In this post we recognize Arabella Holzapfel, Electronic Resources Manager and Library Systems Specialist, for her 25 years of Service to Middlebury. Arabella shares some recent travel experiences, her favorite hobbies, and some of her fondest Middlebury memories. Read on to learn more about Midd from Arabella’s point of view.
What did you do prior to work at Middlebury College and where were you located?
This could be a very long story. Immediately prior, I was the Children’s Librarian at the Bixby Library in Vergennes. Before that, I was a graduate teaching/research assistant at UVM in the Physics Department. Before that, I was a process engineer at a (now defunct) semiconductor manufacturer in Arizona. Between and among and prior to those times, I worked in retail, volunteered at animal hospitals, did research in astronomy and various other things during my first 25 years of life in Denver and elsewhere in Colorado, and the following 5 years in Arizona. (Perhaps that’s more than you want to know.)
What job titles have you held while working at Middlebury?
They have all been in the Libraries: I started as a part-time Science Library Assistant at the Science Library in the Science Center that used to exist at the same geographic location as the current Davis Family Library. Following that, I was a Catalog Associate at Starr Library, then a student supervisor at Armstrong Library, then the Periodicals Assistant back at Starr. My position now as Electronic Resources Manager is basically an evolution from Periodicals Assistant, as the library world has changed and as Middlebury’s library staffing has changed.
Take us back to your first year as an employee at the College. What were the most significant things happening in your life outside of work then?
I think most peoples’ responses in this section probably have to do with family concerns but I knew from an early age that I did not want children, so I had different things happening. When I started working here, I was happily married and, as I recall, some of my off-work time was focused on coming to terms with the fact that I did not really like research (in Physics) and I was clearly not cutting it as a graduate student (excelling in classes, but bored with research) after entirely too many years. At the time, my resume was a real hodge-podge; I hadn’t worked anywhere for more than a year or two, so I kind of expected the same would be true at Middlebury. As it turned out, my work at Middlebury has helped me “find myself” in ways that continue to surprise me – even after 25 years!
What are the most significant things happening in your life outside of work now (that you’d like to share)?
In late January, our dog, Dash, passed away, and my husband and I began living without four-legged companions for the first time since before we met 30 years ago. We have many interests that we haven’t pursued as much as we may otherwise have due to the joy and responsibilities that come with four-legged companions, so we’re in an exploration phase right now. One thing we are thinking about – by boat, we can get from our house on Otter Creek in Ferrisburgh to Lake Champlain then through the canal system to Lake Ontario, then up the Saint Lawrence to Montreal then back to Lake Champlain and Otter Creek and our house. That would take longer than I could take off from work at one time before I retire, but we might try some pieces of it in the near future. I have also gotten involved in town planning on the Ferrisburgh Planning Commission and regional planning at the Addison County Regional Planning Commission. I have found that work frustrating, challenging (in a good way), thankless, and gratifying all at the same time.
Have your interests/hobbies/athletic endeavors changed over the past 25 years? Have any of these been influenced by your work at the College or due to your association with others who work here?
My main interests are knitting and pretty much everything to do with old, classic sailboats; those interests haven’t really been affected by my work at Midd. However, over my 25 years here (and very occasionally before that), I have dabbled in golf and I hope to be able to spend some more time on the golf course over the next several years. If I did not work at Middlebury, I would definitely not be able to afford to play golf regularly.
What is your fondest memory or experience that you’ve had while working at Middlebury?
There have been numerous ones; I would like to name two if that’s ok. First is a few blessed friendships that I have with some of my colleagues. For example, my friendship with Michael Warner and his (now) husband, Joseph Watson, sparked my foray into local and state politics, which in turn resulted in personal growth that went in unexpected directions. I am sure that I am a very different person than I would have been if I had not worked side-by-side with Michael for a number of years. That is one example of how my colleagues have changed my life. Second is having had the opportunity through Staff Council and then as the staff constituent on the College Board of Overseers to be inspired and amazed at the commitment, integrity, and personal qualities of some of the trustees and members of the administration. There is a reason that Middlebury is the remarkable institution that it is.
Many people change jobs/careers multiple times in their working life. Something must have kept you here for 25 years. Is it anything that you can put into words?
I think it is a combination of the people I work with, the mission and values of the institution, and the opportunities for engagement and professional and personal growth. The golf course is nice, too!
What are your plans for the next 25 years?
At this stage of my life, I know that keeping healthy makes everything else more enjoyable, so getting exercise, improving my diet, and all the other things involved with staying healthy are becoming priorities. More than that, I would not hazard a guess!
Do you have a favorite place on campus?
The view from the balcony of Kirk Alumni Center, and the eastern view from the upper level of the Davis Family Library are among my favorites. There are also a number of groves of trees around campus that are nice to hang out in for a while. (I guess I’ve been unable to answer any of these questions with “just one”!)
Is there any person on campus (or retiree, former employer) that mentored you, or you feel helped you grow into your job, grow to enjoy your work and your time at the College?
At the risk of not mentioning many who have been influential, I definitely want to mention that when Rebekah Irwin was my supervisor, she was instrumental in helping me create a job that I think really draws on my strengths.
If you could give one piece of advice to a new employee at Middlebury, what would it be?
My motto is “There’s only one rule: have fun!” and as an employee at Middlebury, you have access to more than you might think. Some examples: I am researching a car purchase right now, so I consult Consumer Reports (go/databases, under C) without cost because I work at Middlebury. The library has a stunning array of books and other resources of all kinds (go/summon or go/midcat to find them). Middlebury has a golf course, a ski area, a natatorium, and other athletic facilities. Then there is the opportunity to audit a class or take it for credit if the faculty member agrees. (I’ve done this with Japanese and Dance.) If Middlebury has it, then as an employee you can more than likely use it (sometimes at a discount, sometimes at no charge).
Is there anything else that you would like to share about your time at Middlebury?
These are comprehensive questions, so there is not much I can think of to add. Overall, I feel extremely fortunate to have found my way here.