Lilly Library’s “Final Four” – Our Class of 2015 – Part II
Lilly Library is fortunate to have a “strong senior line-up”, and Steven is an experienced point man on our team. Along with Natalie, Victor and Kenai, Steven is a member of our class of 2015. All of our seniors have worked at Lilly Library since they arrived as wide-eyed First-Year students on East Campus “way back” in August of 2011! Get to know our seniors in these profiles, and you’ll appreciate them as much we do.
• Hometown—Roslyn Heights, New York
• Academics—Double Major in Political Science, with a concentration in International Relations, and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, with a concentration in Arabic
• Activities on campus—Member of Duke Students for Justice in Palestine, Alpha Epsilon Pi.
• Favorite campus eatery/food—It’s gotta be The Loop. Not only is the food there top notch (my favorite little secret on the menu—the mac n cheese bites), but there’s no other place with a person like Javon heading the counter. I will always think of walking into The Loop to see Javon smiling, always greeting you with a “Sup, bossman!” He’s the most popular guy on campus for a good reason.
• Favorite off-campus eatery/food—So difficult to say with all the fantastic places Durham has for food. I honestly can’t choose one. Some of my favorite spots, though: Cookout, Chubby’s, Bull City Burger, Monuts was a recent one that is fantastic… the city certainly doesn’t lack for satisfying my every taste urge!
• Hobbies, Dream vacations—In my spare time, I love to play an Afro-Peruvian drum called the cajon. I love listening to music in general, along with reading and writing. I hope to travel the rest of my life. I want to see every corner of the globe and experience as many different things as possible. I want to pursue writing to the fullest. I wish to pursue immersive journalism and look at human rights and the human element in approaching some of the most dehumanized conflicts or situations in the world. I dream of just always be traveling around, a nomad moving through the cities and places of the world. My ultimate dream is to write novels and stories for a living.
Q: Why have you worked at Lilly Library for all 4 years?
A: I have absolutely enjoyed my time working at Lilly. It truly feels like home to me at this point. All the people I met, the wonderful time I had with the staff. All the librarians are so friendly and kind; they have breathed warmth to me. Everyone is like a family at Lilly, while other places run more like a machine. I like the atmosphere, and the crazy people… I always knew it was where I’d enjoy my job the most. What’s nicest about working at Lilly is how egalitarian it truly feels to be a part of the staff. For example, and I mean this as the greatest compliment in the world, I didn’t even realize until this year that Kelley is the head of Lilly Library. She is such a fantastic leader and treats everyone so kindly that I didn’t even know she was “above” anyone from a position status. She (and everyone else really) fosters an incredible work environment.
Q: What is your favorite part about working at Lilly? Least favorite?
A: My favorite part has to be the characters you meet. There are some interesting patrons and people who work at Lilly. The Lilly staff is composed of some of the kindest, coolest, intelligent, and interesting people. Whether it’s having librarians play their guitar outside on the Lilly steps, discussing esoteric books and films, or listening to the craziness of people like Danette, it’s been an absolute blast.
My least favorite part about working at Lilly has to be when someone comes in with a year’s supply of books to check in. There’s always one week in mid-April just after everyone’s finished their dissertations, so they all come in like an avalanche!
Q: What is your favorite duty at Lilly? Least favorite?
A: I actually like delivering books at this point. It’s always nice to put on my headphones, groove to some music, and get paid to unknowingly memorize the entire faculty for all the departments on East Campus. It’s good to get some fresh air and switch things up a bit. Least favorite work duty—anything that I have to do that is meticulous. So shelf-reading is probably up there, as I certainly hate the world a little bit on those occasions when you reach a section and ALL the books are COMPLETELY out of order.
Q: What is one memory from Lilly that you will never forget?
