Category Archives: Getting to Know You

Getting to Know You: Kelly Thormodson

By: Gale Biddle

In March, the pandemic closed our libraries. In the ensuing months, we planned how we would reopen safely. We tried to imagine what our libraries would look like with social distancing, disinfecting, and masking policies. Someone was going to need to be the brave one to go first. In July, Kelly Thormodson was that first brave soul and reopened the doors of the Harrell Health Sciences Library Research and Learning Commons at the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey. We learned a few things from her, and now we can learn a few things about

Kelly began working at Penn State on April 1, 2019. Yes, it was April Fool’s Day, but when you hear Kelly talk about how much she enjoys being at Penn State, it was anything but a trick. When I asked her what she likes about Penn State, she immediately said, “The collegiality. When I interviewed for the position, I had interviews at Hershey and University Park. I heard at Hershey how much everyone wants people to succeed and how much support people are given. The next day, I heard the same thing at University Park. When both places said the same thing, it really stood out.” She also says that she sees it every day with her colleagues across the University.

As Associate Dean for Library and Information Services and Director, Kelly says she “puts out fires,” collaborates with Penn State and Penn State Health, and communicates with her great
team through an open-door policy (that’s somewhat figurative now with safe work practices!). She serves on the executive councils of both Dean Dewey and Dean Black. In addition, she maintains the budget and administration of the department. Fresh out of college, Kelly spent two years as a corporate trainer for a hotel company. She traveled all over the country opening new hotels. In fact, she opened 22 hotels in those two years. Opening a hotel included training the new staff on how to clean the rooms, how to manage the front desk, and even how to clean the pool. It wasn’t unusual to have 18 hour days and sometimes even 36 hour days leading up to the opening. Kelly is glad she did that when she was young, but soon realized it wasn’t her life’s ambition and went on to grad school to become a Librarian.

Kelly grew up on a dairy farm in Minnesota. (For you “Golden Girls” fans, the township where Kelly grew up was St. Olaf township.) Her first job was picking rocks out of the fields and feeding calves. She loved to help her grandma with the garden and chickens she raised. And, of course, with Minnesota being the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” there were three lakes on the farm. She has extended family who continue the back-breaking and underappreciated work of running it.

Felix and Callie, cats

Felix and Calli

When Kelly wants to find her moment of Zen, she enjoys painting. She typically works with acrylics and oils. Her subjects are usually objects, but someday she might venture into abstract
painting. After spending some time in Seattle, she became a self-professed “wine snob” by taking classes and seminars on wine. For the ultimate in fun, she combines her love of painting
with her love of wine and enjoys the popular “Sip and Paint” classes. Not surprisingly, like many of us in the libraries, she enjoys reading, especially mysteries. In fact, she’s a member of not one but four book clubs. And at the end of a long day, she likes to spend time with her cats, Felix and Calli….and maybe a little sip of Disaronno!

Ten Random Questions with Kelly Thormodson
1. One song you never get tired of? Alcohol by Bare Naked Ladies
2. App you wished someone would invent? An app that lets me know when things of interest are on sale around me (e.g. Disaronno, wine, steak)
3. Artist you always recommend when someone asks? Brandi Carlile
4. Last show you binge watched? Schitt’s Creek
5. Would you rather go to the past or the future? Future
6. Cutest animal? Penguins
7. What things do you miss the most since the pandemic began? Going out to restaurants with friends and traveling
8. What is something that you’ve enjoyed since the pandemic began? Working from home. Kelly would like to continue to have at least one day working from home for herself and her team once the pandemic is over.
9. What did you learn about yourself during the shutdown? An extrovert, Kelly had to learn how to find ways to get energy from sources other than people.
10. What one thing do you really want but can’t afford? A Hermès handbag. (For those like me who had never really heard of Hermès, their handbags cost thousands of dollars.)

Getting to Know You: Emma Beaver

By: Gale Biddle

There’s a saying that goes, “you only get one chance to make an impression.” Imagine losing track of time on the day of your interview with Emma Beaver, Head Librarian at Penn State
Fayette, and being over fifteen minutes late to call her. Definitely not the impression I wanted to make! Thankfully for me, Emma is incredibly kind and understanding. We rescheduled and
ended up having a fantastic conversation, and now you get the chance to meet Emma.

