A Novel Idea: Why Sam Myers Works As a Bibliographic Services Student Specialist

Sam Meyers, a Freshman at Bates College, has been working as a Bibliographic Services Student Specialist since the beginning of Winter semester. Sam learned about the position by perusing the list of on-campus jobs at the Student Employment Office website. “I applied for the job last semester, but by the time I sent in my application the position had already been filled by another student. Then, just before winter break, I received an e-mail informing me that the student who held the position was going abroad for second semester. They offered me the job, and I took it.”

Working as a Bibliographic Specialist appealed to Sam because it involves quiet, independent work. Sam appreciates the “level of autonomy and variety” of his job and believes that both of those qualities are very important in a job. Applying for the job was just a quick electronic application form on the SEO website. “I had to answer a few simple questions about my past work experience,” Sam remembers, “I was also asked to list my innumerable skills and abilities, which took a while.”

Sam works as a Bibliographic Services Student Specialist for six hours a week,in the central office area of the George and Helen Library, where Sam greets Carol, his supervisor “with a warm smile and a requisite exchange of pleasantries, and then I get right down to business” after, of course, grabbing one of the “ubiquitous homemade baked goods floating around the library offices.” Generally, Sam begins his day by sorting the library’s mail. “Once the mail is sorted, I sometimes turn to the unpacking and organizing of newly-arrived books, a task which entails removing new books from their boxes, checking the books against an invoice, and placing any necessary ‘flags’ in the books before they are shelved, which are placed when someone (usually a professor) wishes to be notified of the arrival of a certain book.” Sam’s primary job, however, is labeling books with call numbers.

Sam believes the most interesting aspect of the job is being able to see the hundreds and hundreds of books that flow into the Ladd Library. Although Sam concedes that the majority of the books that pass through his hands are of little interest to him, he has come across some real gems. “Sometimes the books are really unique and beautiful. I’ve seen a book of poetry dedicated to subatomic particles. Usually I’m just impressed at the ridiculous esotericism and specificity of the scholarly books that come into the library. There are, like, three hundred-page books about the use of egg-themed symbolism in eighteenth-century Welsh poetry.”

Working as a Bibliographic Service Specialist has helped Sam become more efficient, organized, and quite a deal neater, which Sam believes are “skills that are certainly applicable to a wide variety of careers.” As a prospective English major with an interest in being a writer or a teacher, Sam thinks that the opportunity to familiarize himself with the inner workings of an academic library is extremely valuable. “I have had to teach other student employees the ways of the library, and that is relevant to my potential future career as a teacher.

For Sam, working behind the scenes of the library has shed light on the fact that the library is an absolutely massive operation which takes a substantial amount of work to run effectively. “ I’ve learned that I definitely take a lot for granted when I check out a book from the library. So much work goes into each and every book.” But to Sam, all this work is worth the end result: “The library acts as a crossroads of sorts; it’s a place where students from all over campus come together with the common goal of seeking knowledge. I think that’s pretty amazing.”