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CILA: Issue 11, Jonathan Skipper

Issue 11, January 2021

Member Jonathan Skipper, Spain

Q: Tell us about your journey to librarianship.

A: I had a temporary job as a library assistant many years ago in England (I'm English) and have always had an interest in books and theology; nevertheless, I am surprised to have ended up as a librarian! Having spent 10 years in student ministry in Spain, I wanted to move into theological education, particularly teaching. At the same time, the Facultad Internacional de Teología IBSTE here in Barcelona was looking for a new librarian and asked if I would be interested. Well, it was providential timing and to be honest, the work in the library has been a near-perfect fit for the gifts and interests God has given me. I do library work roughly half the time, and dedicate the rest of my time to teaching, mostly with IBSTE (I teach courses on study methods and the theology of worship).

I am not trained as a librarian so have had to learn along the way and am aware of my limitations. With my limited time and resources my goals since I started have been to expand the library’s opening hours, mobilize student volunteers, process a long backlog of books, set up an OPAC for the first time ever (we use Koha), and identify online resources in Spanish for students (not easy).

Q: How long have you been a librarian?

A: I started in September 2018.

Q: What facet of the profession or your day-to-day responsibilities are you most passionate about?

A: Improving the library’s resources and training students to use them!

Q: What are some ways you market services/resources to library users?

A: We are a very small seminary, so I give a lot of one-on-one help, but I also do training for 1st years, and communicate through the OPAC, internal message boards, presentation, secondhand book sales, etc.

Q: What are some low budget or free professional development venues that you participate in currently?

A: The Librarian’s Manual from the ACL was vital to start me off, alongside ACL forums, but to be honest, I have had little time up to now to pursue more serious forms of professional development.

Q: What is the single most challenging thing for you to accomplish as an international librarian? [i.e. purchasing print resources, funding professional development activities, providing resources to library users who may not have the internet at home, etc.?]

A: Yes, purchasing print resources is a challenge, and there is never enough time to make progress on the never-ending list of improvements the library needs!

Q: If CILA were to support your library in the future, what would your single greatest need be?

A: Perhaps funding to fill significant gaps we have in key English-language theological resources, or a team of volunteers to help in a substantial reorganization of our library space.