Get to Know Your Reference Librarians: Zeineb Yousif

Get to know your librarians. Find out more about your favorite reference librarians: Zeineb YousifIn the spring, we highlighted five of the librarians who staff the reference desk, but there are five more that you might recognize from visiting the library. These librarians sit behind the Ask a Librarian desk and are ready to answer your questions and help you with your research. (Check out the previous interviews!)

Today’s interview comes from Zeineb Yousif, CFL’s Digital Initiatives Librarian and subject specialist for physics. To contact her or learn more about her educational background, please visit her profile page.

Where did you grow up?

The GTA (General Toronto Area) in Ontario, Canada! I was a city girl from day one: before I came to Grand Forks, I’d never lived anywhere with a population under six digits.

How did you make your way to the Grand Forks area?

Through the valiant shared efforts of Air Canada and Delta Airlines. Does this count as an endorsement? I am absolutely willing to consider offering celebrity librarian endorsements in exchange for discounted airfare. Delta, call me!

In all seriousness I moved here a year ago to work for the library’s newly christened Digital Initiatives, Systems, and Services department. They lured me in with siren songs like ‘you can help us create our institutional repository!’ and ‘we have so much stuff to put up online! Think of all the scholarly content you can make freely available to the world!’

How they knew of my weakness for sharing free things with other people I’ll never know.

What is your favorite place to eat in the Grand Forks area and what do you usually order/recommend?

I really like the samosas at Steers Restaurant (2915 S Washington St) and the shrimp dumplings at Sakura Japanese Steakhouse (3250 32nd Ave South).

What is your favorite spot in Chester Fritz Library?

Whenever I want a chance to stretch my legs I enjoy walking around the library and checking out the artwork and displays. It’s like a free art exhibit where I get to influence the exhibit choices! What could be more fun than that?

I guess you can take that as either the walls or the entire library.

Zeineb Yousif, Digital Initiatives Librarian
Zeineb Yousif, Digital Initiatives Librarian

Why did you decide to become a librarian?

Long ago in the sandy mists of time (translation: five years ago) I was wandering my public library indulging in my time-honoured pastime of borrowing all the teen novels as a healthy distraction from Important Life Decisions. I was thinking about how much I liked spending time in the library and the huge range of stuff librarians get to do – run programs, develop collections, conduct research projects, work computer magic – you’d never be bored! It sure would be nice to have a job like that, wouldn’t it? But how would you even become a librarian? That’s like being a princess or something, it’s not a thing real people get to do.

Cut to some highly enlightening Google searches and our heroine embarked on a quest for the mythical Masters in Library Science degree.

What is the craziest or most interesting job you’ve ever had?

Well, this one time I decided I wanted to be a librarian and started working as an acquisitions technician for a public library cooperative. Did you know if you work for a library acquisitions department they’ll do crazy things like give you a purchasing card and let you start buying whatever CDs you think would be good to have available for a whole county’s worth of cities? It’s true!

What strange skills do you have that many other people don’t?

Witness the amazing digital initiatives librarian! See her spend her entire workday on the computer and then go home and computer some more! How do her eyes still work? How do her fingers still type? Why won’t she listen to her mother and pick up hobbies that don’t involve screens?

Alternatively, I’m a pretty decent baker but that’s not particularly strange.

What skill or talent do you wish you had?

The ability to pick up foreign languages quickly. I’d also take flying as a close second place option.

What do you think your life’s theme song would be?

I was having real difficulty with this question and then I thought of the perfect song. I feel like the singer’s focus on curiosity and interest in sharing knowledge with the world really speaks to the values that got me interested in librarianship.

What book do you think everyone should read and why?

This is an impossible question; it’s like asking what’s your favorite book. I’m just going to take it as ‘hey Zeineb, tell us about a really good book you’ve read recently that you want to pass along, no need to worry about whether it’s truly the best or if you ought to be taking your 15 minutes of fame right now to talk about any of the hundreds of other brilliant books you think people should read’. So with that said Sam Maggs’ Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History is a fun book that looks at the accomplishments of various women who broke barriers in the arts, sciences, adventuring, engineering – pretty much all the cool things you can think of. It’s a quick read which is good because you’ll probably be hunting for biographies on several of the women it highlights once you finish.