Say hello to Mary Odom, Director of Library Services for the International Association of Assessing Officers, in this latest installment of the “20 (or so) Questions” series.
1. Describe the work done by your employer and how you support the organization’s mission.
The International Association of Assessing Officers is a nonprofit education and research organization that supports property tax assessors in local government jurisdictions. We are a professional development association just like SLA, except our members are assessment professionals. We publish a peer-reviewed journal for practitioners and provide credentialing for our members. I serve the research function of IAAO by providing access to resources on property appraisal, assessment administration, and property tax policy.
2. What percentage of your collection is electronic?
20% and growing, soon to be adding e-books to our collection.
3. Describe the services that you provide to your patrons.
I answer reference questions concerning the valuation of various types of properties almost every day. I also conduct in-depth research on policies and practices that local jurisdictions need for decision-making, for defending values that are under appeal, or for situations that arise such as the property damage done in the recent tragedy in Boston. IAAO stands for fairness in property tax administration, so our members are constantly doing research to stay on top of the ever-changing real estate market.
4. How many patrons do you serve?
5. What’s the most used / requested /circulated item in your collection?
A publication that IAAO created and updates annually called Property Tax Policies and Administrative Practices in the United States and Canada. Because all of the states and provinces have different property tax systems, IAAO tracks what’s happening in each state and province and maintains a central repository for use by legislators, researchers, and members.
6. How long have you worked there?
7. Do you have an MLS and if so, what school did you receive your degree from?
I graduated from the University of Missouri- Columbia with an MLS and also have a Realtor’s license which helped me initially with the learning curve of property appraisal.
8. What’s the strangest information request you’ve received?
The strangest questions are from taxpayers who confuse us with police officers because we have “officers” in the name of our organization. “Is this where I can file a complaint about my assessor?” No, we don’t have any authority over your local assessor.
9. What databases do you subscribe to?
Gale Custom Journals database allows special libraries to select 100 journals to make a custom database of full text articles. It’s one of the best deals around for small budgets. I also subscribe to IntelliConnect Tax Research Network from CCH.
10. Have you always been a “Solo”, or did you become one due to organizational change?
I’ve always been a solo, however I have recently added a professional half-time person to the staff. This has challenged me to grow in so many unexpected ways since I’m now supervising and also have the benefit of having another professional with which to collaborate.
11. Is the library an independent part of your organization, or do you report into a larger department?
The Research Department encompasses the library, however we do not currently have a Research Director. So my department has only 1 and a half employees who are both librarians.
12. What do you do to market yourself as a librarian within your organization?
I attend our annual educational conference and two other smaller seminars every year and conduct on-site research consultations with attendees. For those who are not able to attend, I promote my services through our monthly magazine Fair & Equitable, broadcast emails, web site, Facebook page, and LinkedIn group.
13. Are you involved in any “non-library” activities in your organization? If so, what are they?
I help to plan the education content for 2 seminars, obtain and track continuing legal education credits from state bar associations and supreme courts around the country, and administer a certificate program for local jurisdictions that undergo an intense evaluation process. These responsibilities allow me to engage with all departments in my organization which in turn allows me to anticipate needs that my own department can fill. In 2010, I informally surveyed solo librarians about this topic of “non-library” tasks and received 119 responses. Out of those responses, 70% indicated that they have “non-library” responsibilities. I’d love to share those findings in a future article if anyone is interested.
14. Do you currently (or plan to) have any library-themed tattoos?
I have fun with the Illustrated Librarian temporary tattoos. My favorite is “Read or Die”. I also love to wear my library-themed shirt that says “It’s All About the Library” (purchased from www.stopfalling.com). (see photo below!)
15. As solos, we don’t have the luxury of walking down the hall to talk to librarian colleagues. When you have a problem, need advice, or simply want to talk shop, where are some of your favorite places to go?
My local chapter (Kansas/Western Missouri) is a priceless asset to my job that has provided excellent local education programs and numerous networking opportunities. I also contacted my ILS vendor and asked for names of other local users and then organized a user’s group for my area. Most importantly, I have a mentor in another state who operates a library with a similar collection as mine and who is willing to spend time on the phone discussing issues and ideas. Everyone needs a mentor like him, who is farther along in his career and willing to give back to our profession.
16. Read any good books lately?
The Cybrarian’s Web by Cheryl Ann Peltier-Davis.
17. Name one of your guilty pleasures.
Hot stone and Swedish full-body massage.
18. What kind of music do you like?
I’d honestly rather listen to audiobooks on my smartphone, iPad, or in the car.
19. What are your hobbies outside of work?
Zumba (Latin-themed dance workouts), Sci-Fi movies, and most recently I discovered Pinterest. I also serve in my church library which has launched its catalog online this year, and is one of only 93 in the country to do so.
20. What would be your ideal vacation? Have you done it, yet?
I was married in Hawaii on the island of Oahu in 2001 and would love to cruise all of the Hawaiian islands on a two-week vacation. My husband has always wanted to cruise Alaska, so that’s our vacation for this year. Perhaps I will get to go back to Hawaii for our 15th anniversary.