Amber Clement: My Superior Librarian
by Kevin Alexander
I am very proud of my fiancée, Amber Clement. She grew up in the Upper Peninsula on the shores of Lake Superior near a small city which boasts the Soo Locks, with accessibility to Soo, Canada, the Mackinac Bridge and other amenities of wildlife and nature. She grew up with a father that was a double amputee from the Vietnam War which left normal childhood activities different from other kids. Today, her father takes care of her mother who suffered multiple strokes at 59.
As with any other high school graduate, she was unsure what to do in her life. She attended the local university and graduated with a BA, double majoring in English Language & Literature and History in 2003. Amber was very fortunate to land a part-time clerk position at the local library. Finally, she found a niche! She loves the library; it was like a window was opened to something that she only found solace in as a child and it was coming true for her as adult.
However, Amber had to work hard to create her own persona in a library where many of the other staff were older and set in their ways about what the image of a library should be. Fortunately, the director was supportive of any educational experiences for staff and she took advantage of conferences and workshops. Amber became very skilled at graphic design and creating brochures and fliers. Her knowledge of the circulation desk and customer service grew. Patrons remark upon her efficiency and familiarity of the library.
She was able to take staff opinions about redesigning the library and drew up plans for a fresh look to the reference, computer, video and staff areas. Amber provided in detail items that could be reused or sold and the total cost of the improvement. It was well received by both library staff and the board and all were impressed by the completeness of the plan. The library was able move forward in utilizing a community room that was already part of the original 1970s plan for programs and events that was once a space for a few staff. Amber was able to gain support from her colleagues in implementing new ideas into the library through her thorough research, staff input, and implementation in a cost effective and timely manner.
Later, as a full-time position, her duties included the usual librarian motto of “having a hand in everything,” from cataloging, to adult collection development and reader’s advisory, to reference and tech questions, to helping in ILL, and press releases. I am amazed at the variety of tasks that she handles, and professional knowledge about librarianship in general. This will be her first year participating on a program committee and she will be introducing a new program “Adult Coloring.”
Amber’s enthusiasm and appreciation of the area’s history helped her in learning more about the history of the Sault and the local history room. This room has never had an archivist, and she was able to catalog materials and properly store items in archival quality boxes and folders. Amber is exceptional at organizing this room and is the “go to” person for researchers looking for information on the Sault’s rich history. They are amazed at her superior abilities to locate information or refer other avenues to obtain information from outside resources. In addition, she has served as a board member and continues to volunteer for the Chippewa County Historical Society.
It was through much debate and prodding that she finally decided to go back to school to get her MLIS with an archival concentration in an online school. At the time, she not only was raising two daughters but also had recently moved me in with my two sons. There was a lot of adjustment for the whole family. It was a struggle sometimes to participate in online courses after working all day, and trying to tend to the needs of her demanding kids’ schedules and their attention. Amber would sit in bed up to 2 or 3 am making sure readings were done, papers were written, posts were read and turned in. Amber is proud of her degree and was excited to attend the graduation ceremonies. We are proud for her; this was an accomplishment that the whole family celebrated.
Amber has an innovative approach to common issues and her Superior knowledge and experience working in the library has benefited many facets that are involved in working a library. She continues to stay on top of the latest trends in libraries and is constantly pouring over anything library related. Amber is a strong proponent for librarians’ and public’s’ rights and responsibilities both equally and ethically. Her kids admire her as a librarian. Amber’s life struggles have emotionally impacted her but they have given her the experience to handle situations and apply a new perspective to issues that arise in the library. Growing up on the shores of Lake Superior wasn’t easy, but she has become the Upper Peninsula’s Superior Librarian.
Kevin Alexander lives in Sault Ste. Marie, MI and is a “retired” corrections officer with two sons 13 & 10. He spends most of his time attending to house chores and running the four kids to and fro from school and after school activities.
Amber Clement “Superior Librarian” lives in Sault Ste. Marie, MI with her now much larger family that includes her two daughters 10 & 6. She is Head of Adult Services at Bayliss Public Library, an affiliate of Superior District Library. She received her BA from Lake Superior State University and her MLIS and archival concentration from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee online program. In her free time, she researches various genealogical, historical and legal subjects. Otherwise, she is coloring or watching a good season of “something” on Netflix.