A: Tough one. Maybe it has to be when I was going upstairs through the stacks to shelve some books. I noticed a guy just doing some work on a desk. As I was going back down, I noticed the same guy, still doing work—only he had taken off all of his clothes except his underwear! The next minute, some of his friends came by, just casually talking to him as he was nearly naked. Totally epitomizes the weird and bizarre things you encounter at Lilly.
Q: What does a typical weekend shift look like for you? Which shift do you like most, and why?
A: It has to be the Saturday night shift I share with my fellow senior and partner in crime, Victor. We’ve had the shift together forever. It feels a little great to have the library to ourselves. We’ve definitely shared a shenanigan or two in our time together, and the evening shift is so slow it’s just great to kick it back with Victor and discuss topics like music, film, politics, philosophy, etc. We’ve had some great times, and to have Kenai come in afterwards makes us seniors feel like Saturday night is our night.
Q: What is the funniest thing that happened to you recently?
A: In terms of Lilly, while I still always share laughs with the librarians and my fellow workers, I’m not having as many comedic moments without Danette around this semester. Anything that woman says is hilarious. I had way too many funny moments with her!
Q: What is your impression of Lilly film collection? Any recommendations?
A: It’s pretty cool when a patron comes in, asks about what movies we have, and I can say, “We have essentially any movie you can imagine.” Because it is true—I think there have been maybe two or three times in my four years at Duke when we didn’t have a movie a patron wanted. I’ve picked up some movie knowledge along the way just from seeing some of the films people check out. Of course, the expertise of all the librarians certainly helps a bit in that department.
If there’d be one suggestion I have, however—all the anime DVDs have to be brought back upstairs from the locked media! I’ve never understood how some of the most highly acclaimed anime films have been relegated downstairs to the locked media.
Q: What are your plans for after graduation?
A: I have applied for a grant to pursue a journalism project this summer in Palestine and Israel. I hope to gather as many accounts in the region as I can and interweave the stories to create a narrative in what I envision to end as a book. Afterwards, I’m currently thinking to get a certificate to teach English overseas. I hope to pursue immersive journalism abroad, with the plan over the next few years to be in the Middle East. I’m currently considering, after my project in Palestine and Israel, to move to Cairo.
Q: What will you miss most about Lilly?
A: Again, it has to be the people. Everyone has always made me feel so comfortable, so welcomed, and I have learned so much from the wonderful librarians and have experienced so much with them as well as with my fellow seniors.
Q: How will your time at Lilly help you in your future pursuits?
A: It has helped me learn how to be adaptable and work with all types of people. Patrons come in many shapes and sizes, and it is always necessary to be able to keep a smile on and make sure that everyone is satisfied. While most patrons are fantastic, there’s always the occasional person who walks in that is a little bit more difficult, and it has been important for me to learn to always work with a patron—no matter how much of a hard time they give you.
Q: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done in Lilly? Any advice to other students working at Lilly?
A: Well, I wouldn’t say I’d suggest any of the crazy things I’ve done at Lilly to other student workers. But one story I’ll share was when I unknowingly stayed inside Lilly after it closed. I was in the staff lounge working all night on a paper for class, and I didn’t even realize that it was after 4 AM, and I found myself locked inside Lilly by myself! Needless to say, a man from the custodial staff was a little surprised to find me in the lounge all by myself at 5 AM. I hadn’t even known that there were sensors all over the library, and I am still so thankful that I didn’t set them off so that police came. What an ordeal that would have been
Q: Anything else?
A: After being able to help one of the freshman workers the other day to get the electronic stacks downstairs working (tip* : all you have to do when they’re not working is to bang your feet on the metal bars coming out from the floor and slide in and out of the stacks—it will eventually start working again), I realized that I am way too good at this job now, and either it is time for me to graduate, or for Yunyi to employ me full-time.
Graduation in May means Lilly Library will say farewell to Steven and our other seniors, treasured members of our Lilly “family”. We appreciate his good work and dedication to Lilly and wish him the best!
*However, we can’t say we endorse his tip about “fixing” our compact shelving!