This month's myMETRO spotlight shines on Ramona Kohrs, who has been librarian at the Dag Hammarskjöld Library at United Nations Headquarters, New York, since 1989. Ramona has been a member of myMETRO since its inception in 2008.
For the past 5 years, Ramona Kohrs has been managing the Economic and Social Affairs Branch of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, the main library of the United Nations in New York. Ramona began her nearly 24-year career at the UN Library in New York as a cataloguer in August 1989. She has carried out a variety of functions, including the provision of specialized reference and research services, developing and delivering training courses on UN documentation and UN statistical resources, taking care of the 50,000 linear feet of physical collections, managing circulation and ILL/Document Delivery services and, most recently, running one of the three specialized branches.
Ramona studied library science with a specialization in public library service at the Library School of Hamburg Polytechnic where she graduated with an MLS-equivalent degree in 1985.
1. When did you first join myMETRO?
When individual memberships were offered in 2008, several colleagues, myself included, jumped on the opportunity. I think I was among the first one hundred people to join. I have the coffee mug to prove it!
2. Describe your work experience prior to joining the profession. What has been your most rewarding experience as a professional so far?
Early on in my career at the UN Library I was asked to participate in working groups tasked with proposing a new structure for the library, and to draft updated standards to classify the professional library posts in the UN system. I enjoyed doing the research and all of the lively discussions we had. I am proud of the report we presented to our Library Director at the time; it recommended a forward-looking structure.
In my current assignment as manager of the Economic and Social Affairs Branch, I was able to raise the visibility and profile of the Library by actively pushing information resources to the Secretariat department. The way I see it, staying on top of the research interests of our clients is the key to building relationships based on credibility and trust. My clients see that I am genuinely interested in the work they are doing, and I have derived a great deal of satisfaction from this process myself.
3. What drew you to your particular line of work?
After graduating from high school, I was not that sure which career to pursue. I had a talent for learning and speaking foreign languages, so I decided to try to become an interpreter (the dream of travelling all over the world played a role as well). When this did not work out for me, I went through a period of reflection and ploughing through guidebooks on available courses of study.
The idea that public libraries offer learning opportunities to people of all walks of life attracted me to library science. Public libraries are THE cornerstone of a democratic society and the great equalizer of opportunities. Information is power and libraries are tools of empowerment!
4. Tell us a little about the projects that capture your interest these days.
The UN Library is in the process of developing a digital repository. It’s in the early stages and I look forward to be able to contribute to the repository as a curator at some point. I’ve also been asked to develop a research guide on development. This is a priority area for the UN and a huge and extremely interdisciplinary topic. Developing this research guide will be a real challenge.
5. What are your favourite ways to stay on top of industry trends?
On a day-to-day basis, I read messages from listservs, as well as articles in the professional literature, including blogs.
Membership in professional associations is a must! That’s why I joined METRO when individual memberships were first offered. I am also a member of ALA and two of its chapters: the Library Leadership & Management Association (LLAMA) and the American Indian Library Association (AILA). I try to attend one professional conference each year. They’re great for networking, spotting opportunities for collaboration outside the UN, and for seeing new products from vendors first-hand.
6. What do you find most valuable about your myMETRO membership?
Definitely the great discounts on workshops and training, as well as the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with fellow librarians and information professionals from around the city.
Are you a myMETRO Member? Would you like to be featured in a myMETRO spotlight? Contact Tom Nielsen at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.