One of the best parts about working at a new company is having the opportunity to contribute to building a product, brand and company together. We’re very proud of our collaborative environment, and our commitment to partnering with our clients to ensure our product and solutions meet their needs. Elizabeth Lee is our Library Business manager, and as a former children’s librarian herself, she uses her experience and background in librarianship to guide the development of the Hiveclass Digital Encyclopedia. Elizabeth taps into her personal experience as inspiration to help create a modern product that will help libraries and librarians explore new opportunities for connection and programming. SO…without further delay, we’re thrilled to introduce you to Ellie!

HIVECLASS: Welcome Ellie! Thanks so much for taking the time to share more about yourself & the library portion of Hiveclass. First things first, why libraries? What inspired you to work at a library and how did this translate into your current role at Hiveclass? 

ELIZABETH LEE: I’ve always wanted to work with books in some capacity – though not necessarily in a library. A few years ago I was introduced to the woman who eventually hired me and she happened to have an open position in her Children’s Department. I’d never imagined myself working with kids directly but figured I’d give it a shot and see what it led to. Imagine my surprise when I realized how much I actually loved working with children once I got a sense of how rewarding it could be. They’re still such new people and are just beginning to learn how to navigate the world and interact with it on their own terms….it was fascinating to me to witness on a daily basis. 

Anyways, the love I felt for my role at my previous library is a big reason why I decided to join Hiveclass. The idea of being able to help build something that could give kids more tools, more ways to explore the world and decide who they want to be, checked all the boxes of what I wanted to contribute to the world for myself.

HC: What is something that the average person would be surprised to learn about libraries and librarians? 

EL: Most people I meet in my daily life are surprised when I tell them that libraries aren’t just books anymore! And librarians don’t spend their days reading and waiting for the phone to ring – there’s programming to do and plan, community outreach, helping patrons who walk into the building or call/email a request, shelf reading/shifting, collection weeding, building and placing book orders, decorating for holidays and changing seasons, and so many more small things that happen throughout the day. There were some days where I barely had time to think, much less read a book. 

HC: The last few years have inspired change across businesses and industries. How has the library business and industry changed during and post-pandemic?

EL: During the pandemic it was honestly so….stressful but amazing to witness how libraries responded to lockdowns. I feel like, in general, people don’t think of libraries as “front line” responders in times of crisis but during the heights of the pandemic libraries were providing so many services to their communities – expanding wifi access, delivering books directly to patron homes, shifting programming to being virtual, offering take-home kits for crafts for kids to do, checking in with patrons on the phone to make sure they were doing ok, and…honestly so much more. 

Even still, libraries have free COVID tests available for the public and are offering virtual and/or hybrid programming for people who can’t make it in person. 

As for how it’s changed post-pandemic…..I’m not sure that I have a good answer because I think we’re still too early to see overall trends. Anecdotally? People are engaging with the library virtually much more than they did pre-pandemic and I don’t think that’s going to change.

HC: Change can be hard, and it’s not always easy to get everyone on board when new things are introduced. What would you say to a library or librarian who isn’t 100% sold on the benefits of Hiveclass and the Digital Encyclopedia? 

EL: I think the best response I have is to ask them to think about it from a different perspective. The benefit of Hiveclass isn’t just that we’re bringing sports into a library setting, it’s that we’re providing access to something that should be available to every member of the community but, for whatever reason, isn’t – whether that’s due to cost or simply that there’s no local classes or teachers. Hiveclass isn’t just sports, it’s also equity, access, education, diversity – all the things that libraries care about. 

HC: What have you enjoyed most about being part of the Hiveclass team? 

EL: It seems cheesy to say but there’s so much! Besides being grateful that I’ve been able to meet some really awesome people thanks to my job, I think what I’ve enjoyed most is the feeling that I’m doing something that matters and will have a positive impact on other people’s lives. 

HC: We talk about the challenges of programming with libraries and how Hiveclass provides a solution by offering Active Programming. Similar to how some people are slow to adapt to new tech, surely there’ll be libraries hesitant at trying out new programming ideas – how do you approach the “if it’s not broken, why fix it” mentality? 

EL: To put it bluntly I think the library industry (and the people who work in it) are very intimately aware of the need to innovate in order to keep up with how quickly technology and patron habits change. From card catalogs and checkout cards being replaced with ILS softwares to buildings being renovated to make room for podcasting booths – libraries have always fixed what’s not broken. The question that needs to be asked is not “how can I fix this problem?” but rather “how can I engage with my patrons in a new way that I haven’t before?”

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