By: Sara Cassieri

Jon Damrau is the new Assistant Librarian for Access and Outreach Services at Mount Saint Mary College. He works specifically with the Arts and Letters Department. The last book he read was “Lovecraft Country” by Matt Ruff. I interviewed him and learned just how exciting working at the Kaplan Library really is. When asked about his transition to working at the Mount, he said, “It has definitely been interesting!” 

He says the route to librarian started on a different path. He worked for 16 years as a manager for Barnes & Noble stores. He then worked for a year as a literacy tutor for kindergarten. While obtaining his MSLIS (Master of Science in Library and Information Science) at Drexel University, he started his work at the academic libraries of George Washington University. He feels this change is a big one, being his first librarian job and being faculty. Damrau speaks about his journey saying, “not going to lie, there’s been a bit of ‘impostor syndrome’ now and then! But I work with a great group of skilled, dedicated people that are excellent at their jobs and so supportive of me as I find my way.” He is glad to be able to help the students even a little, as they work through uncertainty. 

Each day, Damrau works with MSMC by way of consultations and supervising the Access Services Department at the library. This includes Interlibrary Loan, circulation, resource sharing, shelving, stacks maintenance and coordination of student workers. He says, “As part of the librarian group I provide reference support through the library website chat, walk-in questions, and maintain library web pages and certain research guides.” I met with him for research assistance over Zoom. His friendly demeanor and talkative personality made for a collaborative meeting. I felt comfortable with the library databases and those related to my topic of interest. His knowledge of writing and specifically poetry aided in my understanding of the research process. 

When asked about his typical work day, he said, “For librarians there’s always something different – some mornings are quiet, others I’m with students in classes for a few hours before I even check my email!” Mornings are filled with being productive, spending time with staff and walking through the library to check in with everyone. Late mornings and early afternoons are for the webinars and lunch. Damrau fills his afternoons with meeting students and student workers. He also answers questions in person and through chatting. He finishes his day “saying goodbye to the daytime staff and greeting the night crew before [he leaves] for the day.” In meeting with him I gained a sense of just how friendly he really is. What excites Damrau about coming to work every day is working with students. He says, “Students always bring new questions and insights. It’s very rewarding when they get the ‘a-ha!’ moment- that point when they’re making new connections to their studies and research.” It’s no surprise this excites him because his favorite work task is research consultations. 

Damrau’s best advice for someone looking for research assistance is to check the research guides on the MSMC portal, piece together a few ideas, then meet with your librarian: “Plan to do research more than once—as you uncover new information and layers you’ll want to reflect on what you’ve learned and dive in again with new ideas.” In his short time here, Damrau has brightened the faces of those around him and helped students feel confident in their research skills.