Staff Reflections

March 24th, 2010

Steenbock Library will soon celebrate the career of one of its own–Robert (Bob). In light of that celebration, Bob was asked a few questions regarding his experience, here, to which he has replied below. We, at the library–friends and colleagues–wish him many, enjoyable adventures in retirement.

How long have you been with Steenbock Library?
I came in October 1982, so not quite 28 years ago. I was so thrilled to become a librarian in the big university after working in a small college (Cornell College). UW Madison has never let me down for a thrilling environment.

What has been your most memorable experience?
In 1992 I received “Librarian of the Year” [award] because of my work in networking databases to workstations in libraries across campus. Since then, librarians all over campus have participated in bringing our libraries to the desktops (and laptops) of students and faculty.

What have you found to be the most satisfying part of your work?
One thing that brought me here was the opportunity to develop teaching methods for library skills. In the 1970s this was an emerging area for improving the way libraries work for our customers. Now, every year we teach thousands of undergraduates and graduate students those library skills. The “teachable moment” resulting in an “I get it!” response from a student (or faculty member) is very moving to me. I love new technology; our libraries are constantly innovating: always new toys to play with.

How has your work changed during the years you have been with Steenbock Library?
‘Evolving constantly’ is a phrase describing library work. This is the secret of the library, we just never get bored with so much to learn, so many new things to master. The other answer is my work is exactly the same…make the collections of amazing value work for scholars who need more information.

What advice would you like to share with students and staff?
Our campus has librarians of great skill, who are very dedicated to service. For every student and faculty member there is a librarian who knows just what you need for your research. Learn who he or she is, ask for help, acquire the new skills librarians can provide.

What are your plans for the future?
Some things I’ve been attracted to over the years, but have not had the time to master, learning passable Spanish, improving my music skills. Also, at the instructions of my spouse, getting out of the house for at least two hours every day. Perhaps my dog will enjoy the walks?

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