In our new blog segment “Interview with a Librarian” we sat down with Anne Graf to get to know a little more about her. Anne Graf is the the First Year Experience Librarian and an Associate Professor. She is the librarian for English, Education, Health Care Administration, Sport Management, Women’s and Gender Studies, and government documents. She also teaches FYE and advise undeclared students.
1. Where did you graduate from college?
I grew up in Wisconsin and will always love the upper Midwest, even though I’ve lived in Texas for nine years now. When it was time for me to choose a college I wanted to stay within driving distance of home, so I went to Grinnell College, in central Iowa, where I got a BA in Religious Studies. For graduate school I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They’re really different kinds of schools—Grinnell is small, liberal arts, undergraduate, and Illinois is this big research university—but they each had things I wanted at the time. I also think that in both cases, the setting and geography was a deciding factor. Moving and going to school is a big deal at any age, and in each case the familiarity of that prairie/farmland landscape made me feel at home, despite the change.
2. What is your favorite part about working with students in the library?
If I had to pick just one, it’s that moment when a student is in my office, talking about their research or their questions, and just through having a conversation coming to the realization that they know more than they think they do, and feeling like the next steps in the process are becoming clearer. My other favorite part is helping students take advantage of the library’s resources. It’s kind of like playing matchmaker—finding the right book or article or database for the question or topic at hand.
3. What made you decide to become a librarian?
There are so many versions of this story, I feel like you could ask me tomorrow and I might answer differently. What you end up doing professionally is also the story of so many other choices and moments throughout life, you know? For now I’ll just say that I decided to become a librarian because I suspected it would allow me to do a lot of different things that I love, and fortunately I was right! Working in higher education, I’m always learning, and I love learning new things. And as an academic librarian I also get to teach, and I love teaching. In terms of the environment, I get to be around books and research and the process of searching for information, and I love that. And I get to work with people and help them accomplish goals that matter to them in a concrete way, and I love that, too.
4. What was the last book you read?
The last two books I read were Who Fears Death, by Nnedi Okorafor, and Long Quiet Highway, by Natalie Goldberg — very different books but I enjoyed both. I read pretty fast and like to read as much as possible in one sitting, which isn’t that practical when you work full-time and have a young child. So I often read when my son is napping on the weekend.
5. What did you want to be when you were a college student?
I really didn’t know. I had a short phase in the very beginning where I wanted to be a hospital chaplain, but after that faded I never really had a clear idea. I kept trying to figure it out and maybe I could have, if I had done different things or talked to different people, but I think mostly I just needed to live for a while outside a school context. I didn’t come to the idea of being a librarian until later in my twenties.
6. What resource or part of the library do you hope students use before they graduate?
I have to say, meeting with a librarian to talk about your project or research! Not just because we can be helpful and save you time on some of the research pieces, but because making that effort shows that you’re really taking ownership of your work and showing that you can seek help when needed. Those are important life skills that will always serve you, no matter what you’re doing or studying.
Need help with your research or project? Contact one of our subject librarians today!