last updated 11/8/2011
Want to share your memories of working at the library, and tell us what you've been up to since then? We’d love to hear from you! Email Rebecca Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know where you are now.
I recently received a note about joining up with the KU library alumni... I worked at Watson as a student cataloger from 1998-2000, with Geri and Alex Slater and Bob ___?
Following KU, I worked as an archives intern at the MoMA in NYC, then attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for graduate work in Art History (MA, 2003). During that time I also worked as a page at the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries of Art & Architecture at AIC.
Since that time, I have been active as a jazz and improvised music journalist for Signal To Noise Magazine, Paris Transatlantic, All About Jazz, Bagatellen and have written liner notes for jazz releases by Marion Brown, Patty Waters, James Spaulding and Ravish Momin. I completed an MS in Information Science from the University of Texas at Austin in December of 2007, and since that time have been a freelance art history research assistant and part-time reference librarian at Texas State University in San Marcos.
It all started at the Watson Library! The Slaters even came to my graduation party in May 2000!
I worked at the Conservation Lab during my graduate studies in the Museum Studies program (2006-2008). I jumped for the opportunity to work at the Lab for one main reason: the experience and the added benefit of getting to list it on my resume. However, after just a few weeks I found an added benefit to working at the Lab: the people. The staff at KU libraries are an interesting bunch and those in the Conservation Lab are an eclectic group. I enjoyed the work in the Lab, but my coworkers really made the job entertaining. What I remember most about the Lab is that there was always music playing and when you walked into the lab, and you could always tell who was in there just by what type of music was playing. For example, if REM was playing you knew Whitney Baker was in the Lab, or if Michael Jackson was on you knew Adonia David was there rocking it out! When May 2008 arrived it was bittersweet; I was happy to be graduating, but very sad to have to leave the Lab. After leaving KU, I went on to work on contract with the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, then spent a short stint in Waco, Texas at the Texas Ranger Museum, and now I find myself at the Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center working as their Collections Registrar. My experiences in the Lab have been invaluable in every place I have ended up since. I have a good foundation about the preservation of paper and books and I have impeccable taste in music, a skill that was refined in the Lab.
I began working in Watson during the summer of 1964, at the end of my second year at KU. I worked under someone named Mr. (Bill?) Miller, I think, and my job was to supervise the transfer of the Library's holdings that were stored under the football stadium to Watson.
During my second year at Watson, the summer of 1965, I worked in Rare Books which was run by Sandy Mason. I learned a great deal about rare books and general bibliography while working there and have only happy memories of the work.
I do not recall when Spencer Library opened, but it must have been in 1967 or so when we began the move from the top floor of Watson to the new building. That move took a good while to conclude, although I have no clear memory of the specific time frame. We used the stack carts or bookmobiles, whatever they were called, and of course had to be especially careful as our cargos were very precious ones.
The last time I worked for the Library I cannot now be certain of; I am pretty sure I did not work during the summer of 1969 because I was too busy trying to get as much work done on my dissertation as I could before I was to move to Ames, IA, where I was to teach for the next thirty-one years in the English Dept. at Iowa State.
I have returned to work in Spencer several times in the last thirty years because it has such a good collection in eighteenth-century British periodicals, one of the key areas of my research. And although I believe all of the people at Spencer whom I worked with are, like myself, now retired, I am fully conscious of all that I owe to the place and its librarians.
I worked as a student assistant in what was then called the Undergraduate Library/Reserve Room of Watson Library for about 2 and a half years, from September 1962. In the summers I worked full-time in the Periodicals department next door. I attended KU from September 1961 until December 1964, finishing my requirements for my history major then.
I got started in all of this because I took Western Civilization in fall 1961 from Dr. Stuart Forth, then Associate Director for Public Services. He was such a dynamo that when I realized that I needed to work, I approached him for advice. He suggested working in the Library as student assistant. I started Library School at Rutgers the next January. I have my MLS and PhD from Rutgers in Library Service. I worked at Texas Southern University, Southwest Texas State University, Rutgers University Library School, the University of Alabama Library School, the Library and Information Science Program of St. John's University.
I currently am the Dean of University Libraries and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at St. John's. I have also served as CIO at St. John's. In the fall of 2009, I hope to return to full-time teaching. While teaching at Rutgers, one of my students was Bill Crowe. [Bill Crowe has most recently served as the Spencer Librarian, as well as the Dean of Libraries and Vice Chancellor for Information Services at KU. - ed.]
