Tyler Martindale quit his real estate appraiser job and started waiting tables and bartending not long after he graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in business economics.
“I had that early millennial mindset, and I didn’t want to do something I didn’t derive personal satisfaction from for the rest of my life,” he said. “So I was figuring things out. While I was doing that, I was going to my local public library in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and thinking that the services it provided me were invaluable.”
So he began volunteering at that library, and soon the director there – SIS alumni David Johnson (‘93) – started informally mentoring him and convinced Martindale to look at the program at the University of Tennessee. Martindale didn’t jump right into it, he kicked around the idea for a few years. But once he applied to the program, Associate Professor Rachel Fleming-May contacted him about being part of a special User Experience Assessment cohort and he started the master’s program in 2016.
If there’s one thing that really surprised Martindale about the SIS program, it was all the possibilities. He went in thinking he’d be a public librarian and go back to that same branch in Fayetteville, which was expanding and would be hiring more librarians right around the time he was set to graduate.
“Through experiences the program provided, I started to consider alternative paths – I was working as an intern at Oak Ridge in their research library… and the UXA program had me doing work that wasn’t necessarily public library focused, and I started realizing that the good I wanted to do through public libraries could be achieved at other places.”
He also had the opportunity to do a practicum with the NASA Distributed Active Archive Center, which is research group based out of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and is the custodian of Earth Observing System data. He helped track citations to data sets the group was generating and archiving. This opportunity was particularly impactful, Martindale said, because he knew the research he was supporting could change people’s lives for the better.
“I was open to any opportunity that allowed me to serve in a capacity that would allow me to help connect people to information,” he said.
He applied at an array of institutions after he graduated in 2018, including medical libraries, academic libraries and even that public library branch in Fayetteville. As it turns out, there was a job waiting for him that combined his hands-on experience in the program with his past business degree and career. He was an ideal candidate for a position as a business librarian at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama.
“The opportunity to connect with folks who reminded me of myself, and show them some tools and resources that would improve their school work to allow them to build some critical thinking skills…I couldn’t pass that up,” he said.
Business information can be a challenge, as it faces issues of proprietary information that other subject areas may not. As liaison to the College of Business and Economics, Martindale serves about 6,000 students and 130 faculty, and provides instructions on how to use business information, alongside conducting reference services, research support and outreach. He particularly enjoys helping students to think creatively about problem solving.
While it took a little time for him to “figure it out,” Martindale said he’s happy with the
“I can empathize with anyone who has no idea what they want to do, but I’m glad I did what I did and took my time. Being a little older and coming to the program not straight out of undergrad gave me some perspective on how fortunate I am to pursue a career of my choosing,” he said.