Dear friends, I know that several words come to mind when you hear Walk-O-Rama and when you recall the many adventures chronicled on this site. Heroic, fearless, fun-loving. All true. Lazy is another. There, I said it. Adventures were often thwarted by heat, cold, humidity, precipitation, and the promise of delicious food. Even now, I sit here writing to you not of a walk in the physical sense, because that sounds exhausting, but of a mental stroll just taken down memory lane where I recalled my many great years with the wonderful staff at Stony Brook University Libraries.
I began after earning my Master’s degree in 2005 and was happy to have my first full-time job. My search committee assured me that I was not hired because I currently worked selling chocolate in a retail store and could potentially double as their supplier – or perhaps they indicated that that was the sole reason, I forget. To be on the safe side, I brought in a generous assortment when I started to try and win favor with my new friends.
My first weeks were a little rough. I recall catching a student employee error in the Stacks, which angered her and caused her to leave. I felt guilty and thought for sure the other workers in Circulation would all hate me. Fortunately, I was quickly adopted by The Library Club, a group started and led by the very talented and creative Victor Santiago. This club really helped me develop as a person and a professional in so many ways, and it is my hope that I helped others do the same as one of the advisors. We did our best to share our love of libraries and information literacy by creating tutorials, educational events, blogs, web reviews, etc. and began a fundraising effort to send books to Africa. We took library students on field trips, including two ventures to Salem, MA where we held some pretty exciting scavenger hunts. They were good times.
When I think of my time in Circulation, I remember the wonderful, wonderful people, and the terrific Halloween parties! I don’t mean to group these two together because they are equivalents – the people were definitely better – but both are such vivid symbols in my mind of my days in the Main Stacks. It was great having a close-knit family environment to help me as I eased into my profession. I don’t recall all of what I did those first few years, but all timesheets and paperwork seem to indicate that I was in fact present and actively doing something or other.
Gradually I began to learn more and take on additional responsibilities. I became a volunteer member of the virtual chat team and a selector for the Cinema Studies Department. I made Reader’s Advisory signs to try and get people to read our dusty books. I worked closely with our students, checking their accuracy, creating assignments, and introducing them to some pretty high-brow American experiences during our free time. When I felt I could do no more, I moved to a new role in the Central Reading Room.
During these next years, I worked more actively with the public and saw ways that I could create events to simultaneously entertain and educate our patrons. I created a few scavenger hunt with the help of some awesome colleagues, worked with the incredibly talented Arielle Hessler (and others) to create some library-themed board games that I think someone once played, and introduced other activities such as button making, Pi-Day, Banned Book Month contests, e-games, and more.
It is also during this time that I became active in Walk-O-Rama, thanks to Richie Feinberg (who began the group) and Celeste Hessler, who asked me to continue the activity after his retirement. These walks, as you may or may not have read in past entries, helped us all regain a small sense of childlike wonder as we left the comforts of our desks and began to bravely explore the campus grounds each week, searching for humor and meaning in all we saw. We found the remnants of an ancient feline civilization, tried our best (unsuccessfully) to make sense of the hospital floor plan, learned Ken is secretly an all-star baseball player, photobombed the President, and even buried our own time capsule somewhere we’ve long forgotten. And we ate. Mostly we ate. But it’s all good, because walking, talking, and breaking bread together is what creates bonds and keeps people happy as a team! I will always have a special place in my heart for Team Walk-O-Rama!
I did other things I never dreamed I would do as a professional, or in any other capacity for that matter. I helped make several boats out of carboard and duct tape for the annual Roth Regatta and helped row two. To our surprise, none of them sank, and we even earned a trophy for coming in second place in the Speedster division during our first attempt. Go us! Staff all came out and cheered us on, and for days following I received small gifts and cards like a real hero who had done something wonderful. As someone who does not usually do things, I can tell you that it meant a lot in my little world to feel this way.
I have learned so much in my time here, both about myself and about my profession, and I have had the pleasure of meeting so many kind, creative, talented people who have made such a difference in my life, whether they realize it or not. Walk-O-Rama may be ended in some sense, but the energy that started it still remains. I hope you all will not forget to devote parts of your day, or even just your week to doing something that is brave – even if only brave for you at your level, something silly, something adventurous, but mostly something fun. And take a friend – or several friends. Or drag someone you don’t particularly care for and force them to be your friend, because being adventurous together is awesome, and I have enjoyed my awesome adventure with you.