Text by Aaron Welborn
Photographs by Mark Zupan
It’s a gorgeous April morning at Duke, and a tour group of high school students and their parents file through Perkins Library. “If you come to Duke,” their guide tells them, “the library is going to be your second home.”
Meanwhile, in the von der Heyden Pavilion, the line for coffee is starting to stack up during a break between morning classes.
Across town on East Campus, a sophomore history major is working in Lilly Library’s Multimedia Project Studio on a website for a class project.
And in an office in Smith Warehouse, Nancy Gibbs, Head of the Acquisitions Department, is testing a batch of Amazon Kindles that were just loaded with bestselling titles for library users to check out.
In this issue of the magazine, we wanted to capture a snapshot of the people, places, and everyday moments that comprise a typical day in one of the top research library systems in the country. The Duke University Libraries employ some 250 people full-time and around 200 part-time student workers and interns. Some serve on the front lines, others behind the scenes. But they all work together to meet the teaching and research needs of the entire Duke community, day in and day out.
University Librarian’s Office: Robert Byrd, Associate University Librarian for Collections and User Services (left), meets with Deborah Jakubs, Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs, to discuss a planning study for a proposed Research Commons area in Bostock Library.
Digital Production Center, Perkins Library: Digitization Specialist Alex Marsh (left) and Mike Adamo, Lead Digitization Production Developer, prepare to digitize an early Arabic manuscript from the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Once complete, high-resolution scans of the historical document will be available online.
Library Service Center: Daniel Walker, Library Assistant, uses a special lift to retrieve and shelve items at Duke’s high-density, off-site repository. Each of the facility’s massive shelves is three stories tall and almost a football field long. The air inside is kept at a constant 50 degrees Fahrenheit with 30 percent humidity, ideal conditions for preserving books and paper. At full capacity, the Library Service Center could accommodate nearly nine million volumes—more than all the materials in Duke’s ten libraries combined.
Lilly Library: Lee Sorensen (right), Librarian for Visual Studies and Dance, consults with a student on a research project.
Von der Heyden Pavilion: Students line up between classes to get their caffeine and sugar fix at Saladelia @ the Perk. Situated in the heart of campus, it is consistently one of the busiest and highest-grossing coffee shops in Durham. A popular study and hangout spot, it’s also known among Duke undergraduates as a place to see and be seen.
Facilities and Logistics Department, Perkins Library: David Burroughs, Material Control Supervisor, packs up interlibrary loan materials to be shipped to other libraries around the country where patrons have requested them. Every year, the Duke University Libraries borrow 27,000 items from other academic libraries and lend 23,000 from our own collections.
Smith Warehouse: Lynda Baptist (left), Head of Holdings Management, and Lois Schultz, Catalog Librarian for Monographic Resources, work their way through books and periodicals originally cataloged in the Dewey Decimal system that need to be updated and reclassified in the Library of Congress system. The reclassification of the Libraries’ holdings began in 2004. Of the several million volumes that had to be reclassified, only a few thousand remain, representing the most intricate and time-consuming items to catalog.
Multimedia Project Studio, Lilly Library: Students edit a video they made in the Multimedia Project Studio, or MPS. The MPS has two locations, one in Lilly Library and the newly opened West Campus location in the lower level of Bostock Library. Both labs feature high-end hardware and software for creating and editing graphics, web pages, audio, and video. As more faculty incorporate multimedia projects into their courses, the demand for graphic and video resources has dramatically increased.
Perkins Library Conference Room: Library staff line up for cake and refreshments at the Florence Blakely Awards Ceremony. The Blakely Award is the highest annual honor the Libraries confer to library staff. It is named for the late Florence Blakely, a 38-year Duke librarian who received national recognition for her outstanding service. This year’s Blakely Award recipient was Molly Bragg, Collection Move Coordinator in the Rubenstein Library. She was recognized for managing the complicated task of relocating 35,000 linear feet of rare books and archival materials to make way for the upcoming library renovation.
Rubenstein Library: Will Hansen, Assistant Curator of Collections in the Rubenstein Library, tries to hunt down the answer to a reference question in the papers of Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Samuelson. Samuelson’s papers are part of the Economists’ Papers Project at Duke, the largest collection of modern economists papers in the world. The collection offers a valuable resource to researchers in the history of economic thought.
International and Area Studies, Bostock Library: Jörg-Hendrik Sohst (left) and his wife Julia pose in the office of Western European Studies Librarian Heidi Madden (right). Sohst is a senior lecturer in the Duke in Berlin Program. He is also an avid book collector and frequently donates items he finds to the Duke University Libraries. Here he presents Madden with a rare and specially bound facsimile of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s doctoral dissertation (1771), written in the form the 56 theses which Goethe was required to defend in public.
The Link, Perkins Library: The Link is home to the main IT help desk for the university. Link staff field thousands of tech support requests every year covering a wide variety of computer questions and problems. Students and faculty can also check out multimedia equipment from the Link, including video cameras, iPads and iPods, webcams, and headsets.
Perkins Library Gallery: Meg Brown, Exhibits Librarian, installs a new exhibit in the Perkins Library Gallery. Every year, the Libraries mount over a dozen exhibits in the Perkins Gallery, the Rubenstein Library Photography Gallery, the Rare Book Room cases, the Student Wall in Perkins Library, and other locations. The exhibits program highlights library collections, showcases student and faculty work, and fosters conversation between the academic community and the general public.
Music Library: Old technology meets new. A student listens to a 1978 recording on vinyl and works on rhythm exercises on an iMac.