The time I spent at KU Libraries, which consistently made me laugh, smile, and maybe even learn something, sprung out of one question: ‘Say, were you the one that gave the presentation with all the SpongeBob jokes at my freshman orientation?’ Sure enough, Tami Albin was indeed the one who had interjected humor about everyone's favorite sponge to spice up an information security presentation. After talking more with Tami about KU Libraries and some job opportunities, it didn't take long for me to decide that there was no place I'd rather work.
Four years later, I can't imagine my college career without the Libraries. There's few places one could work, I think, that could offer a better experience. Tami Albin, Jill Becker, and the entire Libraries staff are some of the most fantastic people I've ever met, and every day at the Libraries was legitimately enjoyable and educational. My time working in Instructional Services served as the perfect complement to my education in preparing me for my career. The skills that I developed working with faculty, students, and library staff benefit me every day in the workplace, and I'm positive that my time at the Libraries helped make me a better student and ultimately a better job candidate. [Jono now works for Perceptive Software in Kansas City. - ed.]
"My job involved looking up the ISBNs in older books to find matches on the computer. I worked there during either the 1987-88 or 1988-89 school year (I can't remember which one). I was a KU student for two years before transfering to University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I then went to UNL's law school and moved to Los Angeles where I lived for 11 years with my husband. I practiced employment discrimination law for approximately 7 1/2 years before moving back to Nebraska. (We had kids and I decided to stop working to raise them.) I now take care of my three- and five-year-olds and do part-time freelance legal work from home."
I have worked for over 15 years in archives of Southeast Texas working in three different repositories. I have been employed by Lamar University's University Archives and Special Collections since 2009. Our amazing holdings include a collection of cookbooks, whose earliest volume dates to 1500 and includes landmarks in culinary history; and many collections on the Big Thicket, a heavily wooded area of East Texas which boasts amazing biodiversity. One of our landmark collections is the David Lewis Collection which provides Lamar the largest collection of images of fungi in the South. David dries the actual mushrooms and sends the specimens to the Field Museum in Chicago and the National Natural History Museum in Paris. This summer I traveled to Paris where I saw their mycology department and David's actual specimens! I utilize the great education I received at the University of Kansas every day in my work.
I was a student worker in Interlibrary Loan (ILL) from 2008 until I graduated in 2010. Before I started working there I really had no idea 1) what ILL was and 2) what I actually wanted to do after I graduated from KU. Brett (Rurode, Kevin’s supervisor) pretty much opened the door to being a librarian for me. She told me about graduate programs to get an MLS and really gave me a lot of helpful direction. In my last month or so at Watson I started working part-time as a page at Lawrence Public Library. The transition was seamless going from one library to the next, although I did miss everyone that I worked with at Watson.
After working in circulation at LPL for 8 months I switched departments to work in ILL. I've been here since then and I'm having a great time. I plan on starting my Master's in Library and Information Science next fall (2012) to continue my library experience. Watson definitely introduced me to a profession I really enjoy and I was able to build lasting relationships with many of my bosses and coworkers.
After I graduated from KU with a bachelor's degree in History, I worked in copy services at Watson Library as a graduate student from 1989 to 1991. It was a great job for a student--I worked Monday through Friday each morning removing change from copy machines at the branch libraries with other student workers. Once I completed my master's degree in historical administration and museum studies I moved to Austin, Texas, and began work at the State Preservation Board. This agency is responsible for the Texas Capitol, the Capitol Visitors Center, the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, their contents and grounds. As the Curator of the Capitol and Director of Visitors Services, I am responsible for the historical furnishings and decorative arts in the Capitol as well as the visitor experience here. With over one million visitors each year, we have a great opportunity to interpret our lone star statehouse for the public. Every day I am thankful for the education and experience I received while at KU. It really helped to prepare me for my job in Texas history.
Jessica worked as a student worker in the Spencer Research Library from 1993-1995 while an Art History major at KU. She received a Master of Architecture degree from UT Austin in 2001, and is now a licensed architect and project manager at KU’s DCM.
Zachary worked in Watson Library in the spring of 1995 on a research project to see if book ratings affected circulation while an English major at KU. He received a Master of Library and Information Science degree with a concentration in Information Science from UT Austin in 1997, and is now a computer software tester at UMB in KCMO.
