Hi, I’m Gina

Hi, my name is Gina Millsap and I’m the executive director of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. I’ve been in the library biz for 34 years and I can honestly say I look forward to going to work every day, and I learn something new, sometimes several new things, every day. I’m incredibly lucky to have a job I love, colleagues I respect and like a lot and a passion for what I do.

This is my first post and I think it’s apt that it’s about my recent experience as a library customer. As the guy on the Hair Club for Men commercial says, “I’m not just the president, I’m a client.” Well, me too, but for the Library, not Hair Club for Men.

I found out a few weeks ago that I needed a hysterectomy, not an unusual situation for a woman in her mid-50s. After I got over the initial bit of shock, I went into librarian mode —- get information, get it now! The first place I went was the Health Information Neighborhood here at the Library. Since I still like to think of myself as a reasonably proficient reference librarian, I did my own search first and found several books including, The Complete Guide to Hysterectomy: a Gynecologist’s Advice on Your Choices Before, During and After Surgery, Including Alternatives to Hysterectomy by Dr. Lauren Streicher (616.1453/STR) and The Hysterectomy Hoax; the Truth about Why Hysterectomies Are Unnecessary and How to Avoid Them by Stanley West (616.1453/WES)

My husband and I read these together and discussed them. They were enormously helpful in making decisions.

I also visited the library’s website, called the Digital Branch. There’s a Health and Wellness section including online resources the Library subscribes to like Consumer Health Complete with information ranging from very technical evidence-based reports to reference books, pamphlets, even videos!

After conducting my own search, I consulted with Scarlett Fisher-Herreman, the librarian in charge of the Health Information Neighborhood and our resident consumer health specialist. She recommended several other sources including a website, HysterSisters, which offers not only a wealth of information, but also women sharing their experiences and advice and a network of support.

Tip: Always check with a librarian. You’ll be amazed what a difference a trained information professional can make in what information you find, how quickly you find it and the options s/he will give you.

So it’s been a couple of weeks, and I’m doing great. I’m working from home and as a matter of fact, I wrote this post exactly a week after my surgery. And remember your library the next time you have a question or concern about your or a loved one’s health.

I’d really like to hear your experiences and thoughts about the Library. You have an open invitation to post to my blog. Let’s get to know each other.

Here’s a question to get us started. What have you discovered at the library that’s made a difference in your life?

12 thoughts on “Hi, I’m Gina”

  1. What a great message Gina! I think it’s awesome that your husband and you discussed your medical condition and the library resources you checked out together. Communication and loving support means everything when making healthcare decisions. That is so cool.

    In answer to your question, I would like to say that getting my first job at the public library in Omaha opened my eyes to the world of information at my fingertips. I will never forget the feeling of standing in the aisle shelving books and thinking, “every day I get to come here and explore these books and learn about whatever I want and it’s all right here!” I was completely hooked fm. that moment on and I still get excited about research and about connecting people to information.

    For me, coming to work every day is an opportunity to discover something new and to make a difference in the lives of the people I serve. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  2. Gina,
    Get well soon!

    Libraries have transformed my life in ways I never thought possible.
    From working the circulation desk at a law library in Ohio, ‘just a job,’ to being the director of the Lester Public Library in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, public libraries are now a passion, not just a job, for me.

    My seven years at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library prepared me for the next leg in my library journey, for that I will be forever thankful.
    Good luck with the blog!

  3. Hi Gina!

    I have been wondering about your myterious absence…My “situation” happened much earlier in life … with no other options available to me … and also, you are so lucky to have had your husband by your side to help you make your decisions.

    Hope you are feeling healthy and strong again very soon.

  4. Here are some of the things I’ve discovered at the library that have made a difference in my life:

    Craft books and magazines, especially knitting and crochet. I learned to knit at a library program at TSCPL.
    Paperback Regency romances, which are still my absolute favorite way to escape after a long day.

    TV on DVD. I don’t need a fancy Tivo or DVR, I can check out an entire season of a television show and watch it at my convenience. I love things like Weeds, Psych and Eureka but never would have discovered them on my own.

    The funny fantastical fiction of Jasper Fforde, who I discovered on the New Books Shelf. The black humor of Carl Hiaasen, who was recommended to me by a librarian.

    I am noticing that my list is all about relaxing things. I think because I work at a library, I probably take for granted all of the informational resources, including my fellow “expert” librarians who help me every day with my important questions (and my not-important questions too!)

  5. Hi Gina,

    I think your blog is great – good for you for dipping your toe in the water!
    I’m sorry you had to go through the hysterectomy business but I’m glad to hear you’re doing well. That was the surgery I had when they discovered GIST instead. I’m glad you didn’t have any surprises with your surgery.
    I’m in Nashville for the PLA symposium and vacationing a bit as well. We went to the Clinton presidential library in Little Rock and loved it.

    I hope you continue to feel better.
    Best wishes!

  6. Great blog & posting, Gina! I, too, learn something new every day and the library is a big part of that.

    Take care!

  7. I too was wondering about your dissapearance here and I am glad that you came through alright and you have a wonderful support system. I also have many stories here about the library, even as far back as telling the panel of 3 on my very first interview (‘98) that it was my dream since a little girl that I wanted to work in a library.

    I remember checking books out and pretending that I was my own little librian and would check them out to all my dolls…cute huh? And when I was pregnant with my daughter a little over 4yrs ago, well before any neighborhood sections, you could find me going through all the books that pertained to pregnancy with diabetes, what to expect with diabetes and how to care for myself and my little girl in and out of the womb. I can tell you it kept my sanity together and was pretty relaxing in those aisles, just to know I had all that information right there whenever I needed it. And on the internet we provide, I also found some wonderful sites that have helpful communties and theire own brand of “mother’s advice”

    It’s also my opinion that if you work at a library, you can’t help getting swept up in the comraderrie of people who share the same passion as you. It’s like a family…atleast to me

  8. My thanks to everyone who shared their experiences at the library and for the good wishes! I just returned from the Kansas Library Association conference in Wichita. I had the opportunity to meet with Camila Alire, the president-elect of the American Library Association. Camila’s focus for her presidency is the power of library advocacy by front line library staff. Library staff who share their stories are one of the most effective ways of explaining the power of libraries to change lives. I am proud of how many of the TSCPl staff do this every day. Keep it up!

  9. Hi Gina,

    Just checkin’ in to see what you and the library are up to. Like the blog alot. Next time I’ll have something intelligent to say!

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