In each issue of this newsletter, we profile a staff member who works in the library or other related department. This issue features Janine McDonald, Circulation Services Specialist, whose voice you may have heard in the evenings as the library closes down.
What type of work does your job entail?
As a supervisor at the Borrowing desk, I help patrons find books, DVDs, reference materials – you name it! I consider the library to be a genuine nerve center on campus; it is alive and stimulating. I enjoy being surrounded by the intellectual and cultural lifeblood of Middlebury College: the best novels, memoirs, books on cooking, gardening, philosophy, psychology, music, films (for which I have a real passion). You want it? We’ve got it! It’s all here.
What did you do prior to working at Middlebury College and where were you located?
I’ve lived on both the West and East coasts. My first job out of college, my B.A. in Broadcast Journalism in hand, was at CBS in Los Angeles. It was my introduction to the curious world of the entertainment industry. I went on to work at a television production company, then worked as an assistant editor at NBC. Later I segued into freelance and legal writing.
What do you like best about working at Midd?
What I like most is how dynamic – and beautiful – it is. One can attend virtually any type of cultural event you can dream of: plays, exhibitions, concerts, lectures, and symposiums. And it’s exciting to be amidst the creative forces which live on in the stacks, through their art. I like to think we, as custodians of art in a way, help keep these artists alive by reading, discussing, admiring and becoming inspired by these literary giants.
I also love my schedule! Since I am a “night owl,” I work during the evenings, when the library takes on a different energy. It is a great study space, and there are features that help students make the most of their time here; viewing rooms, “smart labs”, research assistance, the Wilson café, a new meditation space on the upper level, a walk-in help desk and the Wilson media lab. It can be lively at night or quiet, depending on the time of year. Closer to the end of the year, and again in the Spring, with exams looming, students are in high gear. And there are plenty of evenings in the library with surprises for study breaks: Midd cupcakes in the lobby; coffee, tea and cookies from the dining department; even the Frisbee team makes an appearance!
If you could give one piece of advice to a new employee at Middlebury, what would it be?
Do your best, and count yourself as one of the fortunate ones, since you can benefit immensely in an academic environment. Just look around you. Keep cool and avoid stress. We often say at the Circ Desk that we are not an emergency room. It will work out fine! Enjoy your job!
What are your hopes/dreams/plans for the next few years at Middlebury?
I would love to take courses at the Bread Loaf School of English one summer, simply for the pure joy of learning! Re-discovering old favorite books at the library reminds me of my undergraduate days as a literature minor. Some of my favorite teachers were so riveting, I never wanted the class to end; there’s a lot to be said for getting lost in the wonder of learning. I would also like to see my Los Angeles friends get a summer acting gig up the hill at Bread Loaf! Also, I am looking forward to more travel in my crystal ball!
Is there any person on campus (or retiree, former employer) that mentored you, or you feel helped you grow into your job?
My earliest positions on campus were in the CFA (which I absolutely loved) and then I moved to the Career Center, where two of my fellow staff members made huge impressions on me: Don Kjelleren and Stephen Kiel. They had an unwavering and upbeat attitude each and every day. I will never forget their positive approach to work.
Do you have a favorite place on campus or in town? Where is it?
One of my very favorite spots on campus is the organic garden. In summer I will walk over to see how everything blooms and grows. It is a peaceful space in a gorgeous setting. The observatory is also a special spot on clear nights.
What are the most significant things happening in your life outside of work now (that you’d like to share)?
I am presently working on my 169-year old house. It is a good feeling to know that one can live in a building that has been here for that long. There is a lot of work in it, but I appreciate the old ways and how things were built. I would love to someday write a book on the historic cottages and small homes of Vermont.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about your time at Middlebury?
When I started working here ten years ago, I remember walking on campus in the autumn with one of our HR reps, and she commented how she never took for granted the beauty in which we are surrounded. I looked around, and I knew what she meant. I have had a special fondness for Vermont since visiting while in high school. And I remain in that state of awe. I feel so fortunate, living here, with a job I truly enjoy, with people I admire.