Meet Michael Rodriguez: INALJ Assistant Editor, Librarian & Faculty

by Tracy Wasserman, Senior Assistant, INALJ Florida

Meet Michael Rodriguez: INALJ Assistant Editor, Librarian & Faculty

Meet Michael Rodriguez, INALJ Florida Assistant Editor and Faculty Library at Hodges University in Naples/ Fort Myers, Florida

* Photo credit to Lynn Elliott, Florida Library Association, via Flickr

Michael-Rodriguez,Tracy: Tell us about your history in working in libraries.
Michael: I started out as a volunteer in the Collier County Public Library, shelving books while I waited for a weekend part-time assistant position that didn’t conflict with my college schedule. For almost four years I worked in circulation and reference and enjoyed every minute of the frenetic pace of public service. This August, I graduated with my MLIS and joined Hodges University, a private nonprofit institution not far from my home. So I’m now a professional librarian, with the faculty rank of Assistant Professor as of September 1! I’m doing cool technology and instruction work, revamping our website, and helping transform our traditional library into a learning commons.

Tracy: What project are you currently working on and what is especially enjoyable about it?
Michael: Currently I’m collaborating with one or two colleagues to spruce up my workplace’s LibGuides and website, streamlining the content and rendering the interface more visually appealing and interactive. This is great because I get to teach myself a new content management system and play with coding and templates in the service of better products and more successful users! I’m also creating several subject LibGuides and just completed a library orientation video that all new Hodges students are required to see. It’s been an exciting first few weeks on the job!

Tracy: What are your favorite information resources?
Michael: Proprietary databases dominate the market, but I am a huge fan of open access resources and plug them at every opportunity. Wikipedia is an amazing general knowledge resource, despite the challenges inherent in crowdsourcing, and I contribute to articles whenever I find the time. I love open libraries, particularly the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), which is developing a vast open portal to America’s cultural heritage (full disclosure: I’m a DPLA Community Rep). I enjoy plugging URLs into the Wayback Machine to see how websites have evolved over time.

Tracy: What’s your favorite website/blog?
Michael: For world news, progressive commentary, and Glenn Greenwald, nothing tops the Guardian. Mostly I surf Twitter if I want news or commentary from the library world—it’s hard to call out one particular blog as being my unqualified favorite. I do love Hack Library School and INALJ for job-related blogging, and Jacob Berg and Jessamyn West offer always insightful commentary. If you’ve ever worked in a public library or have a sense of whimsy, you are gonna LOVE Librarian Problems! I won’t spoil its delights—just click on the link and hoot at the truths GIFed therein.

Tracy: Why did you become a librarian?
Michael: Like most librarians, I’ve always loved to read and hang out in libraries or bookstores. A career in libraries was the natural choice for someone like me, with broad academic interests, a love for research, a passion for helping people, a drive for innovation, and a thing for technology. I did consider pursuing a history PhD, but decided that I wasn’t willing to wait five to ten years to launch my career in earnest. So I did an MLIS instead, and it’s working out marvelously so far!

Tracy: What do you like to read?
Michael: For professional updates, I subscribe to AL Review and surf Twitter. For professional insights, I follow a bunch of library blogs: Letters to a Young Librarian, In the Library With the Lead Pipe, Hack Library School (full disclosure: I blog for HLS), and others. For fiction, I am omnivorous but I love the historical genre, especially if set in the Middle Ages or in medieval-like fantasy lands. Sharon Kay Penman, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Arturo Perez-Reverte are three of my favorite authors. I love history and have five reviews in the pipeline for Library Journal’s social sciences section. Currently I’m reading a monumental biography of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco (review for LJ forthcoming) plus a 1951 scifi classic, Day of the Triffids, whose first chapter set in a hospital inspired the opening scene in 28 Days Later. You learn the darnedest things from IMBD.

Tracy: What social media sites do you have or manage and what is their primary focus?
Michael: I use LinkedIn as an online resume-slash-portfolio and as a means to connect with folks I meet at conferences or other professional events and don’t know well enough to friend on Facebook. My Facebook is strictly for personal use, unless I goof off with the folks on ALATT. My Twitter is mostly professional and a means to tap into the collective conscious of #librarians. My library has no social media presence independent of the university, but we might be able to create a YouTube channel down the road, for our tutorials and orientation videos and such.

Tracy: Do you have a personal/professional website?
Michael: I do, yes! I playfully call my website Shelver’s Cove because the name unites my twin passions of librarianship and sea kayaking. I definitely recommend getting a free site—WordPress works great for me—to showcase one’s resume and portfolio and, in my case, a blog of book reviews.

Tracy: How did you get your current job?
Michael: I was recruited. My current director spotted me working at the public library, liked my energy and style, and hired me as on-call staff. A full-time professional position opened up six months later and I was brought on board without formally interviewing—or even applying. It was cool!