Career Profile: StreamNet Regional Librarian


Lenora A. Oftedahl

Title of current position:

StreamNet Regional Librarian

Current employer:

Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission

Please provide a brief description of your job including a general overview of your responsibilities.

I’m generally in charge of the library. Specifically, I am in charge of collection development, acquisitions, cataloging, organization, plus all administrative duties. Contract management, budgeting, supervision of personnel, etc.

How did you choose your specialty (i.e. music cataloger, metadata specialist, technical service manager, etc.)?

My eyes were opened in my advanced cataloging class to the intricacies and depths of information management and organization. I was originally hired for my cataloging expertise. I then worked on learning about the specific topics in the StreamNet collections: fishing, ecology, wildlife, water quality.

What specific skills, aptitudes, training, or education does your specialty require?

Knowledge of environmental sciences. Knowledge of fisheries and biological sciences.

In what ways did your formal education prepare you for your career? What did you need to learn outside of this?

The MLS gave me the background and underpinnings for success as a special librarian. I took classes in all aspects of library science as a way to get to know different types of materials and how to organize them. After being awarded this position, I worked on a second master’s degree in environmental policy.

What do you find rewarding in your career?

Helping people find resources that they thought were lost.

What do you find challenging in your career?

Keeping up with the biologists and learning to talk on their level.

How do you keep up with trends in the field (i.e. involvement in professional organizations, email lists, publishing and research, professional reading, etc.)?

I have mostly been keeping up with new information in collection topics rather than as a professional librarian. Now I am trying to catch up on being a librarian. It’s hard to balance both sides.

What advice do you have for those considering a career in your specialty?

Learn as much as possible about all aspects of information management and organization. Then all about library administration. The knowledge about special topics will come as you work with the documents.

What do you see as the career outlook in your field (i.e. job prospects, changes in responsibilities, etc.)?

It’s difficult to know the future of special libraries, especially in the current science climate. The StreamNet Regional Library is currently absorbing a number of small libraries and adding documents to the collection, but our budget could be the next on the chopping block. I hope for the best, plan for the worst.

How do you strive for a work-life balance? Do you have any hobbies or interests outside work?

The balance between work and life has been pretty easy with a 40 hour business week job. However, in the changing climate, we are becoming busier, and as more work comes our way, more demand is placed on our time. I do have other hobbies and have logged lots of volunteer hours with various organizations. But as I have gotten older, I find I have less energy outside of work.

Is there any additional information you would like to provide?

Being a librarian is the absolute best career I could have chosen. I stumbled into the field, but found my soul.

This career profile is one of 14 developed by the Cataloging & Metadata Management Section (CaMMS) Recruitment & Mentoring Committee in 2017. To view a list of all profiles, see Career Profiles in Cataloging, Metadata, & Related Fields.

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