This is the second installment of UCSB Library’s new “Student Assistant Spotlight Series,” posts written by our student employees that highlight the types of projects they work on. Noelle Graham is a 4th year student studying Communication. She is currently working on a senior thesis that examines drug and alcohol addiction through the intersection of evolutionary biology and communication. When she graduates, she plans to take a gap year to teach English abroad and then go to law school.
Working at the Library Information Desk may not sound like the most intriguing job in the world (or even on campus), but there really is more to this job than just pointing people to the nearest bathroom. The Library is truly the heart of UCSB. It’s where people can do what they came to college to do: learn. Some UCSB students might pretend like they just came to college to party, but I think most of us are nerds at heart and have more fun color-coding lecture notes than we want to admit.
College is an exhilarating journey and there are plenty of ups-and-downs. We might join a few clubs, dye our hair a weird color, get our hearts broken, or find our life’s passion, but the one constant we can always count on is homework. At the Information Desk, it’s my job to help you be the best student possible, so that you can tackle your homework and get back to petting dogs on the Del Playa. Trying to find the one book you need in the sea of books at the Library might seem a little daunting, but consider me your co-captain. I have the compass and I’ll point you in the right direction.
As fun as it is for me to help people navigate the Library (and it really is!), I would be exaggerating if I said this job always has a direct connection to what I’m studying. I don’t come to work expecting to be able to link what I just learned in lecture to my two-minute conversation about Course Reserves. My research skills have benefitted greatly by having this job, but I have also learned many other skills that aren’t necessarily academic. It might not make a great soundbite, but I’ve learned what a W-2 form is and how to use a copy machine and how the Library of Congress call number system works. Maybe everyone learns how to use a copy machine at their first job, but I’m grateful that I was able to learn in such a welcoming and non-judgmental work environment.
Many people come to the Information Desk and preface their question by saying, “This might be a dumb question…” but there really are no dumb questions. Even if you feel awkward asking how to use a copy machine, and even if everyone else in the world knows how to use a copy machine, that question is still going to help you make a copy. In this way, a question is just the price of admission to wherever you’re headed. Perhaps that’s the most important lesson I’ve learned from working at the Information Desk. Just because a question doesn’t sound intelligent or a book doesn’t sound interesting or a job doesn’t sound sexy, it might be just what you need.