“Earning While They’re Learning” is an occasional series of stories celebrating our library student workers. The Duke University Libraries employ more than 250 undergraduates and graduate students every year, making us one of the largest student employers on campus.
Everyone’s got their “spot” on campus. It’s that place where you can step back from school work and daily stresses and find your zone. For Gauri Prasad, a senior majoring in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering, that place is Lilly Library.
Since freshman year, Gauri has been a service desk assistant in Lilly. A typical night owl, you can usually find her working the latest of late-night shifts. She’s been specifically trained to close Lilly down, which means staying up until midnight on weekends and 4 a.m. every other night of the week.
Gauri doesn’t mind these late hours though, and has made some of her favorite memories alongside the rest of the closing shift staff.
“My favorite experiences at Lilly so far,” she remembered, “have come from working with the security guard, Lonnie Williams. He is one of the nicest people and was always ordering us pizza, sharing popcorn, or asking me for my “expert” engineering help in fixing his computer or phone.”
“I love Lilly because I love the people.” Gauri said. Whether she is sharing snacks and conversation with Lonny, helping students check out a DVD on Saturday nights, or interacting with faculty, Gauri enjoys being able to help people through positive social interactions.
It goes both ways, too. While she is manning the desk and supporting library patrons, she feels equally supported by her supervisors behind the scenes. For the past four years, she’s loved knowing that come Halloween and Valentine’s Day they will be there with a bag of candy or other treats.
“The entire staff is great: supportive, sweet, and thoughtful. They go above and beyond to try to make my experience better.”
Even off the clock, she feels most comfortable in Lilly. She loves hanging out in the lobby area, taking in the background noise, and studying in a space she knows so well and where everyone knows her well, too.
Reflecting at the end of our interview, she laughed a bit and said, “I think Lilly is the one place where I don’t just interact with engineers.”
For Gauri, Lilly is more than just her workplace. It’s home base.
About this Series: Students like Gauri are an indispensable part of our library workforce. Their employment provides Duke students with valuable financial aid to support their education, and they learn useful skills that enhance their academic studies and careers after college. This year, to encourage senior giving to the Libraries, George Grody (Associate Professor of Markets and Management Studies) has set up the Grody Senior Challenge. Every gift made by the Class of 2018 to the Libraries Annual Fund will be matched by Professor Grody. All funds will directly support library student workers who provide research and instructional help.