Paije Wilson Interview

Continuation of Paije’s interview from Ebling Post…10-14-2020

You started in July and moved from Michigan to Madison, during  COVID-19. In fact, your interview process happened (virtually) during COVID-19. Tell me how (COVID-19)  has informed your experience with your new colleagues and patrons.

For me, Covid-19 has really brought home the fact that we are all in this together. An example that immediately comes to mind is comparing interviews I have had prior to Covid-19 with interviews during the pandemic, including the one for this position. My past interviews were more rigid, and were hyper-focused on the interview process; whereas my interviews during the pandemic seemed more humanized. In the latter interviews, there were occasional errors in technology, frequent check-ins to see how I was doing, and occasional interruptions from pets. There was a sense that I as well as the interviewers were all in this together; that there would be errors on both sides, and that was okay, we would get through it together.

This sense of empathy and support has continued in my position here as well. In starting this position during Covid-19, I’ve learned the importance of approaching your work with kindness, patience, and empathy. We’re all learning together, students, faculty, and staff alike. There will be mistakes, and that’s okay. We’re all in it together, and we’ll all get through it together.

What most excited you about potentially working at Ebling, and now that you have been working for a few weeks, what do you find most rewarding, as well as most challenging? 

I want to start by saying that I originally pursued health sciences librarianship because I wanted a career where I could continue learning, and where I could integrate my love for both humanities and science-based research. I am also a total nerd when it comes to research. Back in my undergraduate years, where I was getting my bachelor’s degree in English Literature and my minor in Biology, I discovered that I absolutely loved writing papers, regardless of whether they were humanities or science-based, and would even help biology majors with their lab reports. To be able to utilize my skills and passions to facilitate the research of others seemed like the perfect profession!

There were several reasons why I was drawn to Ebling Library. If I had to name just a one, it would be for its incredible dedication to the students, faculty, and staff it serves. This was a position where I knew I would use my skills to make significant contributions; and where I would have the opportunity to collaborate with an advanced, and interdisciplinary team of professionals both within and outside my field. This direct collaboration was so important to me when considering a position. I wanted a position where I could directly interact with faculty, staff, and students; I didn’t just want to serve them, I wanted to partner with them so that we could learn from each other. I’m so incredibly lucky to be in a position where I can do this.

After having been in this position for a few weeks, I would say that the most rewarding part of my job has been having a hand in making researcher’s lives easier, whether those researchers are students, faculty members, or staff members. Having students, faculty, or staff come to you after hitting a wall in their research, and being able to use your expertise to break down that wall, is such a wonderful experience.

My most challenging experiences so far have been remembering and finding information for our onsite services during the pandemic. Having only been to Ebling once since starting my position, and with services changing so frequently across libraries, it’s been difficult to keep track of these details!

Among your duties, you are the liaison librarian with the UW School of Pharmacy, what sort of questions and/or instruction do you see as school and research unfolds in a COVID-19 environment? 

A few trends that I see during the pandemic include calls for asynchronous instruction (such as videos), especially for library orientation sessions; instructional requests that include explanations for how to get remote access to materials; and questions from faculty on how to get scanned materials into Canvas. In sum, a lot of the questions/requests I receive relate to remote instruction and updates on library services during the pandemic.

Have you even been inside Ebling, do you know where your office is located? How has working remotely affected your engagement with colleagues and patrons? 

I actually received a tour of Ebling Library during the summer, and got to see my office (in person) for the first time!

I’ve been so lucky working at Ebling, in that all of my colleagues have been incredibly approachable and responsive, even in a remote context. In terms of engagement with patrons, I feel one big change, in just comparing my experience here with my past library experiences, is that there is a greater need for attaching a face to your services, either through making sure you show yourself on camera during instruction or creating a video clip of yourself to put at the beginning of your videos. While attaching a face to your services is always important, now there is a conscious effort you need to make to ensure you’re doing this.

How are you and your family, which includes (wolfhound?) Hazel adjusting to (a pandemic informed) Madison? 

My husband, Hazel (our Irish Wolfhound mix), Turtle (yes, we have a turtle named Turtle. I assure you we didn’t choose the name!), and I have been adjusting pretty well to life in Wisconsin. While we haven’t been able to explore restaurants or campus buildings in Madison too much, we’ve had a lot of fun getting to know the area; sampling Wisconsin’s amazing cheeses; and hiking the many trails, both here and in the Dells area. Being originally from a small town in Iowa, it’s great to find ourselves in the Midwest again!