Emma Beaver bio picEmma grew up with two older brothers in Clymer, Pennsylvania. It’s a town with one stoplight, seven churches, and the best Italian restaurant, Luigi’s. Small town life has its perks, but Emma always wanted to get out of her hometown. She went to West Virginia for her undergraduate degree and then moved to New York City for five years. While living in New York City, she waited
tables, bartended, and worked in sales. She’s also worked in a supermarket at the register, deli, and bakery. After moving back home for graduate school, Emma had every intention to get the degree and go on to another adventure.

However, life has a way of changing plans. As she was tucking her nephew in one night, he said, “Auntie Em, you’re my best friend. I love you.” Those words changed everything, and she decided to stay closer to home. Emma became a director for a public library for three and a half
years after she graduated. She loved the job but admits, “it was a battlefield.” This led her to Penn State Fayette, where she’s been the Head Librarian since December 9, 2019. In the short time that she’s been part of the Penn State family, Emma has found it to be incredibly welcoming. Both the small campus and the larger Penn State community have provided her with the help and support she’s needed. She says that her “coworkers are kind and nice, and it makes it easy to come to work.”

If you love “old school” music, you will be in good company with Emma. In her free time, you can find her listening to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Harry Chapin, and John Denver. And she’s an unapologetic fan of the singer Meatloaf. She’s also a lifetime Girl Scout member. Emma lives with her husband, Brandon, and their rescue dog, Spike, and rescue cat, Flea (not named after the bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers). Reading, hiking, teaching herself the ukulele, and trying to become a better, more sustainable gardener are some of her other hobbies.

Emma certainly makes a wonderful impression. We’re all very happy to have you as part of the Penn State family, Emma. And no matter what your husband says, a picture of a sweaty Meatloaf is absolutely perfect for the dining room!

Ten Random Questions with Emma Beaver
1. Favorite smell? Lilacs, Grandma’s house, and pine
2. There are two types of people in this world. What are those two types? People who love and look forward to Christmas and those people who loathe it (Emma loves it!)
3. When is the most inappropriate time you broke out in laughter? In church with her mom
4. What is the cutest animal? Baby gorilla
5. What is the best compliment you ever received? When her sister-in-law said she is a really great aunt and when a complete stranger said she was viciously pretty (Emma feels shallow
choosing this example but it was the verbiage that impressed her)
6. What one thing do you really want but can’t afford? Horses
7. Most embarrassing moment? The time her husband convinced her that he brought a fly back to life and she told her family all about it.
8. You have $100 to spend. All your friends are busy. You have a whole day to yourself. What do you do? Buy favorite scotch, new book, and new album
9. What was the last show you binged watched? Outlander
10. Would you rather visit the future or the past? Neither—I would rather go to space

Getting to Know You- Andrew Marshall

By: Gale Biddle

Andrew Marshall photo

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?
Black Sabbath

2. What is something that’s popular now that annoys you?
Unboxing videos

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!)

Getting to Know You: Emily Zimmerman

By: Gale Viddle

Emily ZimmermanIn this “Getting to Know You” article, I want to introduce you to one of the newest members of the Penn State Libraries family, Emily Zimmerman. Emily is the Reference and Instruction Librarian at Penn State DuBois. She just began working in this position in August of last year. She teaches entry-level courses, works at the Reference Desk, and does one-on-one work with

Before coming to Penn State, Emily taught English at Clearfield High School for 10 years to 9th-12th graders and loved it. And if teaching high schoolers wasn’t enough, she also waitressed at a local Italian restaurant for about 15 years. Emily grew up in the sleepy town of Sykesville, PA, where there’s only one stoplight and everyone knows your name. Of course, that can be quite the disadvantage when you’re younger and maybe doing something that your parents wouldn’t necessarily approve! But Emily liked growing up there, along with her three sisters and a brother. She even had her own paper route. For a brief time as a teenager, she lived in New Jersey, and now most of her family resides in New York.

Away from her work duties, Emily loves to spend time with her husband and 3-year-old daughter. Recently, they went to Disney for her daughter’s birthday, and now her daughter is obsessed with princesses and make-up. Emily also enjoys traveling and tries to go somewhere new at least once a year. As a child, she played piano and someday hopes to have a piano and continue to play. On a side note, we discussed that no matter how hard we tried, neither of us could ever learn to play without sheet music or play a fast-paced song. Someday, Emily, someday we will…

Being new in a large community like the Libraries could seem overwhelming. However, it didn’t take Emily long to feel the welcoming atmosphere. She says that “everyone has been so friendly and very helpful.” I’m sure I speak for all of the Libraries when I say, “Welcome and happy to have you here, Emily!”

