While studying history at SUNY Geneseo, Katie Brady discovered that her love for research was the driver she was looking for to help guide her educational ambitions and career decisions. It wasn’t long into her own career development and job searching that she realized librarianship was a perfect fit for so many of her strengths and passions. Being only a couple of hours away from the esteemed iSchool at Syracuse University, and seeing how closely the coursework aligned with her goals, Brady gladly accepted a spot in its MLIS graduate program after finishing her history degree at Geneseo.
The first job that she landed in her newly chosen profession was at Cornell University Library, in a role at the circulation desk on the graveyard shift. Eventually she moved into a position with more focus on cataloging projects, and Brady gratefully reflects on the excellence of the Cornell library system and how important it was in getting her started in her career. But Brady was looking for a permanent and full-time librarianship position and was coming up empty until her search branched into the deep mountains of Tennessee. It was at Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) that she found a job as Access Services Librarian, and her career was off to a full start. It so happened that this is also where she would meet her husband, and soon, her family was off to a full start, as well.
She now works at Cleveland State Community College (CSCC) where she is the Cataloging and Systems Librarian. Although Brady has enjoyed aspects of all of her different work experiences, she really appreciates the small feel, collaborative nature, and amount of exposure she gets with students as they work through their degree progressions in the community college setting. It has all of the trappings of a public library, but the energy of an academic library. Brady feels right at home.
A huge part of the reward of librarianship, as far as Brady is concerned, can be found while working with students over the course of several semesters, and seeing their improvement firsthand. As the resident expert in Chicago style citation at the CSCC library, Brady helps train a lot of learners on the finer points of this elusive citation style, and she gets to witness the painstaking process of absorbing new knowledge.
Brady lives in an area of the country that made international news for dubious reasons in the last couple of years. McMinn County School District made the decision to ban the book “Maus” from the library shelves across the county. Brady has two kids, one of whom has recently entered school age and the other one has not quite gotten there yet, but she is now feeling the pressure from two sides: as a passionate librarian that cares deeply about information accessibility and transparency, and as a mother of kids that will grow up in a school district that bans books. This has helped ignite the activist within her and Brady will continue to fight for the values that she holds dear, both personally and professionally.
At the state level, Tennessee has alarming momentum towards passing laws that would make it a crime to share banned books with minors. Some of the legislation being proposed would penalize state funded libraries (almost every library except the rare private ones) if they include material from controversial topics (e.g. CRT, LGBTQ, etc.). This type of mentality in her adopted state has Brady, and librarians and activists everywhere, on high-alert. Because Tennessee is not alone in its attempts at information censorship, the ongoing battles for accessibility and transparency are being waged everywhere.
Looking back on her career since finishing the iSchool’s MLIS program, Brady says, “what surprised me most was the classes I used more heavily [in my career], were not the classes that I thought I would use heavily. Number one, I was really challenged by my cataloging class, and at the end of it I thought that I never wanted to work in cataloging. What am I doing now? I am the Cataloging and Systems Librarian, and I love it, but it’s not where I thought I would be when I finished the program.” Even though Brady didn’t initially know exactly what kind of librarian she wanted to end up being, she envisioned herself working in the stacks of a public or academic library, so she kept an open mind and followed the general coursework of her program without focusing on any one specialty. She notes that working in a smaller-sized community college requires her to wear a lot of hats professionally. She gets to work in research and instruction, and feels like she is getting the whole librarian experience rather than being deeply absorbed in a singular discipline.
Brady believes that ideologically, the iSchool well-prepared her for the fight against information repression. She might not have the same value system when it comes to the sanctity of access and equity of information, or she wouldn’t necessarily possess the academic fortitude required to resist the forces working against librarians and their sacred domains, were it not for her time at the School of Information Studies. She is passionate, educated, highly trained, and extremely motivated, and those that oppose intellectual freedom and access to information will have their hands full.