A Conversation with Author Catherine Hakala-Ausperk

The writer discusses her new ALA Editions book on meaningful work

June 13, 2017

Renew Yourself: A Six-Step Plan for More Meaningful Work

Catherine Hakala-Ausperk is a library planner, speaker, consultant, trainer, and adjunct faculty member at Kent (Ohio) State University’s School of Library and Information Science. Her book Renew Yourself: A Six-Step Plan for More Meaningful Work (ALA Editions, 2017), was excerpted in the June issue of American Libraries. AL spoke with Hakala-Ausperk about her book, its inspiration, and what the future holds for her creatively.

What made you want to write this book?

Through my teaching and consulting work, I meet library staffers from all around the country, and quite frequently I end up talking to them about their careers. What I hear quite often is that, while they love working at libraries, they feel there’s something missing—something they really wish they could be doing. I try to help them understand what that is and how they can achieve it. I wrote this book to offer the same type of support and encouragement to those I haven’t met who are wondering the same things.

Why would ALA members find it helpful?

Today’s libraries offer a myriad of professional opportunities—much more than ever before. With staff members doing more with fewer people, there are endless opportunities to grow and develop skills and passions and extend the contributions we can all make. Hopefully, anyone wanting to do that will find worthwhile advice and guidance in this book.

What is the most surprising thing you discovered while working on this book?

I’m not so much surprised as constantly amazed at how dedicated, passionate, and tireless library staffers are. Even those who are already doing a lot still want to do more. It’s been said that librarianship isn’t so much an occupation as it is a calling. I see that everywhere I go. People in libraries want to make a difference. They want their work to matter.

What are you reading now?

I’m about to start Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. I can only hope it’s as good as The Girl on the Train.

What is your next project?

Writing a book is such an intense and demanding labor of love that, every time I finish one, I say I won’t write another. But I’m thinking about updating my first book, Be a Great Boss: One Year to Success (ALA Editions, 2011). I’ve heard so many stories about how it is used by leadership teams to inspire conversation and support growth and development. Maybe I’ll write Be an Even Greater Boss! I’m also preparing a presentation for the 2017 ALA Annual Conference.