Ten Random Questions with Emily Zimmerman:
1. Least favorite word? Moist (I’m grossed out even writing it…)
2. Last concert you attended? Kacey Musgraves
3. Favorite food? Ice cream, especially Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (YES!!!)
4. First thing you do if you win the lottery? Buy a beach house
5. If you could only listen to one song forever, what would it be? Wouldn’t want to listen to same song forever
6. Care-a-mel or Car-mel? Car-mel
7. If you could go back to high school, would you? No
8. Cereal—soggy or crunchy? Crunchy
9. Favorite color? Purple (YES!!!)
10. Toilet paper—over or under? Over

Getting to Know You – Shannon Richie

By: Gale Biddle

Amid the banging and clanging of renovations at the Lofstrom Library at Penn State Hazleton, you will find Shannon Richie continuing to field reference questions and instruct students on
library databases and services. He’s been a Reference and Instruction Librarian at Penn State since September 1999. Being part of the academic community and having academic conversations is the most rewarding part of his job, and it’s what he enjoys most about Penn State. In addition to teaching and providing in-person reference services, Shannon also volunteers to provide virtual reference help through the Ask-A-Librarian program. In fact, he was part of the pilot program and is the only one currently serving on the live AAL service from the original six members of the program.

Shannon grew up near the small town of Sunbury, just 50 miles north of Harrisburg. Sunbury is the location for the Weis ice cream plant, where Shannon had his first job (and a dream job for
many!) and spent his college summers working there before he went to library school. It was also here at the community library where he found a book, Carrier War in the Pacific, that would
create a lifelong passion in naval history. Years later, he tracked down the exact book he used to borrow, but unfortunately someone had purchased it before he could do so.

Shannon spends his free time with his wife, Sandra, and their two cats, Nita and Snicker. They rescued them as part of a pet adoption program. When they adopted them, they were told that
Snicker was the shy one. Time has proven that to be somewhat incorrect. Shannon describes him as a “holy terror” who likes to destroy things and bite toes. Nita is the docile one. However,
they still love them both and are happy to have adopted them!

Shannon enjoys building ship models, although these days he tends to collect them more so than build them. He also enjoys collecting major league sports cards, and for the last 10 years,
he has participated in the National History Day competition as a judge in the website category. In addition, he’s a devoted member of his church.

As part of my interview, I like to ask 10 random questions. One of the questions I asked Shannon led to an answer that I think deserves more space than a brief sentence, and I think it says a lot about him. He told me the story of a snowy Christmas Eve night when he was traveling with his family to church services. Along the way, they saw a man huddled in in the doorway of a building. They stopped to talk to the man and discovered that he had family in Pittsburgh but not enough money to get home to them. Shannon’s mother, who he calls the “real hero of this story,” gave him $20. After they returned home, Shannon and his family kept thinking about the man. They called the police and told them the story. After the police found the man, they chipped in to buy him a ticket to Pittsburgh. It may not have seemed like much to Shannon and his family what they did that night, but their actions probably meant everything to that man.

10 Random Questions
1. Favorite Movie? Gettysburg or Lord of the Rings
2. Place you’d like to visit that you’ve never been to? New Zealand
3. Is a hotdog a sandwich? No
4. Talent you wished you had? Being able to do woodworking
5. Dream job? Teaching naval history or systematic theology in seminary or grad school
6. Favorite cartoon? Tom & Jerry
7. Three people, past or present, you would like to have dinner with? Jesus, Abe Lincoln, and C.S.  Lewis
8. If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would it be? Tom Brady on Super Bowl Sunday, which won’t be happening this year! **Note: The joy expressed by this fact is solely the
9. Best gift you’ve ever given? See last paragraph of article
10. Favorite Color? Navy Blue

Getting to Know You: John Shank

By: Gale Biddle

John Shank. Head Librarian by day, unpaid Uber driver for his kids by night. How awesome would that be as a business card! As the Head Librarian at Penn State Berks and the incredibly busy father of six – yes, you read that correctly- six kids, John certainly has his hands full. But he handles it all with a great sense of humor and gratitude.

John Shank Headshot

John was born in Los Angeles, California. His family moved to Indiana before he turned one. By his pre-teens, he was living in New Jersey, and by the time he was a teenager, he was living in
Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. He majored in Political Science at Earlham College, but he realized that he had no idea what he wanted to do since didn’t want to teach Political Science or be a politician. As fate would have it, he stumbled across a job opening at the Montgomery County Community Library. From there, his career path would be paved.

