to apply for certain jobs, helped me with job applications, and supported me in numerous other ways including Tara Robertson (who also recommended me for the JIBC consultation gig), Maryann Kempthorne (without whom I wouldn’t have my current and longest contract job), and May Chan (who also stands out for her generous time in helping me develop my technical services expertise). Thanks too of course to all the people who called me in for interviews and who at least gave me a shot at the job, regardless of whether I was offered it in the end.
Code4Lib, LibTechWomen, and the Wider Library Community
I cannot write any kind of thank you without mentioning Code4Lib. I miss going to Code4Lib (went 2012-2014 but not since), because of the people I never get to see otherwise. Before the story goes on, thanks to Code4Lib as a community for all its hard work, and the Diversity scholarship, which got me to my first Code4Lib. At my very first Code4Lib, I ended up MC’ing the last half day, though I’m still not sure exactly how that happened. I’m certain it’s to blame on the same group that were also super welcoming and that I remember sitting with. I would never have become an active member of the conference volunteers if it wasn’t for them: Margaret Heller, Bohyun Kim, and specially, Becky Yoose.
Many of the same women then went on to form LibTechWomen, which has been a great support group, through which I’ve more wonderful colleagues. Thanks to the IRC group for letting me rant, contributors to The Tray, Andromeda Yelton and many others for their sound advice, Mary Jinglewski for your upbeat personality, monthly chats, and more.
While in Ontario, I would not have done as well as I did without my colleagues, friends, and those from the Code4Lib North community. Many of them probably feel like they did very little to support me directly (since I didn’t get to see most of them in person much), but many did support me by being a great influence and/or encouraged me to do things I wouldn’t have otherwise and continue to do, including Mita Williams, MJ Suhonos, and John Fink.
I only went to LibTechConf once, but it was a great experience, not least of which because I finally got to meet Matthew Reidsma in person. Thank you for all the awesome work that you do (and I know for a fact that you have a fanclub, whether you know (or deny it) or not), inviting me to make and hack on ThisIsMySearch until almost midnight at the hotel bar, and all your encouragement and support, because I never would have finished writing my first peer-reviewed article so quickly (or probably this year) without it.
Thanks to everyone involved in organizing some amazing events, and the people that accepted my proposals. When I was a student, I thought presenting at Access and Code4Lib would be a dream come true. Thanks to the the community and various people, I had the opportunity to make that dream come true in 2014 along with presenting at LibTechConf, and BCLA the same year. Huge thanks to the people who have invited me to speak or write, including Michael Schofield (LibUX, and for calling me an “accessibility expert”), ACRL TechConnect folks (though I don’t remember who invited me to guest post, Bohyun? Margaret?), Carey Toane and Michael Rogowski (OLA Education Institute), Joe Horne and Jessica Knab (CIDDE at University of Pittsburgh), and Diana Silveira (Florida Libraries).
Mozilla, Ladies Learning Code, and the Wider Technology Community
It is no secret that I got involved with Mozilla because of Pomax, but while my contributions to Mozilla have sadly dwindled, I never would have gotten involved as much as I did if it wasn’t for the welcoming that I received from the people I met including David Humphrey, Jon Buckley, Mari Moreshead, Mark Surman, Brett Gaylor, Simon Wex, Mike Hoye, Helen Lee, Dethe Elza, and David Bolter (who kindly lent me his time and gave me a “getting started” rundown on web accessibility), and too many others to name.
It was also due to my involvement with Mozilla that I ended up mentoring at Ladies Learning Code. Even after moving back to Vancouver, I have continued to mentor both at Ladies Learning Code and Girls Learning Code workshops, because I get to flex my teaching skills whenever I manage to fit it into my schedule. I am always inspired by the learners, and feel more motivation to make my contributions to the community thanks to them.
Friends and Family
I cannot end a note of thank you without thanking all my friends and family who have supported me (and kept me sane) through library school, moving to Toronto and back, from contract to contract, personal things, and my (sometimes) long absences of contact, while I work my way towards a permanent, professional position; especially my mom (for everything, especially feeding me the whole way through school, and whom I still go to for advice), and Pomax, for being, and being with me through it all.
Just, Thank You
Words cannot always describe the sincere gratitude that we feel, but I hope that this letter of thanks passes on some of mine. In return, I can only hope to continue to be as “awesome” and “amazing” (such compliments!) as some of you describe me as being.
Cynthia “Arty” Ng
P.S. Of course, my post would not be complete without an addition of a cute animal picture to help sum things up.