Staff Spotlight: Betsy Myers


Betsy Myers, Adult Services
TADL Main Library – Traverse City

Tell us a little bit about your library background and tenure at TADL.
I grew up using the Traverse City Public Library on Sixth Street, and I loved it! It was cramped, but I felt like it was a treasure trove of books and knowledge just waiting to be discovered. When the new Main Library opened (Woodmere Avenue) in 1999, I waited a whole year before coming back to the library because even though it was bigger, the shelves seemed so empty!

When I did come back to the Main Library, it was for a paid internship while I was studying at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) at the University Center, in Traverse City. In February 2001, I was hired as an employee (substitute) and later moved to a part-time aide position in Circulation. By 2006, I was working part-time in the Adult Reference Department at the Main Library, and also some time at Interlochen Public Library. In 2011, I became full-time in Adult Reference.

What do you enjoy the most about working at the public library?
No single day is ever the same! I enjoy interacting with people, especially helping them find the information that they’re looking for. This is what’s known as the Reference Interview, and it is a process of helping determine what information the person is seeking and what they have tried already to find the answer. I find it enjoyable because it works on your critical thinking skills! Sure, questions may repeat from person to person. But, you never know what questions a new day brings your way.

You are very involved in helping to develop programming for adults. How did you get involved with that?
When I started working in the Adult Services Department, I tried to help out with the tasks that didn’t require someone with a library degree (MLIS) to work on. The other task that I do is manage the Interlibrary Loans.

But the programming is great because I try to strike a balance between serious topics and just plain fun. The goal of offering programs at the public library is to try be welcoming to those people that don’t normally visit the library to borrow books, movies, music, etc. The other goal of programming is to recognize local authors in a supportive environment, and to put a face and personality with the person responsible for writing the words that you read on the page.

What program is your favorite?
I like the fun and frivolous ones the most. Probably two of them are tied for my favorite: the Chili Cook-off and the Adult Spelling Bee.

The Chili Cook-off is an event that’s exciting for the cooks and judges alike, and best of all it’s free food (just a lot of tastes…and corn muffins). The Adult Spelling Bee is another favorite because I just love spelling bees. There’s a childhood nostalgia of competition, but we do it in a team format (2-3 people per team) so there’s a safety net and collaborative environment. Plus, we partner with the Grand Traverse County Senior Center on this event. It’s just a lot of fun to present a trophy, and bragging rights, to adults!

You also mentioned that you manage the Interlibrary Loans. Do you have a memorable experience with a particular request?
Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is a service that we offer to find information or materials that are not available in the State of Michigan through the Michigan e-Library (MeLCat). So, this is anything borrowed from an out-of-state library and sometimes even internationally. We receive a lot of requests for articles, genealogy searches, microfilm, and research by writers working on books or research papers.

The best ILL experience for me was when anthropologist Napoleon A. Chagnon thanked me in the author’s acknowledgements for his book titled, Noble Savages. That was pretty cool!

Earlier you stated that you “grew up in the library on Sixth Street.” What do you like to read now?
I read for enjoyment and escape. My favorite thing to read is women’s fiction. The books in this genre focus on women, their relationships, their life’s journey… it’s relatable. These titles are usually written by women about women (and other characters in her life). When I tell library patrons about women’s fiction, I usually compare it to a movie genre: drama. I like happy endings with no loose ends.

From time to time I also read nonfiction, mostly about gardening or homesteading. This includes nonfiction like biographies about comedians. I appreciate mysteries too, but only on audio book so that I can’t just skip and read ahead! And I love reading in all formats: print books, e-books (digital), and audio books (but only read by particular narrators).