Virigina Seneviratne is a pre-nursing student who utilizes the library for research, study, and relaxation. “The library also has most of the textbooks I need on reserve,” says Virginia, “so I don’t have to lug around the giant biology textbooks.” She uses the extensive print collection for research, and occasionally gets an assist from a knowledgeable librarian: “I love that if I’m having trouble finding something related to my topic, I can always ask a reference librarian,” she says.
Virginia regularly uses the book scanner and the library printers, and takes advantage of the third floor as a place to study and collaborate with her fellow students: “The library is a great place to meet up with friends for study sessions.” Her go-to study spots are the fourth floor, near the Dark Horse collection, and the 5th floor, near the medical books. “I spend my time at the library either studying or just taking a break from all the school madness. I like reading, so it’s always nice to go to a quiet corner and get some reading done.”
When she isn’t studying, doing research, or relaxing, Virginia works at the Millar Library circulation desk. She values the relaxed and flexible atmosphere of the library: “We have areas where we can chat and have study groups with friends. And other areas where you can enjoy some quiet time to yourself. It’s not your normal library where we have to be super quiet everywhere.”
Library Student Employees: Expanding Horizons Through Education
Senior Chelsea Hunter grew up in a small coastal town in Oregon. Moving to Portland and attending a university of 30,000 students was a big change for Chelsea, down to even the size of the library. “I was impressed with the size and amount of information. I come from Coos Bay, so I wasn’t used to this kind of library,” she recalls. While taking a Spanish class in high school, Chelsea became interested in the Mayan and Aztec cultures, thus sparking her interest in anthropology and studying how other cultures live.
Studying anthropology at PSU has helped her move from her small town roots to urban dweller to world traveler. As part of Chelsea’s International Senior Capstone, she spent a month studying in Ghana, West Africa. During the 3 ½ week trip, she and fellow students visited various historical sites and museums. Each student also conducted an independent research project. Her trip focused on the Ghanaian cocoa industry and how to find social, environmental, and economic sustainability. “Being an anthropology student has enriched my view of travel by allowing me increased perspective into the habits and customs of people different than me. It has allowed me insights into nuanced behaviors and occurrences that one experiences while abroad,” Chelsea explains.
When not traveling or in class, Chelsea works at the circulation desk in the library. She started as a freshman living on campus, so the close proximity to work was a plus. She also loves books, so working in an environment where she can be surrounded by them appealed to her. “Being at the library, I’ve found it very interesting to look at how people interact with each other and with information,” says the perpetual student of anthropology.
Following her upcoming graduation, Chelsea plans to take a year off and spend one month traveling to Thailand. She wants to continue her education by studying applied and environmental anthropology in graduate school. She wants to focus on working with people on natural resource use and how to manage resources, and she has also considered teaching. For now, Chelsea is focused on her final quarter of school and her remaining months working at the library. “Being at the library, I can work with information that helps broaden my knowledge. I’ve picked up a lot of random facts.”
Chelsea stands beside her favorite statue in the library, “Shrine of the Deep Woods” by Rebecca Sylvan.
Library Student Employees: Balancing the Student/Employee Life
At first glance, John Bartolomeo looks like your average student employee: when he’s not pursuing a master’s in music or playing classical guitar, you’ll find him somewhere on the third or fourth floors shelving books. What makes John’s experience as a library employee and PSU student different is the level of cutting back he has done in his personal life to pay for his college experience. John has not only gotten rid of his cell phone, he partakes in what he euphemistically calls “urban camping.” For more than a year, John has lived in his car or couch surfing at friends’ places.
In 2011, John started working at the library, not long after he began his time as a student at PSU. A Chicago native who attended college at Arizona State, John relocated to Portland for graduate school. He was immediately drawn to PSU’s campus and professors. “Nobody takes themselves too seriously here, but they are all serious,” says John.
As an undergraduate, the prolific student majored in Spanish literature, philosophy, and music. As he looks to the future, he plans to earn a PhD in music. “I’ve enjoyed learning about it. Now, I want to give back,” he explains of his career choice. Unfortunately, this means leaving the city he has grown fond of in order to attend a school with a PhD in music option. He would love to return to Portland someday.
When John started at PSU, he worked part-time at a bakery. Working the graveyard shift took its toll on the full-time student. Working at the library seemed like a natural fit since he had worked in ASU’s library as an undergrad and was “here all the time anyway.” When Rex Marshall, Circulation Coordinator, hired John, John thanked him by giving him seven bags of bagels.
John hasn’t always had an unconventional living situation. When he first moved to Portland, he rented a house, but the quality of it didn’t seem worth paying for. He lived with a friend next, but after the Occupy Portland movement swept the city, he felt inspired to try his hand at “occupying Portland.” While he misses having a bed, he doesn’t miss the anxiety that comes with paying rent. With support from his friends and an optimistic outlook, John makes the most of an unusual situation. Difficult financial situations are a reality for many PSU students. With help from donors, the University Library can support our own student employees’ educations and we can invest in their futures.
John sits at his favorite spot in the library, near the windows overlooking the famous copper beech tree.
Library Student Employees: Engaging the Community, at PSU and Beyond
Senior Ashley Ward started her time at PSU as an English major, but switched to Psychology after taking a class with Professor David Hall that got her “hooked” on psychology. Although she left her English major behind, she didn’t let go of her passion for books. Prior to working for the University Library, Ashley worked at a Borders bookstore. Switching to the Library two years ago was an easy and obvious transition for this self-proclaimed “book nerd.” Ashley looks fondly back at her first experience in the Library—her job interview. She remembers the friendly employees who even provided snacks at the interview.
Two years later, Ashley is one of the Library’s top student employees, earning the Library’s nomination for student employee of the year in 2012. She continues to work in Circulation as she finishes her Psychology degree. The Library looks forward to having her here for one more year before she graduates in 2013. Ashley feels the benefits of her work in the Library as it intertwines with her own career aspirations in the psychology field.
“Every day at the Library I have interactions with people—diverse people with diverse mindsets.”
--Ashley Ward, ‘13
Studying psychology teaches Ashley how to understand, interact with, and engage others. Working in the University Library gives her the opportunity to put her learning to good use.
Ashley Ward pulls a book from the shelves behind the circulation desk,
where she spends much of her time when not in class studying psychology.
Library Student Employees: Making a Difference at PSU, Impacting our World
In the last year, the Library has created a new security department and we continue to employ students trained in security best-practices to ensure our students can study safely.
Denise Austin is a current graduate student in the Criminal Justice program and works in our security department. In her internship at the Multnomah County Juvenile Court Councils, Denise works in the field helping families communicate effectively and prompts mediation to help youths find positive life experiences and stay out of the court system.
"I am invested in this campus. I care about this Library and I want students to be safe here."
-- Denise Austin ’10, ‘13
She works at the Library because we are flexible to her schedule and support her aspirations to make a difference in the lives of all the people she encounters in her internship. She has worked in many departments at the Library over the years, and her recent move to security is especially meaningful for her. She loves making a difference for all the students she sees walk through our doors. At the Library, we take pride in the fact that our students can feel safe because of exemplary students like Denise.
Library student employee Denise Austin studies in the newly
renovated 5th floor break room for students, faculty, and staff.