From the Interlibrary Loan desk and Acquisitions unit to the special project team cataloging KU’s world-class History of Economics collection, my work at Watson Library (1978-1981) turned out to be an apt prelude to my career as an American diplomat. Now spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece, I have lived and worked overseas for the past several years, mainly in the Middle East and north Africa, after the 1987 stock market crash caused me to re-think an early career in finance. And then this winter I made a connection that took me home again as a KU Library alumna.
My mentor at KU Libraries was Ann Hagedorn – the free spirit who, I think, hired me for the History of Economics team because I wasn’t afraid of 19th century High German. At the time, I was working on my degree in French Language and Literature, and taking business courses. Our small team had offices in the old Spencer Hall, piled high with great books coming out of storage areas. I loved looking through the card catalog to see what we had on them, then reading through them to get them ready to go on-line.
When the project came to end, I bought a Greyhound bus ticket and travelled across the country, dropping in on another teammate, Dick Hacken, still at the Brigham Young University library. I thought seriously about going West, as so many Kansans do, but I found I really loved New York. Ann did, too, and after she moved to the city, we kept in touch as she transitioned from librarianship to journalism, and I went from Wall Street to diplomacy. Now a successful writer, Ann took a position at the New York University libraries, while I supplemented my early exposure to the Ohio College Library Consortium (OCLC) on-line catalog with an NYU computer science certificate that landed me a job on Wall Street in mortgage-backed securities and early forms of other derivatives.
When the stock market crashed in 1987, my Midwestern roots helped land me a job at the Farm Credit System’s Wall Street branch, which financed my master’s degree in comparative economics from the New School for Social Research. From there I moved to Washington and became an analyst at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study what went wrong. While living in Washington, I took the competitive nationwide Foreign Service examination, becoming a U.S. diplomat in 1993.
Recently, here in Athens, I had the privilege of introducing journalist and author Evelyn C. White, biographer of Alice Walker, at one of our Black History Month programs for Greek students. It turns out that Evelyn was in Ann’s class at the Columbia School of Journalism, and had bought the little red Volkswagen Beetle that Ann had used to move from Lawrence to New York, with my little brother Jeff as her cross-country driving partner! It all goes back to the KU Libraries.
I recently received the KU Libraries newsletter. I worked for the T.R. Smith Map Collection from 1998-2002 as a student assistant and as a temporary LA II from 2002-2003. I enjoyed my time there, especially the later years when I worked on larger projects, such as indexing Spanish topographic maps and creating temp records for the backlog.
Whenever I'm in Lawrence I go back to check out the library. I can't believe how much it has changed, as there is no more cage and what seems like twice the map cases as before. I often miss the job, and sometimes wish I worked there again, except at my current salary!
For the last 6 years I have been in various parts of Arkansas. I spent 2 years teaching general music in Blytheville, AR, 2 years as a graduate student at the University of Arkansas (I also worked in the library on campus, but it was not as large or cool as KU), and the last 2 years in Waldron, AR where I worked as a preschool teacher last year and am currently the choir director for the school district.
I hope all is well in the KU Libraries and please know that I am constantly bragging about the structure and size of the KU
Libraries. KU is lucky to have such a valuable resource available to the
students and faculty.
Music Education and Map Library assistant 1998-2003.
I worked at the Watson circulation desk, and in searches and recalls,in 1993-94, and somehow managed to avoid vampire attacks every night while turning off the lights in the stacks. I got my BA in English in 1995, an MA from the Shakespeare Institute in 1996, and a PhD in Renaissance literature from the University of Wisconsin in 2004. I taught at Ripon College for two years, and since 2006 I've been an assistant professor at the University of Nevada. I've also just located my first book, a study of seventeenth-century playwright Ben Jonson, in the KU online library catalog. It's PR2634 .M37 2008, if anyone is curious.
I worked at the Spencer Art Library in 1997 and 1998. I am now a full time permanent instructor at Haskell Indian Nations University and I have been here since 2000 full time. - Dr. Joni Murphy
Meredith Huff sent me a message about your story for Bibliophile. The message said recent grads from the past 3 or 4 years, but I thought I would tell you about my experience. I worked at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library from September 2008 to the end of July 2011 (I recently graduated in the Spring). Working at the Spencer Research Library helped fuel my interest in library science. I have decided that I would like to further my education and will be applying to earn a Masters degree in library science next year.
