Getting to Know… Pam Fanelli, Technical Services Librarian

Hi Pam. Let’s start with the same question that we’ve started everyone else on: why do you work in a library? Though I never enjoyed school, I’ve always loved reading and learning, so I’ve been a fan of libraries for as long as I can remember. I’ve also always been happiest working in organizations where some sort of social good is the primary mission, rather than profit, and libraries typically fall into the former category.

What were your experiences with libraries before working in them? My earliest memory of using a library was being taught how to use the card catalog at my elementary school. The library was my favorite place in school, because I could choose for myself what to read and learn about. Later, I spent my lunches taking advantage of the quiet in my high school library to do homework that was due next period and, pretty often, to take naps or just chill. In college, visiting the library for enjoyment took a back seat to using library databases and online journals for coursework. It wasn’t until I started working at my local public library as a circulation assistant that I got back into the habit of reading for personal interest and enjoyment.

I obviously have to ask you what your favorite book is. Some of my all-time favorite novels are American GodsThe Handmaid’s Tale, and The Monkey Wrench Gang. Mostly though, I like to read nonfiction on a variety of topics, and I’m always excited to read new authors.

Two of those novels have gotten, to my understanding, pretty great television adaptations recently. What TV shows do you enjoy? My favorite newer TV series is Black Mirror. My longest-running favorite is probably It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Back to libraries–what excites you most about the present or future of libraries? There’s been renewed attention lately to the importance of information literacy and people’s abilities to judge the accuracy and reliability of an information source. These skills have been an area of specialization for libraries for a very long time, and my hope is that libraries will see an expansion or evolution of their existing roles as curators of quality resources and educators in information skills. However, given the usual struggle of communicating the value of these services to the public and officials that ultimately determine education and library funding, I’m usually more anxious than excited about the future of libraries.

What’s something unexpected you’ve learned about libraries or the people that work in them? On the whole, I’ve met no fiercer opponents to censorship or advocates of free access to information and protection of privacy than the people that work in libraries. I’ve witnessed some of my meekest, most passive-seeming coworkers be yelled at, bullied, or otherwise pressured, and still firmly and confidently defend the freedom to read. I think this assertiveness would be a surprise to anyone who subscribes to the timid librarian stereotype.

Alright, we’ve got a bit of time for some quick fire questions. Where would you most like to live? I think I’d like to eventually end up living near mountains again, preferably somewhere in the West. I enjoy the scenery and outdoor recreation opportunities in the foothills or on the high plains more than anywhere else I’ve ever been.

Do you collect anything? I won’t say I ‘collect’ craft supplies so much as I accumulate them. I have a lot of yarn, scrap metal, adhesives, paints, pencils, tools, etc. It’s hard not to be a little bit of a hoarder with art supplies.

What do you most look forward to doing on the weekends? Sleeping in, and spending time with my partner, Mike, and my dog, Ember. I also enjoy going to the movies for matinees, since my old-lady bedtime means most evening showings during the week are too late for me.

What are your favorite words? Off the top of my head: dulcet, ember, solstice, vitrify, fold, marrow, enamel, spry, electric, burnish, facet.

Excellent. Which natural gift would you most like to possess? An instinctive sense of direction. Being taller would be nice, too.

Lastly, who are your favorite heroines, both in real life and in fiction? One of the most notable is probably Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, long may she live. Her work with the ACLU in the early 70’s resulted in the extension of constitutional equal rights protections to women. She’s brilliant, her court opinions are straight fire, and she can do way more pistol squats than I can. In fiction, probably Ripley from the first two Alien films.

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