John worked at both Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges before settling in at Penn State Berks in July 2001. He began as the Instructional Design Librarian, which was a first-of-its-kind at Penn State. In that position, he worked as the liaison between teaching and learning groups, IT, and the Library in order to help faculty adopt appropriate educational technology into their curriculum. In 2014, he became the Head Librarian. He continues to teach and do research, especially in the area of instructional technology.

As you can imagine, John is going non-stop with his 6 children- Katie, 15, Sam, 13, Daniel, 11, Sarah, 9, and twins Rebecca and Rachel, 7. Along with his wife, Jennifer, he finds ways to enable his kids to do what they want to do. Between shuttling kids from one practice to another, he finds time to coach soccer and play tennis. In fact, all his children play tennis, too.  Unfortunately, all of this leaves little time for a pet, despite his children’s pleas for one. Jokingly, though, he says that he and his wife will get one as soon as the kids leave the house so that they can complain about how they never got to have a pet growing up!

When it comes to Penn State, John is thankful for how conscience people are about doing their job. He sees how people across the board in the Libraries approach their job with a sense of value to what they do and provide. He appreciates the diversity and opportunities that the University offers. But, like so many have said before, the best part of Penn State is just the
people. He said, “I love the people I work with. I haven’t worked with a better group.” I’m sure they would say the same about him.

Well, I’m going to go take a nap. After hearing John explain his after-work routine, I’m exhausted just thinking about it!

Ten Random Questions with John Shank

1. Favorite Movie? The Mission
2. Best gift you’ve ever given? Time together with family
3. First thing you do if you won the lottery? Figure out how to do the most good with it
4. If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be? Pachelbel’s Canon in in D Major
5. Talent you wished you had? Be able to play the piano and speak all languages fluently
6. Top 3 people, past or present, you would like to have dinner with? Any great, great, great grandparent to see where I came from: all the major religious figures (Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, etc.): George Washington
7. Caramel—pronounce it like care-a-mel or car-mel? Care-a-mel, but I don’t like caramel
8. Dream job (obviously aside from the Library)? Auto reviewer for Consumer Reports
9. Favorite cartoon or cartoon character? The Far Side
10. Most embarrassing moment you’re willing to admit to? Didn’t see a wet spot on the floor of the cafeteria in college. Did a complete wipeout with food and feet flying up in the air

Getting to Know You: Dawn Oswald

By: Gale Biddle

Have you ever met someone for the first time and you just knew that you were going to like them? Dawn Oswald is that kind of person. I met her at a Tech Liaison Retreat a few weeks ago,
and it didn’t take long to see that she’s a fun and nice person. So, I was very happy when she agreed to do this interview. I expected the interview to be fun, and Dawn didn’t disappoint.

Dawn is the Information Resources and Services Supervisor/Manager at the Penn State York campus. Initially, she began working part-time, and in September 2002, she became the
manager. Her job entails supervising the staff and Circulation area and overseeing the daily operations of the library. Since it’s a small staff at her library, she needs to be a “jack of
all trades,” meaning she needs to be well versed in multiple systems, such as Circulation, Interlibrary Loan, and even Course Reserves, and the procedures and policies for each.

Raised in the small town of Havre De Grace, Maryland, which is located at the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the top of the Chesapeake Bay, Dawn graduated and went on to a school outside of Boston. She majored in Clothing and Textiles, which led her to a 10-year career in costume design. For a time, she worked in a regional theater in Connecticut where some future stars would go to try out shows before they made it to the big time. It was a lot of work, especially dealing with directors, managers, and the artists themselves, but she enjoyed it. Although she may have technically left the costume design world behind, it still sometimes finds its way to her. When Dawn’s daughter was recently in a play, she may have volunteered her mom to create a costume for Cinderella!

Speaking of family, Dawn is married to Joel, an 8th grade math teacher. Together, they have 2 children—a daughter, Corinne, and a son, Christian. They also have 2 rescue cats named Terry
and Mordecai. But family can be more than just those genetically related to you. The best part of being at Penn State for Dawn is the family she’s made with her co-workers. Especially with a
small staff, she says it’s almost impossible not to get involved in each other’s lives. Just like our own family, there are good days and some, well, less than great days. But in the end, it’s that family-like bond with a little bit of humor thrown in that makes it all worth it.

For fun, Dawn likes to play mini golf, cook, cheer for the Steelers, read, and sew. But do you know what is her favorite hobby? Napping. She loves a good nap and will take one wherever
and whenever she can. Sitting up. Laying down. It doesn’t matter. Any place is a good place for a nap. So, if you ever get the chance to meet Dawn, be sure to say hello. You won’t regret it. But if she happens to be napping, let her sleep.

