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Library staff lends helping hand with research to students, staff

Posted on 04.26.2017

Shelving, checking in and out and processing books, assisting patrons and working on any projects that the library needs completed are just some of the responsibilities of student librarian and senior creative writing major Heather Nickolich. Nickolich has been working in the Krannert Memorial Library since 2014. Working in libraries ultimately led Nickolich to change her career goals to becoming an academic librarian.

“I’ve worked in libraries since my sophomore year in high school. I realized that I just enjoyed it a lot more than possibly becoming a doctor to help people,” Nickolich said. “You work with such intelligent people, or people who are willing to learn, and that’s something I value.”

Nickolich said that she likes working at Krannert because she has more responsibilities than she did as a page. There are also more opportunities for her to interact with people and more projects for her to work on.

“I love the people, and I love doing the things I do, like checking in books and making small talk with people and returning ILLs and helping Jill with projects,” she said. “I love being in that assistant’s position because I don’t have to work with a lot of the numbers or a lot of the tech . . . I can work with people all day.”

Public services librarian and interim library director Marisa Albrecht helps a student librarian during her shift. Photo by Kiuno Cann

Public services librarian and interim library director Marisa Albrecht helps a student librarian during her shift. Photo by Kiuno Cann

Unlike Nickolich, student librarian and music education major Katie Stuart is not planning to continue working in a library after graduating. However, she said she is going to take some of the things she learned working in the library into her future classroom.

“It’s taught me how to communicate with people that might not understand what has to happen with whatever their request is. So if you ask me for something over the moon, and I have to work way harder to do it than you think, I’ve learned how to describe that,” Stuart said. “I’ve learned how to communicate with people that don’t necessarily speak English, because our campus is really diverse.”

Public services librarian Marisa Albrecht did not take the same path into librarianship as Nickolich.

“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was kind of floating around,” Albrecht said. “I worked at the library while I finished my undergraduate. While I was there, I just really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed the environment. I enjoyed helping people.  I never made the decision when I was young, ‘Oh, I want to be a librarian when I grow up.’ I never said that. But it was just kind of natural; it made sense.”

Since January, Albrecht has also served as the interim library director, so she is not only covering the responsibilities of her original job but those of the director as well. Albrecht covers the circulation desk and reference questions, hires, trains and schedules the student assistants and handles budget issues and decisions that fall on the director’s shoulders.

“With being the director now, I get to see a little bit more of the whole picture, which has been nice. I get to learn a little bit more about all aspects of the library,” Albrecht said. “This has been a good learning experience too.”

Albrecht said that despite the additional responsibilities that make it harder for her to interact with students, helping people is still one of her favorite parts of the job.

“I always like it when I can make somebody’s day,” she said. “Like if they have been struggling finding something ,and I finally find the thing that they need. That always makes me happy that I have…gotten them what they need. ”

Reference Librarian Tedra Richter said that she also likes being able to help and interact with the library’s patrons. In addition, the ever-changing nature of the job is one of her favorite aspects.

“No two days are ever exactly the same,” she said. “One day, I might get a question of something very routine and then an hour later,  I’ll be helping somebody halfway across the country with a question on something I’ve never even heard of before, which keeps things from getting boring. That is the one thing I remember when I graduated high school: I did not want a regular office job. Yeah, there are some office-y aspects, but it allows for a lot of flexibility.”

Richter worked as a page in her public library during high school and graduated as a licensed nail tech. She worked as a manicurist to help pay for her undergraduate degree. Upon graduatng, Richter talked with a professor and her former bosses at the public library, who all suggested that she look into becoming a librarian, an idea to which she initially resisted.

“It was, ‘Well, OK, maybe it’s time I just say I’m an information specialist and bite the bullet,’” Richter said. “And so I started. At IUPUI, you can take three classes in grad studies before you had to officially commit, so I thought, ‘OK, let’s try this out,’ and it started to fit.”

Richter started at UIndy as a part- time reference assistant before moving up to reference librarian. Richter covers reference questions on several different fronts, including in-person, via an email form, the Ask a Librarian Chat and Text a Librarian. She also teaches the library instruction courses, which help students learn how to navigate and search the library’s databases.

Having access to all the books, articles and information within the library is one of Circulation Assistant Susan Miller’s favorite parts of the job. Miller came to UIndy 12 years ago when she was looking for a career change.

“I’ve always loved being in libraries,” Miller said. “I was a journalist for years before I came here, and the newspaper industry was changing rapidly, and so I was looking for something else. I’ve always loved being in libraries and I heard about this job and I applied and I got it.”

As interim library director, Albrecht focuses on making students’ experiences in the library as positive as possible. Recently, the library added a bulletin board and a microwave for students to use. Albrecht also has set up a feedback whiteboard where students can write requests or ideas they have to improve the space.

“We want students to feel like they can be open with us and say what they want. We’re here for students. That’s why we’re all here. And so we want to make their experience positive,” she said. “The little things that I can do, I will try to do.”

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