Interview: Cate Carlyle

If you dream small and achieve those dreams nothing really changes, but if you dream big your whole world can change and it is so wonderful when that happens!

Cate Carlyle is a curriculum resource coordinator, librarian at a small Halifax university and also reviews children’s and young adult books for CM Magazine: Canadian Review of Materials. She’s a writer (“Your Passport to International Librarianship”ALA 2018, “Not Ready to Die” Common Deer Press 2019) and amazing international library volunteer who can inspire young professionals around the world.

We asked Cate a few unusual questions. Read the interview below and find out more about this awesome Canadian librarian.


NPSIG: How did you become a librarian?

Cate: My mom worked evenings in our small town library and I spent a lot of time there as a child but I didn’t even consider libraries as a career until I was working half time as a classroom teacher and half time in a school library. I realized I much preferred the library part of my day, made the leap and left teaching completely to work in public libraries. I went to school part time for my Master of Library and Information Science degree while working as a public library assistant and eventually transitioned to special academic libraries.


NPSIG:  What other things do you think libraries are good at today, besides books and silence?

Cate: The libraries that I have worked in and visited are most definitely not about silence and books… they are bustling hubs of activity: maker spaces, community gathering spots, job search sites, creative studios, literacy and learning centers, and family reading areas. I think libraries today are good at gathering and connecting people and groups, promoting literacy, meeting the needs of their communities and introducing new technologies.

NPSIG:  What percentage of technique and what percentage of creativity would you propose for the ideal librarian?

Cate: This is a tricky one. Obviously we need both creativity and technique in library work, and in most careers for that matter, but I think this also depends on what type of library you work in. I found that creativity was really important when reaching students in the elementary school library that I worked in, for displays, programming, activities, and literacy initiatives. I also found creativity important working in public libraries and special libraries. And who doesn’t need to be creative when working with limited budgets? While volunteering in libraries in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua creativity was key when dealing with limited technology, staff and resources.  I haven’t worked in corporate or legal or medical libraries but I am guessing that technique must be of greater importance in those areas.


NPSIG: What is the librarian’s best friend?

Cate: The library user. Without them there would be no library.


NPSIG:  Who is your library idol?

Cate: Can I add an ‘s’ to idol please??? I am in awe of so many library professionals: Sandra Singh here in Canada, Carla Hayden in the United States, Ilona Kish in Europe, Clare McKenzie, Alyson Dalby and Kate Byrne of the former International Librarians Network, and the entire team behind Librarians without Borders, just to name a few.  I am also in awe of the unsung front line staff in public libraries who deal with the public every day, navigating mental health issues, complaints, and mystery items in book return bins, and all with a smile. You are noticed, we see and appreciate you.


NPSIG: Your favorite superhero?

Cate: I am a child of the 1970s who watched a lot of television, so it has to be Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman. That bustier, those boots, the magic belt, not a hair out of place even when taking down the bad guys?! Sure she may have embodied female stereotypes and set unachievable appearance goals for innocent girls, but she was a lot of fun to watch and super smart to boot!


NPSIG:  If you could go back in time to your 20s, what would you tell yourself?

Cate: I would tell myself to worry less, enjoy the moments and dream big. It wasn’t until I had reached a certain age that I realized that with big risks come big rewards and that anything really is possible with motivation, hard work and vision. If you dream small and achieve those dreams nothing really changes, but if you dream big your whole world can change and it is so wonderful when that happens!


NPSIG: Message for new professionals?

Cate: My message would be to not be afraid to try something new. Have a great idea for a program that’s never been done? Give it a try! Now’s the time to find what works and what doesn’t, to shake things up a bit. I’d also advise seeking out mentors, either formally or informally, and soaking up whatever knowledge and experience you can. There are some amazing information professionals out there.

NPSIG: Thanks, Cate!


You can find Cate on Twitter: @liberrycate 



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