The Heart of the Hill
In association with National Library Week we are celebrating our hard working Business Librarians, Leah Kodner and Alex Ingham. Come in and visit with them and see how they can help you explore your next business steps.
How did you get connected to the James J. Hill Center?
Leah: I first learned about The Hill from reading the job board at St. Kate’s during my last semester working on my Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree. The more I learned about the library, the more I wanted to work there. I was hired in March 2014, shortly after finishing my MLIS, and this became my second professional library job.
Alex: I began my career at the Hill as an intern. Later a position opened in library services and I pursued it.
What does your day as a business librarian look like?
Leah: Throughout the day, I respond to reference inquiries via email, phone, chat, and in person at the library. I spend the majority of the day teaching patrons in the library how to use our databases and introducing them to new sources of information. During my downtime, I work on other projects, such as cataloging and organizing our print and archival collections.
Alex: No two days are alike here at the Hill. While answering visitor inquiries – whether in-person, on the phone, or virtually – takes up the bulk of the day, a significant amount of time is spent on special projects, too. The Hill is home to a physical collection numbering in the hundreds of thousands and spanning nearly a dozen sub-collections, so tending to its upkeep and organization can be a colossal task at times.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Leah: I love the satisfaction that comes from helping the patrons. It’s great to help someone out who comes into the building stressed and apprehensive about the project they’re working on, and helping them find the information they need quickly and painlessly. Watching somebody leave with a relieved smile on their face at the end of the day is the best!
Alex: I revel in a challenge and am always eager to give attention to the unconventional question that might come across my desk.
What do you want people to know about you?
Leah: I want people to know that they can approach me! I’m happy to answer any questions about the library and about our resources. Remember, there’s no such thing as a stupid question!
Alex: I come from a teaching and learning background and have always been drawn to libraries. The concept of community is one that equally excites me. The James J. Hill Center balances these two elements well and I could not feel more at home here.
What sets our reference library apart from others?
Leah: We’re a really unique institution. We’ve got the best publicly available business reference databases around. Using our resources, you can gather industry and competitive data for a business plan, build sales lists, learn the demographics of your target market, find funding sources, and more.
Alex: The one-on-one support offered at the Hill is unparalleled. Our reference librarians are very knowledgeable and familiar with the resources we offer.
The James J. Hill Center mission honors the legacy of its founder by continuing to support entrepreneurial spirit in the 21st Century. We offer research, programs, and networking for each stage of business development. Our efforts also include services to the broader community through the hosting of cultural and artistic programming and events. Visit us in downtown Saint Paul at 80 West Fourth Street, off the corner of Market and Fourth.