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Meet three outstanding library student employees

By May 25, 2023September 16th, 2023No Comments

By Adria Carpenter

The University of Minnesota Libraries couldn’t function without the work of its dedicated student employees. Every year, the Friends of the Libraries sponsors the outstanding library student employee award, which recognizes three students that exceed in job performance and expectations. The winners are chosen by the Friends of the Libraries Awards Committee and each receive $500.

This year’s winners are:

Claire Stocker

Before coming to Minneapolis, Stocker worked at her local public library in her hometown of Jordan, Minnesota. She applied for a position at the University Libraries before classes even started her freshman year.

Stocker joined the Access and Information Services team in the Wilson and Music Libraries, and she started out shelving books and pulling materials for patrons. But over the past four years, she’s become a lead student worker, helping train new students and managing the service desk.

“I have an interest in public policy making and how movements start. And I see the libraries as such an important part of that. Especially right now, in the age where material and information is under attack in certain areas. I feel super privileged to be working here, where we protect our patrons, and we protect that knowledge.”

—Claire Stocker

“Being able to rely on Claire to close the library has been greatly beneficial to the library, as it helps us keep the building open for patrons on Sunday nights,” said Library Assistant Alee Schmierer who nominated her. “We’re really proud to have Claire as a lead worker, she always has a great attitude about the work and is always ready to share a fact about bees!”

Stocker is now a graduating senior who majored in fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology, and minored in American Indian Studies and environmental sciences, policy and management. This coursework gave her flexibility to explore environmental justice topics and policy.

“I feel like my American Indian Studies minor really plays well into that, because to be a good conservation biologist, you have to be mindful of everybody who’s been here and everybody who still is here and is stewarding the land,” she said.

After graduation Stocker is heading to the Caribbean to work on a sea turtle conservation program. But long term, she plans to attend law school for environmental law.

“I have an interest in public policy making and how movements start. And I see the libraries as such an important part of that,” Stocker said. “Especially right now, in the age where material and information is under attack in certain areas, I feel super privileged to be working here, where we protect our patrons, and we protect that knowledge. I think that has been a bigger reward of working here.”

Helping people find the information they need to support projects and make change has been “really powerful” for her, and it’s given her a different perspective on research that has improved her own work. Since joining the libraries, Stocker has become more thoughtful about her audience, how her research can be used in the future, and how she frames her findings.

If nothing else, managing the flow of books has been a welcome reprieve between coursework.

“After I had a day full of classes, to just come and shelve books was a much needed break for my brain before I went back to doing homework,” she said. “It’s crazy and also very sad that I’m leaving cause I love the job here.”

Frances Ryan

Ryan is a senior psychology major and lead student library assistant at the Magrath and Natural Resources Libraries on the St. Paul campus. She also joined the Libraries in 2021 after a friend’s recommendation.

“One of my friends worked there, and I wanted to because it just seemed like a really relaxing, good environment to work in,” she said.

Beyond working behind the circulation desk and helping with stacks, Ryan has created a 1970s themed student and staff photo wall, helped decorate books for this year’s “Blind Date with a Book” event, and made artistic displays in Magarth, with themes like “The Arctic,” “Houseplants,” and “The Color of Spring.”

Ryan plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health, epidemiology, or an adjacent-field after graduation. She thinks there’s a lot of overlap between the mission of libraries and public health. “Public health is a lot of education and spreading knowledge, which is definitely what the libraries are all about, making sure everybody has access to all of the information they can,” she said.

Ryan is the primary student for odd jobs at the library. Whenever staff needed an interim plant caretaker, a spreadsheet ace for library liaisons, or someone to train new student workers, Ryan was ready and willing.

“We could tell as soon as Frances joined our team that she was going to be an outstanding teammate. Frances is dedicated, very dependable, and cares about her job and coworkers. She has an enthusiastic attitude and an ability to take on complex projects effortlessly,” said Student Supervisor Justin Boeser.

And the feeling goes both ways.

“I like the people I get to work with there. My student peers workers are great, as well as all of the full-time staff that work there. It’s just a really great environment to spend my time in.”

Mercer Dilweg

Dilweg is an Assistant Student Archivist at the Elmer L. Andersen Library, where he helps researchers in the reading room to properly handle archival materials, and helps with collection processing, records management, and research.

In his sophomore year, Dilweg became interested in working at the libraries following a friend’s recommendation but soon realized an archival position fit neatly with his coursework as a double major in history and Asian and Middle Eastern studies.

Dilweg is graduating this spring, but he’s already applying for jobs in the metro area, looking to become a full-time archivist.

“I’d really like to work as an archivist, just cause it’s been really fun, just going through all these old files and stuff. It’s like a continuation of my major but in a professional capacity,” he said.  From combing through ’90s era VHS tapes to old photographs and documents, there’s always something new at the archives.

“The projects are just really interesting,” he said. “It’s always something different, which is really nice.”

Dilweg joined the department in the spring of 2021, as part of the first group of students hired since the pandemic began. With the ever growing backlog of requests, he prepped material for digitization and conducted independent research on behalf of patrons. In the past two years, he processed 13 collections totaling over 241 cubic feet.

“Mercer has become a well-respected and much relied upon member of the staff, whose professionalism is recognized not only by the unit staff and supervisor to which he reports, but by the entire department,” said Collections Archivist Rebecca Toov, who nominated Dilweg.

Dilweg likes how flexible the position is and that he made connections with professors and researchers he otherwise wouldn’t have met.

“If a student is gonna read this, I think working at the archives is a great experience, and they should probably look for an open position at Elmer L. Andersen Library,” he said.

Adria Carpenter

Author Adria Carpenter

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