Ten Random Questions with Dawn Oswald:
1. Favorite Color? Purple
2. Best gift you ever received? A George Seurat mug
3. If you deserted on an island, what one item would you have to have with you? A pillow!
4. Is a hot dog a sandwich? Yes
5. If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be? “Sentimental Reasons” by Sam Cooke
6. Talent you wished you had? To be able to sing opera
7. Favorite food? Maryland steamed crabs
8. Favorite movie? The Sound of Music
9. Caramel—pronounced like care-a-mel or car-mel? Care-a-mel
10. If you could trade places with any person for a day, who would it be? My husband–he seems organized and ready, and I would love to experience that!

Getting to Know You- Ryan Johnson

By: Gale Biddle

Chances are you’ve already met Ryan Johnson in at least some capacity. I’m sure we’ve all taken a training course on how to use Kaltura, to navigate the maze of Office 365, or, quite frankly, to make heads or tails out of a new tech change here at the Libraries. Most likely, Ryan has been your instructor in those sessions. As the IT Training Coordinator for the Libraries, it’s his job to provide documentation and training for the entire University Libraries’ staff. With the rapid changes in technology every day, that’s a lot to keep up with, but Ryan manages to do so with a calmness that makes even the most technophobic person feel relaxed.

Ryan was born in the small town of Amsterdam, NY, but spent most of his childhood growing up in Saratoga Springs, NY, a town very similar to that of State College. His first job was as a
dishwasher at the Saratoga Springs racetrack. As a student at SUNY Albany, he studied meteorology and had ambitions of becoming an on-air meteorologist. Upon graduation, he worked at AccuWeather in their IT systems. This was where his career veered from meteorology into ITech. And he never looked back!

It was 11 years ago that Ryan came to Penn State. He began as an IT training specialist and eventually became the IT Training Coordinator. This requires him to be up to date on new technology and its applications. Every time there’s a change on the horizon, he researches it so that he can effectively communicate to us what those changes will be and how it will affect what we do. But that’s what Ryan loves about his job. He loves the changes in technology and the new students, staff, and faculty that arrive each year. He’s always learning and teaching new
things in an atmosphere that’s relaxed. “Penn State’s always trying to evolve,” he says.

Ryan Johnson, photo

Two weeks from now, you’ll find Ryan basking in the Caribbean sun on the beaches of Aruba. Traveling is one of the things he loves to do with his wife of nearly 20 years, Angelita, whom he
met while working at AccuWeather and followed to Penn State, and his two sons, Cody and Jordan. They have 2 dogs, Max and Molly. If you’re a fan of hard rock bands like Metallica, Breaking Benjamin, or Alice in Chains, you might spot Ryan at one of their concerts. He’s a big sports fan (the Oakland — soon-to-be Las Vegas– Raiders and the New York Yankees are two of his favorite teams) and a movie buff. In fact, he even has a small movie room in his basement.

So, if you’re ever sitting at your desk in a cold sweat, fearing some new bit of technology heading your way, there’s no need to panic. Ryan is always patient and willing to help you
learn. But, if you want to know why it’s raining outside when it was supposed to be sunny, don’t blame the (one time hopeful) weatherman!

Ten Random Questions with Ryan Johnson
1. Favorite Movie? 12 Angry Men
2. Least Favorite Word or Phrase? I can’t do that (Ryan believes there’s always a way)
3. Place you’d like to visit that you’ve never been to? Europe, especially Spain
4. First thing you would do if you won the lottery? Build a huge movie room and a bowling alley in his basement
5. Talent you wish you had? To fix a car or things around the house
6. If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be? A musician and go onstage to perform
7. Top 3 people, past or present, you would like to have dinner with? Abe Lincoln, Jimi Hendrix, and Theodore Roosevelt
8. Cereal- Crunchy or Soggy? Soggy (Thank you Ryan, for being the rare person like myself who prefers soggy cereal!)
9. Favorite food? Meatloaf
10. Song that best describes you? “Hail to the King” by Avenged Sevenfold

Getting to Know You: Meg Massey

Bye: Gale Biddle

Meg Massey has a confession to make; she never used Interlibrary Loan as an undergrad. Like many students, she felt she could find all the materials she needed at her university. It’s a bit
ironic given that she’s now the Manager of Interlibrary Loan at University Park and an enthusiastic promoter of the service. But, like many of us, she learned along the way that Interlibrary Loan is an invaluable resource, and she’s committed to showing others what it can do for them.

