Mrs. Joanne Kim graciously agreed to let me interview her before she exited the doors of the PCC Shatford Library one last time as a teacher and director for the Library Technology Program. Sitting in her office, amidst boxes as she had been packing for the last couple of weeks in preparation for her retirement, it was nice to chat with her about her life and career as a librarian and more.
Mrs. Kim's Pathway to Librarianship
Surprisingly, I found out that she didn't originally plan on becoming a librarian. She had been working on her Ph.D in Linguistics but at some point realized that teaching jobs in that field are scarce. Mrs. Kim said, "I like to meet and teach people so that's why I decided to go into the library field."
In her early 30's, she started her Master's program at Indiana University but transferred and finished up at the University of South Carolina due to her husband getting a job in South Carolina.
Her first librarian job was at a small college in South Carolina for a period of 4 years. Once again due to a change in her husband's job, they moved to California. Her second job was with Modesto College for 5 1/2 years. After that, they settled down in the Los Angeles area. For the next 27 years, she served PCC's Shatford Library in various positions.
Mrs. Kim truly has worn many hats over the past 27 years. She first started out as an Acquisitions Librarian for 3 years. Later, she was the Library Director and then went back to being Acquisitions Librarian for 2 years again. From 1984-1990, Mrs. Kim was also a Dean. For the last 8 years, she has been the Program Director for the Library Technology Program.
In addition, she has taught classes in the Library Technology Program. I asked about how long the program has been around. Mrs. Kim said that it started back in 1964 but came to an end in 1982. Then it started up again in the early 90s. The second time they stopped offering the program was due to lack of time because of moving to our current library building. Then they started up the program again in 2000.
When asked what she liked most about working here at Pasadena City College, Mrs. Kim said, "I love PCC. It's an excellent school. We have good students, teachers, and staff here. I love the fact that it's ethnically diverse." She further explained that life in South Carolina wasn't ethnically diverse like it is here.
Advice to Students
When asked what advice she has for students, Mrs. Kim said, "Enjoy what you're learning and don't worry so much about your grades."
In response to the question of learning English, Mrs. Kim shared her experiences, "I majored in the English Literature at college in Korea. But that was not enough to survive and sustain my academic life here in the United States. I stayed every night to study much harder than normal American-born students. Within two semesters of studying at the University of Colorado, I lost twenty pounds of my weight. It could be a combination effect of stress and lack of sleep. There is no magic in learning English. One has to spend more attention and time to study constantly. I still have some foreign accent but my students all accepted me as your teacher."
She also talked about how PCC's Library Technology program is a good foundation for succeeding in a MLIS program. She pointed out that textbooks used in this program are the same level as those used in a MLIS program. Sometimes the very same books are used.
"Don't let anything get in the way of your dreams" Mrs. Kim emphasized. She also encourages students to apply for as many scholarships as possible.
Now that Mrs. Kim has plenty of time on her hands, she plans to paint, travel with her husband who is retiring as well, catch up on her reading and spend more time with her grandchildren-2 grandsons and 1 granddaughter. Their first trip will be to a cruise to Norway/Sweden in the late summer. In addition, they plan to go to New York to see their two grandsons. In the fall, they will be travelling to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Sounds like a wonderful way to start retirement!