Perkins Library, Shelving Department: Shawn Elder, Stacks Maintenance Specialist, interfiles a box of microfiche. The Stacks Maintenance staff shelve and reshelve almost 5,000 items each week and keep library materials in order so that they’re easy for library users to find.
West Campus Quad: A school group stops in front of the Rubenstein Library during a campus tour. Hundreds of tours come through the main West Campus library complex every year.
Tarasoff Meeting Room, Perkins Library: Collections and User Services staff meet to review mockups for an upcoming redesign of the Duke University Libraries website. The new website will be launched in August 2013.
Server Closet, Perkins Library: Brad Williams (left), Head of Core Services, and Erick Larson, Senior System Administrator, check on the servers that power the Libraries’ rapidly expanding digital infrastructure.
Smith Warehouse, Rubenstein Library Technical Services: Paula Mangiafico, Senior Processing Archivist in Rubenstein Library Technical Services, photographs an eighteenth-century paper doll self-portrait by Hermanus van Kleef, a Dutchman who died in 1775 at the age of 104. The item was an unexpected find while Mangiafico was processing materials in the History of Medicine Collections. Such curious discoveries are one of the daily joys of being an archivist.
Outside Bostock Library: Graduate student workers Drew Monger (left) and Matthias Kimmel collect books from one of the bookdrops outside Perkins and Bostock Libraries. The Libraries employ around 200 student workers each year. From checking out books to scanning documents, troubleshooting computers, shelving journals, and answering patron questions, students assist in almost every aspect of the Libraries’ day-to-day operations.
Electrical Closet, Perkins Library: Desktop Support Analyst Paul Wilshire works on the Ethernet circuits that provide wired and wireless internet access throughout Perkins and Bostock Libraries.
Rubenstein Library: Workers set up scaffolding to remove a tapestry in the tower staircase of the Rubenstein Library. The tapestry is being removed in preparation for the upcoming library renovation. It has been on loan to the Libraries since 1986 from the Nasher Museum and will return to its proper home.
Services Desk, Perkins Library: Tzvetan Benov supervises the Perkins Library Service Desk in the evening. Library users check out more than 619,000 books and other items from the Libraries every year.
The Link: At night, Perkins and Bostock Libraries come alive. Students make use of white board walls in the Link as they work on end-of-the-semester projects and prepare for final exams.
Rubenstein Library, Outside Rare Book Room: Robert Autry, a licensed locksmith who works in the Facilities Management Key and Lock Shop, pauses to look at an exhibit on broadsides from the Rubenstein Library. Autry is in charge of keeping doors and locks in working order all over campus, including card readers, vault locks, file cabinets, building keys, and other secure access points throughout the Libraries.
Music Library: Music Librarian Laura Williams (right) and musicology Ph.D. candidate Samantha Arten examine a recently acquired facsimile of the Squarcialupi Codex (c. 1410), a lavishly illuminated manuscript of fourteenth-century Italian music.
Library Administration Office: Administrative Office Staff Assistant Lynell Wiggins (left) and Jameca Dupree, Financial Analyst in the Business Office, track recent travel and business expenses and keep an eye on the Libraries’ budget.
Verne and Tanya Roberts Conservation Lab: Tedd Anderson, Conservation Technician, builds a custom enclosure for a nineteenth-century patent model for a cigarette rolling machine. It’s just one example of the many kinds of non-book materials the Libraries collect. Over the last year, the Conservation Services Department has made or fitted some 8,500 custom enclosures for materials that had to be moved for the Rubenstein Library renovation.
Smith Warehouse: Yoriko Dixon, Order and Receipts Specialist for Japanese Language Materials, catalogs newly purchased Korean titles. Her computer is equipped with a special stylus and pad that allows her to write in Japanese or Korean script, which the computer can read.
Pearse Memorial Library, Duke Marine Lab, Beaufort, NC: Janil Miller, Librarian at the Duke Marine Lab, has just picked up some new books to put on reserve for a course on the biology and conservation of sea turtles. The course includes a field expedition to Puerto Rico to study the turtles in their natural habitat. The only Duke library with an ocean view, the Marine Lab Library primarily collects books, scholarly periodicals, and other resources focused on the marine environment.
Smith Warehouse: Shelia Webb, Accounting Invoice Specialist in Acquisitions, shows what $16 million in invoices looks like. That’s approximately how much the Libraries spend each year to purchase collection materials. The money comes from university-allocated funds, endowments, grants, and gifts.
The Link: The Link Media Wall features innovative multimedia projects by Duke students and faculty, like this one on gothic architecture.
Verne and Tanya Roberts Conservation Lab: Senior psychology major and work-study student Kaiti Dunlap builds custom enclosures for the Rubenstein Library’s fragile historical newspaper collection.
Perkins Library: Who says print is dead? Students take advantage of free printing in the Libraries through ePrint, a popular campus-wide service.
Von der Heyden Pavilion: Saladelia staff dish up coffee and tasty treats to an average 2,000 customers a day.
Outside Perkins and Bostock Libraries: And it all happens in the course of another beautiful day at Duke!
7 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of the Libraries”
Terrific photos of the staff!
Such wonderful and dedicated staff! Great to see so many faces.
Fantastic blog entry! You do realize this description of Duke Univ. Libraries will incite librarians, paraprofessionals, curators, and archivists everywhere to aspire to work there!
The photographs tell such a great story of all the terrific work that is done by the library staff! What a great idea and superbly done.
What wonderful pictures, depicting the vitality of the libraries and its staff. So many familiar faces–almost makes me want to unretire. Almost….
Great pictures of a fantastic vibrant library! And some faces I recognize! Hi!
Absolutely loved this piece. So much fun to browse through. Thanks for sharing.
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