By: Gale Biddle
If you were to ask a random person to give you a description of the typical librarian and what they do, what do you think they would say? You might hear things like “always reading,” “shushing people,” “hair in a bun,” and “cardigan and sensible shoe wearers.”
How many would describe a chain-on-the-wallet, Mt. Dew chugging, metalhead who hasn’t had time to read a book in 3 months? Not many, but if they did, they could be describing Andrew Marshall, Reference and Instruction Librarian and Acting Head Librarian at Penn State Greater Allegheny.
Andrew began working at Penn State full-time in the Reserves Department at University Park in 2002. While there, he became the first E-Reserves specialist and eventually went on to become a Copyright Coordinator. While doing all of that, he obtained his Master of Library and Information Science degree, which led him to his next job in 2012 as a Reference and Instruction Librarian at Greater Allegheny. For the past 18 months, he’s been the Acting Head Librarian with the hope of making that permanent.
Originally from the Pittsburgh area, Andrew was happy to be near family again when he moved to the Greater Allegheny campus. As a teenager, he had a job working in the kitchen at a retirement home. He says it was a good job because he felt like he had 60 grandparents, and while there, he even started a band with some of his co-workers. Andrew is married and has a
9-year-old son, Dominic, who, according to Andrew, plays basketball and “is not great at it but he tries.” And trying is all that matters! (As someone who played basketball in 7th grade and managed to score a whopping 4 points the entire season, I can relate!). Dominic makes up for his lack of basketball skills in a lot of other areas, and Andrew is very proud of him.
Away from the Library, you can find Andrew playing his guitar and running a fantasy baseball league. He wrote a program in VBA to help him process all the stats because his league uses
several unique scoring categories. In addition, he likes working with graphic design and creating art and posters for library events.
For Andrew, being a librarian is fantastic since it requires you to do so many different things, and it can be great for someone with a short attention span. To him, the best part of being at Penn State is the community of the library, meaning the giant network of colleagues and amazing resources a large institution can provide even though he’s at a smaller campus. Since the Greater Allegheny campus is relatively small, it allows him to get to know the students by name. There are many students who come from underprivileged backgrounds and just getting
day-to-day needs met can be a real challenge. Being able to help them achieve something that will change their life for the better is beyond rewarding, and Andrew has found himself tearing up at a few graduations. I’m not sure the random person would describe that as part of being a librarian, but that’s what Andrew and the libraries do every day.
Ten Random Questions with Andrew Marshall
1. What band/artist do you always name when someone asks for a recommendation?
2. What is something that’s popular now that annoys you?
3. There are two types of people in this world. What are those two types? People who give quick responses and me!
4. You have $100 to spend. All your friends are busy. You have a whole day to yourself. What do you do? Go to an arcade and spend it all on pinball and Mt. Dew
5. What app can you not believe someone hasn’t invented yet? An app to let me know where free food is available
6. What was the last show you binge watched? Breaking Bad
7. What languages do you wish you could speak? Vietnamese (so he knows what his mother-in-law is saying about him!), Mandarin Chinese, German, and he’s trying to learn Spanish
8. What one thing do you really want but can’t afford? A ’69 Dodge Charger like the Dukes of Hazzard car (minus the flag decal). (Anyone else willing to admit they would enjoy sliding
across the hood, crawling into the window, and jumping across a dilapidated bridge in the car?!)
9. Would you rather visit the past or the future? The future to see how things turn out for his son
10. What would be the hardest vice for you to give up? Mt. Dew (It’s nectar of the gods, Andrew!)