Meg grew up in the small town of Richland, Pennsylvania, just outside of Lebanon. It’s the kind of town where everyone knows each other, and you can leave your doors unlocked (just don’t
tell Meg’s dad that since he’s a locksmith!). It’s also in the middle of Amish country, and on a typical Sunday night, 15-20 horse-drawn buggies would be at her neighbor’s house for a
gathering. One of Meg’s favorite memories is when she and her father were outside and heard music coming from an unknown place. They turned to see a buggy go by with a boom box blasting rap music.

Meg Massey and family, photo

A lover of reading, Meg initially thought she wanted to be an English professor. While attending Kutztown University as an undergrad, she worked at her first job as a student assistant in the library. She continued working in a library during grad school, and it was around that time when she began to question if she really wanted to be a professor. Her manager suggested that maybe she should become a librarian. This was Meg’s “a-ha” moment because she realized that she truly loved the work and felt engaged. So, she changed course and became a librarian. After spending a couple of years working in marketing and working at another college, Meg came to Penn State in September 2017.

As Manager of Interlibrary Loan, she’s responsible for coordinating activities, supervising staff, troubleshooting problems, running statistics, and generally making sure that the wheels keep turning. And keeping the wheels turning is no easy task. Interlibrary Loan supplied 65,000 items and received 45,000 items last year alone! I don’t know about you, but those numbers sound mind-boggling. Meg also represents the department on various committees, task forces, and other working groups. But, when you talk to Meg, you can tell immediately that she loves her job and the challenges that must come with it. For her, Penn State has provided so many opportunities to learn and to meet interesting people from different backgrounds. She says that
she’s “been inspired by the people here” and is impressed with how kind and welcoming the community has been to her.

Need help with ideas for some home improvement projects? Are you completely and totally decorationally challenged like myself? You might want to look to Meg for inspiration. In her free time, she and her husband are real DIYers and are currently working on fixing up their new home. He likes to build furniture, and she likes to paint it. They’ve even helped other people flip
houses. And now that they have a place of their own, Meg is really looking forward to making her daughter, Nora, happy by getting her the cat she’s been wanting. When she’s not working on her home or doing something creative like painting and drawing, Meg likes to sing in her church worship team. Singing is something she loves to do and has been doing since she was

So, the next time you or someone you know needs an item that Penn State doesn’t have, give Interlibrary Loan a try. It’s a fantastic service that the libraries provide. And appreciate the
fantastic people who bring that service to you. Fantastic people like Meg Massey!

Ten Random Questions with Meg Massey

1. What song best describes your life? “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman soundtrack (especially the P!nk version)
2. Cereal– Soggy or crunchy? Crunchy
3. If you could trade places with a person for one day, who would it be? My husband. I would love to understand how he thinks!
4. Favorite Movie? Any of the Star Wars movies but especially Return of the Jedi
5. Favorite food? Tacos
6. First thing you would do if you won the lottery? Put it in the bank, pay off debt, and maybe invest in real estate
7. Talent you wished you had? To play an instrument so I could sing and play together
8. Top 3 people, past or present, you would like to have dinner with? My paternal grandmother because I never got to meet her, Jane Austen because I love her, and George Lucas because I want to know how his mind works
9. Last concert you’ve been to? Will be seeing John Mayer in July
10. Is a hot dog a sandwich? No

Article Category: Other

Getting to Know You: Jenny Cifelli

“Just so you know, I’m boring.” These were the first words Jenny Cifelli, assistant editor for Public Relations and Marketing for the Libraries, said when I called her for this interview. I assured her that many people may think that about themselves, but it’s rarely true. We’ve all got interesting stories to tell. That’s certainly true of Jenny’s case. From massage therapy to the oil business to public relations, Jenny’s career path has some fun twists and turns that has led her here to Penn State.

Jenny grew up on the Lakeshore area of Chicago. She loved living there, but she wasn’t crazy about the weather. During high school, she worked at a bath store where she would blend the customer’s choices from the perfume bar to create their unique shampoo, conditioner, or lotion. Let’s just say that some patrons’ choices were a little more “unique” than others! But she loved the job, and it would influence her later career choices. A friend would eventually purchase the store, and sometimes Jenny gets to go back and run the it for a bit. From there, she went on to become a massage therapist and lived in New Jersey, California, and Oregon. She also spent some time working in the oil business.

It was in September of 2017 that Jenny joined the Penn State family. She was already familiar with the State College area since her father had grown up around there, and she had visited as a child. She began working in the Public Relations and Marketing Department where she provides promotion, public relations, and communications from the all the libraries to the faculty, staff, and students via press releases and social media. When I asked her what part of working for Penn State she enjoys most, she said she loves being able to hear and tell all the stories that people create. She feels like she gets to know people based off the classes and work that they produce. She said, “There’s a lot of excited librarians around. I love it!”

