Our first interview is with Jaime Martindale, Map and Geospatial Data Librarian [Extraordinaire] at the UW-Madison Arthur H. Robinson Map Library.
I first met Jaime in 2003 when she started working at the library. The transformation of the library has been nothing short of astonishing. What started out as hard copy maps and some digital data where students had to visit the library in person to access the data, has morphed into a vast digital library where students and researchers can obtain statewide geographic data with a visit to the GeoData@Wisconsin website. She made the news last year by finding the site of a WWII-era crash site in Wisconsin. You can follow the Map Library on Twitter: @UWRobinsonMap.
Let’s meet Jaime.
Jaime has been the Map & Geospatial Data Librarian at the Robinson Map Library since November 2003. She received her B.S. degree in Biological Aspects of Conservation and a Masters Degree (MLIS) in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She was the Geographic Information Systems librarian at Cornell University’s Albert R. Mann Library prior to taking over the Robinson Map Library at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a member of North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS), the Wisconsin Library Association (WLA), the Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians (WAAL), and the Wisconsin Land Information Association (WLIA).
Jaime is responsible for acquiring, cataloging, and assisting with access to library collections including maps, atlases, photos, and digital geospatial data. She teaches introductory workshops in GIS and does course-related instruction in Geography, Landscape Architecture, Urban & Regional Planning, and Library & Information Studies.
WiGIS WI: How long have you been in the GIS field?
JM: I started my career as a GIS librarian at Cornell in 2002, so I’ve been in the field of managing and providing access to geospatial data for 15 years.
WiGIS WI: What keeps you motivated in the work you do every day?
JM: Working in the academic environment is inspiring. Seeing how students use and analyze data, and witnessing first-hand their creativity in cartography and GIS projects is why I love my job. Playing a role in helping to create broader online access to geospatial data that [historically] has been challenging to find is extremely motivating. Once acquiring data becomes easier for users, and they are more self-reliant in their discovery process, I believe I’ve made a positive impact.
WiGIS WI: What challenges do you face in your job?
JM: While there are always challenges in learning new technologies and rising to meet the needs of students and their evolving expectations, two of the largest issues that pose challenges are probably common for others as well…time and budgets. We are often held back in our endeavors because there isn’t enough time or money to achieve everything we want to. But, I think it’s during challenging times that the most meaningful collaborations come together. We find other agencies or individuals to work with that offer knowledge and expertise to complement our own, in an effort to achieve a common goal.
WiGIS WI: Who inspires or has inspired you?
JM: There are a few people in the field that I admire and often look to for advice and guidance. Marcy Bidney is one of them. I first met her when she was the Map & GIS librarian at Penn State when we were collaborating on several Big Ten library initiatives. She’s now the curator of the American Geographical Society Library at UW-Milwaukee. I worked at the AGSL as a student during my undergraduate and graduate studies, so the collection is very personal and meaningful to me. The fact that Marcy curates this collection (one of the largest in the world) is just one of many reasons to admire her. She has a ton of responsibility and there is tradition and history to be honored at the AGSL. Being mindful of that history, while planning for the future is a delicate balance she has to consistently maintain. She does it well.
JM: Don’t underestimate your own abilities, especially your ability to learn, grow and lead. I didn’t get this until later in life. As I approach my 40th birthday, I’ve thought about the times in my life I didn’t have the confidence to throw my hat in the ring for a role in an important project or leadership opportunity. Having (and displaying) confidence in your own abilities is important, but so is having confidence in your ability to learn and grow along the way. Give yourself that chance. You’ll never know unless you make the leap.
WiGIS WI: Do you have a favorite quote, inspirational saying or mantra that you live by?
JM: You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
WiGIS WI: What do you like to do when you aren’t at work?
JM: I’ve always been a runner and I’ve recently taken up cycling. But the thing that has really taken me out of my comfort zone is golf. I took golf lessons this summer and have been practicing like a maniac. I’m terrible at it! But for some reason I keep coming back. At this point, for every five shots I make, there’s one really good one — and that tiny glimmer of potential has been enough to keep me going. I’m literally at the driving range about every other day. I even bought clubs…so now I’m really committed.
ETA: Many thanks to Kelly Felton, who helped in the writing of this interview.