Sharon Tani

MLIS 2011
Regional Director of Library Services
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
Pasadena, CA USA

What I am doing now.

As a culinary librarian, my job revolves around managing a busy library, developing a collection of cookbooks, DVDs, food-related periodicals and rare ephemera, delivering library instruction to cooking and pastry students, providing reference services and working with the academic, finance, career services and purchasing departments on a variety of projects throughout the year.

In addition, I provide further leadership and support to our larger network of college libraries within the corporation, including all Le Cordon Bleu campuses in the western region, Sanford Brown health schools and the International Academy of Design & Technology colleges.

My days are very full, but I really enjoy working with faculty and students within a food-related environment. This job has broadened my horizons, made me a better cook, fed my food fanaticism and given me many opportunities to define how I can best operate as a librarian, improve upon mistakes and cope with constant change. It's been dynamic, fast-paced, fun, and usually delicious!

What are the most valuable skills I use in my job?

EVERYTHING I learned at SLIS has been immensely useful in my daily work. I didn't expect it, but now I see that learning about basic cataloging, library management, reference services, collection development, young adult materials and marketing has provided a strong foundation for all the tasks I'm required to perform. It informs projects I'm involved with and lends credibility to the advisory information that I'm asked to contribute to academic leadership's accreditation, planning and organizational reports. Partnering this formal learning with on-the-job training over the years has been an ideal combination for understanding the operations of all types of libraries. Also, finding outlets that could combine my love of libraries with my love of cooking has been very rewarding.

The most surprising element that came forth in my job was a knowledge about intellectual freedom. Who would've thought that books in a culinary library would be challenged and potentially censored? This is something we usually hear about in public or school libraries, right? My experience in handling the situation was harrowing, valuable, empowering and in the end, successful. I'm grateful to ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom and all of my SLIS professors for giving me the right information and strategies to explain the purpose of our libraries and defend the meaning of what we do every day. You never know when the learning you've gained from SLIS will come into use, but be certain that one day it will!

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