The Essential Questions
What is your role and how long have you been working at Biddle?
I started at Biddle in July of 2018 as a Reference Librarian. Now, I’m the Head of Reference, which means that I schedule and coordinate desk and chat coverage among the ten librarians and library specialists who provide reference services. My other responsibilities include faculty research support, managing the queue of librarian appointment requests, assisting with LPS instruction, selecting U.S. publications for the library’s collection, and liaising with the journals. I am also one of the librarians who teaches sections of the Advanced Legal Research course, which is always a fun change of pace!
Where did you work before your time at Biddle?
Before Biddle, I worked as a reference librarian at the Georgetown University Law Center’s Edward Bennett Williams Law Library. Before that, I was working as a Teaching Assistant while I earned my dual J.D./MLIS at the University of Wisconsin.
What book/s are you reading right now?
I always try to wrap up things up in December so that I have a fresh start for the new year, so right now I’m about 10% into Paradise Now: The History of American Utopianism by Chris Jennings. I also just started The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. The last two books I finished, both during the winter break, were This is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan (which took a week) and David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (which I’d started before Thanksgiving).
Cats or dogs? Dogs.
Fiction or non-fiction? Lately, fiction.
Comedy or horror? Comedy for viewing, horror for reading.
Sweet or savory? Sweet.
Coffee or tea? Coffee. Black.
Are you taking or have you taken any classes at Penn?
Not currently, though sometimes in semesters when I’m not teaching I like to take courses in the LPS Online program using my tuition benefits. So far I’ve taken two classes in the Organizational Anthropology discipline and one in the Positive Psychology program.
Do you listen to any podcasts? If so, which one/s?
Yes! So many to plug… I love history podcasts, especially ones like Slate’s “Slow Burn” that incorporate lots of archival audio and tell parts of a single story across multiple episodes. “Crimetown” is another favorite, though it’s been dormant for a while–I hope they’ll bring it back someday. Patrick Radden Keefe’s “Wind of Change” was a great single-season show investigating whether the Scorpions song was actually written by the CIA. I also occasionally like to catch up on Karina Longworth’s “You Must Remember This,” which covers obscure stories from the history of Hollywood.
Finally, my wife Katie and I regularly listen to “Tig and Cheryl: True Story” in the background when we’re doing chores or working on jigsaw puzzles. This is ostensibly a podcast where comedians Tig Notaro and Cheryl Hines review documentaries, but they have a hard time staying on topic so you really just tune in for the banter.
Where is your favorite lunch spot on campus?
Federal Donuts for the Chicken Sandwich and Za’atar Fries. Throw in a Goldie Tehina shake (Turkish Coffee flavor) and you’re in business.
What is the last television series you binged?
We’re halfway through the fifth season of Search Party and just finished the second season of The Great. I also shotgunned the third season of Westworld a few weeks ago which was thankfully far less convoluted than season 2. Before that was Succession season 3. There’s definitely a common thread of satire/dark comedy running through all these choices.
What is your favorite reference question or most memorable library experience?
While all the librarians are generalists, we each have our own particular interests and expertise and every so often a question or project will come in that aligns so closely with our interests that it feels like kismet. I love working on projects with a history angle, especially ones related to the Civil War/Reconstruction/Gilded Age periods, and I’ve had the good fortune to work with professors and students on many different projects set within this era. Other than that, I honestly love working with journal students on source hunts. The process of tracking down hard-to-find items is frustrating and satisfying in equal measure.