Meet Lilly’s Class of 2019-20: Toni

Meet a Vital Library Resource

Woman with miniature horse
Toni with Kiwi at Lilly’s Stampede of Love December 2019

Lilly Library is at the heart of East Campus, the First-Year Campus for Duke Undergraduates. To serve our community, during what used to be a normal semester, Lilly remains open for 129 hours each week, and 24/7 during reading period and final exams each semester.

Our student assistants are an essential element in maintaining a high level of service, and we want to introduce you to one of our Lilly alumni, Toni – a  December 2019 graduate who worked in Lilly Library throughout her Duke career.

If you’ve been in Lilly Library over the past four years, chances are you’ve seen all of this year’s seniors: Toni, Jessica, Sarah, Esha,  and Noelle. Toni is one of our seniors who worked at Lilly Library since she arrived as wide-eyed First-Year student on East Campus way back in August of 2016. Toni graduated last December, but is an honorary member of this year’s Lilly class.

Take this opportunity to acquaint yourselves with Toni, one of our treasured Lilly seniors of this past academic year, albeit, technically, a treasured alumna of the Lilly Library Class of 2019!

Senior Toniya aka “Toni”

Tall stack of books on desk with woman
A tower of books is no match for Toni
  • Hometown: I moved a lot growing up because my dad is in the Army, but we currently live in Washington D.C.
  • Family/siblings/pets:
    My mom, my dad, my three siblings, and a very sassy chihuahua
  • Academic major: Psychology
  • Activities on campus: The Center for Race Relations, researcher in the Duke Hospital Psychiatric Department, Camp Kesem Counselor, Residential Assistant
  • Favorite on-campus activity (besides working at Lilly): Hanging out with my friends late at night in the Bryan Center
  • Favorite off-campus activity: Volunteering for the organization “A Helping Hand” (check them out online!)
  • Favorite campus eatery: Il Forno
  • Favorite off-campus eatery: Dames Chicken and Waffles

Q: If you could have a sleepover anywhere in the libraries, where would you choose, and why?
A: Probably the Lilly staff lounge! It’s so cozy down there and we might find yummy leftovers.
Q: What’s the strangest/most interesting book or movie you’ve come across in Lilly?
A: There was a book called The Aesthetics of Ugliness that I remember seeing my first year.
Q: What is your favorite part about working at Lilly? Least favorite?
A: My favorite part is definitely the people there. The staff and patrons have all been such warm, genuinely caring, fascinating individuals. This has led to many amazing spontaneous conversations! My least favorite part about working at Lilly is probably finding shift coverage during a shift at a busy hour (evenings on a weekday, late night on a weekend, etc.)
Q: Why have you worked at Lilly Library ever since your first year?
A: The staff has been so kind to me and coming back every year has been the only consistent part my Duke experience year after year. Going into a space where people know your name and have seen you mature has been so comforting. In addition, Yunyi is probably the best supervisor and mentor ever!
Q: What is one memory from Lilly that you will never forget?
A: One time a student came in at 2 am on the day of spring LDOC. His eyes were very red and he seemed dazed (I won’t speculate as to why) and he walked up to the desk and stared at me for a solid two minutes while I repeated “Can I help you? Sir? Do you need assistance finding materials?…. Sir?”. FINALLY, he asked me “Do you have any books about…. Physics?” I told him we had physics textbooks and asked if he wanted a book to read for class or as leisure reading. His response was “it’s for fun…. Thank you” then he promptly walked out the door before I could respond.
Q: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done in Lilly?
A: One time during a reading period over-night shift, I texted this guy I liked at the time to come and keep me company behind the desk for a bit (DEFINITELY against the rules, but the things we do for love. Am I right?). He came over to Lilly at about 1:30 am and he stayed and talked to me until I forced him to go to bed around 7:45am (so basically the whole shift). It was very sweet, wholesome, but also super risky given one of the librarians could have came in early and saw him!
Q: What was closing Lilly late at night like? Eerily empty, people reluctant to leave, unexpected people?
A: I won’t change my answer now to my least favorite part of working at Lilly, but clearing people out at 4 a.m. was the WORST. People get so testy when you ask them to leave or remind them of closing soon. I’m always so grateful Lonny (the night shift guard, I heart you Lonny!) is usually willing to round up stragglers. Also, one of my most niche fears was that someone secretly lives in the basement of Lilly and they were going to pop up somewhere unexpectedly in the dark, eerie, basement at 4 am and attack me. I think if someone (or thing) lives down there, they’re too scared of Lonny to show their face.
Q: How will your time at Lilly help you in your future pursuits?
A: I created an online library catalog system at a non-profit I interned at a couple summers ago which kind of kick started me using the skills I’ve picked up here in all of my other jobs. I’ve learned how to talk to literally anyone and learn how to operate computer systems and data systems swiftly which will help me in whatever else I find myself doing later on in life!
Q: What will you miss most about Lilly when you graduate?
A: Definitely the staff and the way feeling of security I felt working there. I had been performing the same tasks for four years and it’s nice to be able to zone out doing something familiar.
Q: What are your plans for after graduation?
A: I will be completing a pre-medical post baccalaureate program at Bryn Mawr College in the fall before applying to medical school next year!
Q: What is your spirit animal? … well, you don’t expect all the questions to be about Lilly, did you?
A: A panda because I’m usually very mellow and unassuming. But I could actually bite your head off if I wanted to.

Graduation in December meant Lilly Library had to say farewell to Toni as an employee, but we treasure her as a member of our Lilly forever “family”. We appreciate her stellar work and dedication to Lilly and wish her all the best!

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