Librarian, Reclassified: An Interview with Denyse McFadden

By , February 18, 2010 3:45 pm

by Karen Helde

Is there life after librarianship? I talked to Denyse McFadden, longtime LLOPS member and former Library Director at Lane Powell to find out. Denyse now heads up the Human Resources department at Lane Powell and was gracious enough to share her perspective from beyond the stacks.

Q: What do you miss most about being a librarian?

I miss the collegiality of the profession. Librarians are hard-wired to be helpful and have highly developed skills at being supportive of one-another, while safeguarding the resources of their own employers or institutions. That support is warm, friendly, genuine and often very “behind the scenes.” Mentoring is in our DNA.

Q: What skills from your library days have been the most useful to you in your new job?

  • Collaboration – the ability to understand two or more opposing points of view and work toward solutions that meet most of the needs of all parties.
  • Service orientation – the desire to meet the needs of the individual to the best of your ability with all resources available.
  • Communication – making it a priority to consider broadly who needs to be “in the loop” and communicating well.

Mind you, I haven’t mastered these skills . . .

Q: What surprised you the most about seeing your firm from the perspective of a different department?

That human behavior really is affected by the phases of the moon.

Q: Does technology drive change in HR as much as it does in libraries?

Probably not – and HR has somewhat more control over when those technology changes are invoked.

Q: What would you like librarians to know about their colleagues in HR?

The public perception of HR is not always flattering nor is it always deserved. Most HR employees care deeply about “doing the right thing,” which is frequently a balancing act between being an advocate for their organization and an advocate for the employee while simultaneously complying with frequently changing laws and regulations. The advice I’d like to offer, is “ask questions!!” Get to your know HR colleagues, become familiar with your HR website . . . hmm, sound like a librarian, don’t I?

Q: Do strangers still stop you on the street to ask for directions, or have you lost that “Ask me, I’m a librarian” aura?

Yes, indeed – that aura is alive and well.

Q: Do you still remember your old Westlaw password?

Scary, but yes. It’s an old one with only 5 initial numbers

Q: If there was a reference emergency on an airplane and the captain asked if there was a librarian on board, would you come forward?


One Response to “Librarian, Reclassified: An Interview with Denyse McFadden”

  1. Brenna Louzin says:

    Karen and Denyse,

    Thanks for an enlightening article. Denyse, we miss you.

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