Interview with Diane Walker

Diane Walker is a former LTAIG board member and winner of the CLA Library Technician Award of Merit. She works at the Corporate Information Centre (AKA Infocentre) of Central 1 Credit Union. It is the trade organization and central financial facility for BC and Ontario credit unions. The library serves Central 1’s 400 employees and 200 member credit unions. The Infocentre’s collection is mostly electronic, plus some print and A/V material. Diane and her two coworkers publish daily news alerts, biweekly newsletters for the BC region, and quarterly newsletters on Infocentre services and resources.

This kind of small special library has offered Diane more freedom to develop services and make changes to meet client needs. It can be a great situation for self-starters. Diane has found it better if one’s interests align with the library’s subject and mission. As a credit union member for decades she was especially happy to join Central 1.  Diane mentioned pros and cons to working in special libraries.  Advantages can include autonomy, predictable hours, subject focus, and higher pay rate.  However there may be disadvantages like non-library duties, challenging subject specialties, and being a “support service” under threat of downsizing.

Diane has worked in several positions at the Infocentre since 1993 and is currently Team Lead. Her responsibilities include budgeting, paying bills, collection development and cataloging, quick reference, in-depth research, writing departmental reports, and supervision of staff. One of her favourite duties is care of the archives. Diane enjoys investigating the “treasures” there and making them more accessible. She has found supervising more challenging than expected and is glad a course on supervisory skills is now offered as part of lib tech programs.

Diane grew up in Fresno, California, former raisin capital of the world. It is part of the agricultural San Joaquin Valley, which she found “a great place to be from”. As a child Diane would take refuge from the sun in the old Carnegie library, where she later became a volunteer.

After developing her people skills doing social work and dental office reception, Diane switched to the library field. She had enjoyed libraries since elementary school and recognized that some of her interests fit with library work: finding and verifying information, customer service, and organizing.

At Langara College Diane completed the library technician diploma part-time while working and parenting.  She found the online searching course especially useful since that area was changing rapidly at the time.  Also the instructor later offered her a job; proof that you never know where impressing people at school could lead.  Following graduation in 1989, Diane worked in three other special libraries before Central 1: an alternate-format centre, an engineering firm, and a scientific research firm.  Over the years she has taken courses in web design, online searching, business finance, and supervisory skills.

Diane’s involvement with library associations has included serving as a chair for BCLA’s LTAIG and board member for SLA’s Western Canada chapter. She enjoys working with others who want to be involved in the library field beyond their job. In 2006 CLA’s Library Technician Interest Group awarded Diane their first Library Technician Award of Merit for her efforts to strengthen connections between Canadian library organizations.

Diane’s advice to library staff is that “change happens!” It will happen whether you like it or not, so you must be ready to respond. There can also be a big difference between career direction you plan to take and where you actually end up. Plus each job, good or bad, can teach you things.

Diane’s non-library interests include spending time with her grandson, participating in a long-running book club (almost 40 years!), and walking. She is also involved with the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s work in Africa, especially support of grandmothers raising children orphaned by AIDS. At interview time the book club was reading Carolan’s Farewell by Charles Foran. Diane was about to read Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell and Changing my Mind by Margaret Trudeau. She also enjoys CBC Radio’s “Writers and Company” and The Economist magazine. If awarded a trip anywhere in the world Diane would choose Egypt… once things settle down.

Looking ahead, Diane sees various types of libraries improving and thinks that libraries will last a long time. She is particularly interested in public library developments like embracing new technology and becoming more broadly relevant. Noting how much the diploma program has changed since her time, Diane applauds new grads’ broader skills and thinks they can be applied to a wider range of jobs. As for her own future, she is looking forward to retirement soon but still plans to be involved with libraries as a patron or volunteer.


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