Being New

Hello, I’m Heather Kiger, the new Resident Librarian at Luria Library, and a former SBCC student. After SBCC I graduated from UCSB and San Jose State University. My profound gratitude goes out to the Friends of Luria Library, whose donations made this residency possible!

There is so much life, learning, and innovation happening in this library, and it is exciting to be here. I get to be involved in every aspect of library operations; I enjoy roving around and jumping in with whatever help is needed.

Why librarianship?

As a librarian I can connect people with the information that will allow them to positively change their own lives and communities. Since knowledge is power, I get to assist people in their own empowerment every day, and I love that.

In the past I was often homeless and/or unemployed. Beyond my degrees, I also needed more practical skills to move forward. I enjoyed being a Library Assistant in the past, and decided I wanted the skill set of librarians. These skills are useful in diverse jobs (not just libraries) and all areas of life, and include:

  • Finding, organizing, and making sense of complex information,
  • helping people make informed decisions,
  • using technologies effectively,
  • promoting curiosity, self-efficacy, and education, and
  • continually adapting and learning.

Becoming a librarian has already given me some awesome opportunities, even as a newbie:

  • Living and working at Yosemite National Park as a Library Intern for a year
  • Helping an international organization develop library resources for indigenous Guatemalan communities
  • Experiencing what it’s like to work in many kinds of organizations, including working from home
  • Traveling for conferences, making professional presentations, and meeting many amazing people who have helped me in my career
  • And now I have this incredible opportunity to work in Luria Library.

Being the New Kid

Book cover for "What to Do When You're New"
Starting this new job reminds me that we all have to experience being new at things throughout life. We may feel awkward or confused while we’re learning what to do and how to act. How can we make the best of these times and approach them more effectively?

Browsing new books the library, I discovered Keith Rollag’s book, What to Do When You’re New: How to Be Comfortable, Confident, and Successful in New Situations. A new book, about being new, and I’m the new employee; perfect!

Rollag’s book is an introduction to the topic and what can be done about it. Most of the book focuses on building five key skills:

  • Introducing ourselves to strangers,
  • remembering people’s names,
  • asking questions,
  • continuing to build new relationships, and
  • performing new tasks when people are watching.

The author suggests specific activities to get practice and reduce stress around these tasks. A lot of the book is repetitive and it easy to skip over much of the content to find what interests you personally.

Over time, what has been most useful to me are two key words from this book’s title: Acting confident and comfortable. Even if it isn’t how you truly feel in the moment, this is a first step toward making it reality.

It takes a lot of practice (and mistakes) to become skilled at anything, so jump in and try some of the ideas Rollag’s book presents. And feel free to flag me down in the library to say hi and put me to work as your librarian!