When she’s procrastinating from something she doesn’t want to do, Jenny likes to organize. She says there’s nothing like cleaning out a closet! But her biggest passion is all things wellness. She teaches yoga classes, and although she gave up her massage therapy license, she still enjoys giving massages for fun. She’s a member of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, which aims to integrate aromatherapy into complimentary healthcare practices. With a little bit of luck, Jenny will hopefully have a little pet therapy soon, as well. She’s searching rescue sites with the hope of adopting an Australian Shepherd dog.

So, when you need to get the word out about your class or event, let Jenny know. And if you need a nice, relaxing massage while the sweet smell of lavender wafts through the air, maybe let her know that, too! (I can’t make any promises but it’s worth a try, right?!)

Ten Random Questions with Jenny Cifelli

  1. Favorite Color? Aqua & Orange
  2. Best gift you ever received? A car from her aunt—it gave her the opportunity to travel.
  3. Favorite food? Salmon… but better yet, lobster & champagne!!
  4. First thing you would do if you won the lottery? Take a world tour. Travel to every continent.
  5. Talent you wished you had? To sing
  6. Least favorite word? Tummy
  7. If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be? The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin
  8. Toilet Paper—Over or Under? Over
  9. If you left on a desert island, what one item would you have to have with you? Headphones & music
  10. Last concert you attended? Dead & Company (The Grateful Dead with John Mayer)

Getting to Know You- Anne Belden

By: Gale Biddle

As we walk into our respective libraries, our eyes are flooded with shelves full of books, CD’s, DVD’s, vinyl albums, games, and so many other fantastic items to use. It seems like each day there’s something new. But, did you ever stop and wonder how those items make it to the shelves? Who’s behind the scenes, pulling levers, pressing buttons like the Wizard of Oz,
and making our libraries’ needs and wishes a reality? If you peel back the curtain, you will find it’s awesome people like Anne Belden, Information Resources and Services Support Specialist in the Acquisitions Department, who are responsible.

Anne’s first job at Penn State was working in a hot dog stand at various sporting events. She began working in the libraries as a student in 2007. Then, in August 2012, she became a part of the Monograph Acquisitions Team, which is responsible for purchasing all types of materials. When your library needs a specific book or a vinyl album, it’s Anne and the team who places the order. She says the best part of her job is getting to view all the new titles that come in to the libraries. However, that can be both a blessing and a curse. Seeing so many interesting items has led to checking out so many items, and Anne says she has checked out more than her share. I think many of us can relate!

cameo photo of Anne Belden in costume (Captain Ahab)A native of State College, Anne is accustomed to the hustle and bustle of the city, especially during football season. She says she and her family have learned to time grocery shopping trips
during halftime in order to avoid the traffic. But don’t expect to see her cart full of unnecessary items. Anne calls herself “a real cheapskate” and likes to stick to a budget. In fact, she even enjoys creating budgets for her friends. In her free time, Anne enjoys going to the gym, practicing yoga, gardening, and, especially, houseplants. Ironically, the reason that she became so interested in caring for houseplants is because she killed the first plant she was given. From then on, she saw it as a challenge to keep and grow them. Now, her house is full of them. She says her favorite thing is to give and get cuttings from plants because that means “each plant has a story behind it.” Recently, she found a fish tank along the side of a road and has decided to take on the challenge of growing aquatic plants. And if Mother Nature will cooperate this year, she also wants to try her hand at container gardening.

When I asked Anne “What’s the best thing about working for Penn State?”, she echoed what so many others have said before her—the people. She says she’s met a lot of her good friends here. Anne also says that Penn State offers so many activities and opportunities to learn about almost anything. One of her favorite things are the lunchtime presentations where you get a chance to hear from all kinds of people on all kinds of topics.

So, the next time an interesting book on a shelf catches your eye, take time to appreciate the people who bring it to you: Amazing, fun, sweet people like Anne!

