24:4 (2009:12) Profile: Kathy Machin

December 9, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Posted in Profiles | Leave a comment


Kathy Machin, Electronic Resources Associate
Health Sciences Library, Stony Brook University (SUNY)

Susan Davis, Profiles Editor

You might wonder how I select members to be profiled in this column.  Sometimes I ask people I know well who I think might have some interesting things to say.  Other times I ask someone I only know a little so I can get to know them better along with all of you.  This time I was fortunate to have a very enthusiastic suggestion from a fellow member to put together a profile of Kathy Machin.  I did not know Kathy at all – Stony Brook might be a sister SUNY institution, but is at the other end of the state from Buffalo.  I was delighted to learn more about one of our newer members who is also a past award winner.

Kathy Machin loves librarianship and Skittles.

You are very new to the library field.  What interested you in becoming a librarian?

As an older student, I came to the career choice of becoming a librarian by accident.  While driving a school bus for 10 years, I was inspired to go back to school to become a teacher.  I applied for the job of Bursar / Registrar at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) for a change of pace and tuition remission.  After one year in the department there was an opening for a library assistant in the library, and I applied for the position.  I found my calling at the NYIT Library!  The librarians at NYIT wanted to share information with everyone; they encouraged everyone to achieve their highest aspirations.  I wanted to be just like them, to inspire, share and help others find access to information.  I decided that I wanted to be a librarian, to attend library school and learn the magical tricks to unlock the secrets of research.

It has taken me a long time to get to the finish line, but I will be forever grateful to the librarians at NYIT who changed my life.

I understand you are finishing up your masters in library science at Queens College, part of the CUNY system.  What have you enjoyed most (and least) about the program?

There are some professors who are at the top of their fields.  My advisor was Dr.  Virgil Blake, who was a wonderful guide throughout the degree program.  I have to admit that I struggled through my web design class.  The course included using Dreamweaver, Photoshop and HTML, which was brand new terrain for me.  I had never used a Mac!  I think web design should be a required course for all future librarians.

Have you taken many online courses?  Do you think library and information science programs will have more online courses than in-person courses in the future?

I prefer courses in-person, but I took quite a few online courses in my undergraduate program.  I think that online courses will definitely become a larger part of the degree program in the future.  The flexibility that online courses provide allows a student to continue school regardless of their work schedule.

Tell us more about your current position. How long have you worked at Stony Brook in the Health Sciences Library?

I have been at Stony Brook for three years.  I started in Access Services as the electronic reserves assistant and moved up into my current position which is electronic resources associate.  I am always trying to learn new skills and have become the resident “jack of all trades.”  Our department includes acquisitions, cataloging, and electronic resource management.  My position includes troubleshooting access to electronic databases, serials, and e-books.  I also have responsibility for processing invoices for serials and monographs.  My position provides a learning experience every day.

Have you had any other work experience?  Any interesting stories to relate from that experience?

I worked for a non- profit agency (Central Islip Civic Council) in between library gigs and I was asked in the interview if I would be willing to help shear sheep…I said yes right away and went home so upset…I was afraid to admit that sheep scare me!

How did you hear about NASIG and what attracted you to the organization?

I am so lucky to be employed at the Health Sciences Library at Stony Brook.  Susan White, my supervisor, encouraged me to apply for the Conference Student Grant, and I was so excited to be selected.  I really did not know what to expect.

You were a conference student grant winner for the 2008 conference in Phoenix.  What did you expect and how did the conference meet your expectations (or not)?

The conference was a real pleasure.  There were all kinds of people from all types of libraries, sharing their knowledge and experiences with me…It did not matter what your title was, paraprofessional, library assistant, librarian, everyone was there to learn and share information and stories.  It was awesome.

I was actually expecting another dry (well it was in Arizona!) conference, but it was full of interesting presentations that were useful to me as well as thought provoking. I believe that the information from the sessions exposed me to ideas that I could possibly use in my department.  I have attended other conferences and I would say that, typically, fifty percent of the information did not pertain to me.  In contrast, the NASIG conference was a wealth of information.

Then you were able to attend the 2009 conference in Asheville.  Did you see many familiar faces?  A particular memorable moment from either conference?

I was impressed with Peter Morville who presented at the vision session 1.  I also thought the presentation titled “Usage of Open Access Journals; Findings from Top 11 Science Medical Journals” is pertinent to all serial departments.  I loved Asheville and saw friendly faces from the year before and chatted with them!

Has your participation at the NASIG conferences had any impact on your career plans?  Or maybe I should have asked how you think participation in NASIG might benefit your career?

I often wonder how professionals and paraprofessionals can keep up with new ideas and technology concerning the library.  We are often short staffed and become so busy in our daily activities in the library that it is difficult to remain abreast of what is out there.  I believe that attending a conference like NASIG allows us to hear about new ideas and new technology.  I like to hear about how other libraries are handling e-journals and e-books and the new technologies involved with this expanding field.  We all seem to have similar issues, and brainstorming with others in the field is exciting.

Kathy also told me that she plans to remain active in NASIG and suggests that NASIG generate even more publicity about the organization and its activities.

Do you live on Long Island?  Have you always lived there?  What are some cool things about Long Island that many people might not know?

I have lived on Long Island most of my life.  I served a brief amount of time in the Navy (my husband served six years), and we lived in several states.  I love Long Island with its beautiful beaches, proximity to NYC and the people from all walks of life.   I think that people might be surprised to know that Long Island has a thriving music community.  My husband runs two open mics.  We have met so many terrific performers on Long Island; it is truly amazing how many talented people are here.  Long Island has many venues for aspiring performers to shine.

Do you have any hobbies?

I like to sing at the open mics with my husband, but I cannot do it as often as I would like to because of work and school.

Do you participate in any social networks? Do you find them useful, time-consuming, fun, addicting or relevant to the library field?

I am addicted to Facebook!  Our IT assistant director suggested that I start a Facebook page, and I was hooked from the first day.  I have a Shelfari account that I use as a means to keep track of what I have read.  I am not really sure how I feel regarding Facebook and how it can be used for the library…to be honest I have not done any research on the subject.

Favorite movies? Books? Music? TV programs? Fitness routines?

Hmmm…this is a hard question because my list would be too long! I like almost everything.

Family members you’d like to mention?

I have the honor of being married for 30 years to my best friend, Kenn Machin, my inspiration and true love.

Would you be willing to share one or two things that others might be surprised to know about you?

I love Skittles.  I do not care that they are pure sugar!

How could I possibly top that ending?!


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