I worked in the preparations department in the fall 1963 term for about a month. I usually operated the copying machine but sometimes pasted pockets on the inside back covers of new books or retrieved new books that had been requested for priority processing.
I worked in the mathematics branch library in Strong Hall in the evenings of the 1963-64 school year. Wealthy Babcock supervised me. This was a good job because I could study between helping patrons. Also in the fall of 1963 a mathematics professor smuggled a book from the mathematics library for me to use. He left it to me to smuggle it back in when I was finished. Since I was the library staff on certain evenings, it was relatively easy for me to reshelve the book.
Today I teach mathematics at the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities, a program for 11th and 12th grade students operated by Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. I also chair the Mathematics and Computer Science Division of the School. I completed a doctorate in Mathematical Sciences at Clemson University in 1997.
Franklin Shobe, BA (Mathematics) 1964 and MBA 1977.
My name is Tisha McCoy and I worked at Watson Library during my undergraduate career (1996-2000). I just read the summer edition of the Bibliophile; thank you for producing such a great newsletter!
I can't recall the exact name of the department I worked for, but I recall it had something to do with receiveables because I worked with invoices a lot. I believe my supervisor's name was Muriel Cook; she was such a sweet lady and I really enjoyed working with her. I only worked for the library for a semester and remember being disappointed that I had to tell Ms. Cook that I would not be able to return for the following semester.
Even before I began working for the library, I remember that my first encounter with the library was intimidating. I came to KU as a first-generation college student from an inner-city school district (Kansas City, MO). When I finally received an assignment that required me to go to the library, I thought I would be fine. But I was shocked when I walked in. You see, all the books in my high school and community libraries were catalogued according to the Dewey Decimal System, so that's what I expected to find when I walked into Watson. When I realized there was a different catalog system, I turned around and walked right back out! Had I missed something? What was this "Library of Congress" catalog system? Somehow I mustered up the courage to return to the library; it could have been the looming deadline of the assignment that got be to go back. The staff at the reference desk were great! They miraculously demystified the Library of Congress catalog system for me and that's where it all began. The library became my refuge - whether I was doing research for a project or just needed to cat-nap on the 5th floor between classes, I felt right at home in the libary. I'm so grateful to the library staff that have a passion for what they do and enjoy watching students learn and grow.
After graduating from KU with a B.S. in Business Administration, I went on to work for Hershey Chocolate USA for two years before deciding to pursue my graduate studies in College Student Personnel Administration to prepare me for a career in higher education. I graduated from the University of Maryland-College Park with my Master of Arts degree and began a career at James Madison University. I am currently serving as the Acting Director of Orientation at James Madison University. Though I'm at a distance, I will forever be a Jayhawk at heart!
Hi, I worked in the Education Library and then the Undergraduate Library in 1962-64. Mary Royer (?) was the Education Librarian and I believe it was closed and then I transferred to Undergraduate in the lower level of Watson.
From working there and from Mrs. Royer, I acquired a real love for libraries and for the reference hunt for information. After graduating from K.U. with a B.S. in Education, I went straight to library school at Emporia State with the help of the Kansas Library Association and earned an M.S. in Librarianship in 1966 working full time during that time at the William Allen White Library on Emporia State campus. From there I had my first professional job at the University of Nebraska Libraries first as Order Assistant, then Order Librarian, then Undergraduate Librarian, and eventually Assistant Director for Public Services. Then I took a few years off to stay home with my two children,. During this time we moved back to our hometown of Marysville, KS. I was then employed as the Librarian at Valley Heights Jr/Sr High School in Blue Rapids, KS. I have been there over 25 years and still am thankful that I was sent to the library from the University job service for my first on-campus job. I was involved at Nebraska in automating the Order system and have been an active participant in the technology explosion of the 80s and 90s and of course the 00s. I am still in awe of the vast amount of information available for my students in our small school district.
So thanks, Watson Library, for giving me a career.
Dixie Breeding Talbot, '64
Bibliophile is published in print and online semi-annually by the University of Kansas Libraries for alumni, friends and benefactors. Printing is paid for with private contributions. Correspondence should be sent to email@example.com or mailed to:
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