Ten Random Questions with Anne Belden:

1. Favorite Color? Pink
2. Last concert you’ve been to? Dolly Parton & Lady Gaga
3. If you were on a desert island, what one thing would you have to have with you? Sunscreen
4. If you could listen to only one song for the rest of your life, what would it be? Can’t pick just  one song but anything by Sam Cooke would be great
5. Favorite movie? White Christmas
6. Place you would like to visit that you’ve never been to? Italy for the art
7. What is the first thing you would do if you won the lottery? Buy a farm and rescue animals
8. Favorite food? Pretzels, especially Snyder’s Snaps
9. Is a hot dog a sandwich? Yes, because it’s between bread
10. What talent do you wish you had? To sing

Getting to Know You: Ann Thompson

By: Gale Biddle

As I was interviewing Ann Thompson, Manager of the Knowledge Commons in Pattee Library and mother of 4 active children, I thought of Professor Hinkle, the magician on the animated show Frosty the Snowman, saying “busy, busy, busy” because busy is exactly what Ann is, both at work and at home. Growing up in a town in Potter County so small that it doesn’t have a traffic light, Ann’s first job was using her grandfather’s riding lawnmower to mow lawns. A self-proclaimed “math nerd,” she received her bachelor’s degree in Math with a focus on Statistics from Penn State. This is where her long connection with Penn State started.

Ann began her career at Penn State Behrend in 1991 as a student before transferring to University Park in 1992. She took a brief break to work at another company but found that she didn’t enjoy it. So, she came back to Penn State and to the Libraries, where she says, “it gets in your blood and you stick around.” Overall, she spent seven years working part-time in the library including the Periodical Room and the Math Library. Once she became a full-time employee, Ann worked in several departments, including Serials, Microforms, and News and Microforms before settling into the Physical and Mathematical Sciences (PAMS) Library for twelve years. During her tenure at the News and Microforms and PAMS Libraries, Ann saw each facility undergo significant changes. She had to coordinate her area of collections and resources with internal and external library services.

cake by Ann Thompson for blog postStarting about seven months ago, she became the Manager of the Tombros McWhirter Knowledge Commons. Ann oversees all the operations within the Knowledge Commons, including the services at the Welcome Desks at Pattee/Paterno and at the Search Bar. The position requires her to work with the IT department, Media and Maker Commons, and the Writing Tutors to create a successful partnership to assist students. Now that the Head of Knowledge Commons is on sabbatical, Ann is taking on additional responsibility as acting Head from January until June of this year. In addition, she’s the product owner of the Room Reservation system, LibCal, and the contact person for 25Live.

Ask Ann about her family, and you will immediately know how proud she is of them. Ann and John, her husband of twenty years, are parents to Julia, Amber, Laurie, and John. Her children (ranging in age from kindergarten to high school senior) are involved in figure skating, soccer, hockey, volunteering, plays, and much more. As a family, they enjoy being together and doing all sorts of outdoor activities, including skiing and canoeing. The family pets include Pumpkin, a cat, and Pi, a dog. Ann’s husband, a mechanical engineer, is also a pilot, and on occasion, he takes her to her favorite place–the beach. She’s a gifted cake baker and decorator and makes beautiful wedding cakes.  Some of her other hobbies include knitting, crocheting, and photography. And if all of that isn’t enough, she became a certified Scrum Master, too!

When it comes to Penn State, Ann says that the best part of working here is the people she’s met throughout her career. She says she’s “made some lasting relationships, met some great people, and learned some great lessons.” I think that statement rings true for most of us. And Ann is one of those great people you will meet here at Penn State.

Ten Random Questions with Ann Thompson

  1. Favorite Movie? Fried Green Tomatoes
  2. Favorite color? Blue
  3. Least favorite word? Freaking—if you’re going to swear, just say it!
  4. Last concert you’ve been to? Josh Grobin
  5. Place you’d like to visit that you’ve never been? Hawaii
  6. Best gift you ever received? My family
  7. Best gift you ever gave? 4 children
  8. Favorite food? Lasagna
  9. If you were on a desert island, what one thing would you have to have with you? My husband—he’s handy to have around
  10. First thing you would do if you won the lottery? Invest it to pay off my kids’ education

Getting to Know You: Alessia Zanin-Yost

By: Tracy Reilly and Gale Biddle

Vincenza, Italy Photo

Dedicated. Enthusiastic. Go-getter. These are just a few of the words to describe Alessia Zanin-Yost, one of Penn State Altoona’s Reference and Instruction Librarians. Born and raised in Vincenza, Italy, which is nestled between Venice and the Alps, Alessia is the 5th of 7 children in her family. Her first job was as a pastry chef for a bakery, and later, she taught history at a community college before becoming a librarian. She came to Penn State Altoona in January 2014 and began providing collection development and instruction for 8 departments on campus, as well as reference help for students and faculty. She’s a member of ALA, ACRL Arts, and ACRL EBSS.

Alessia has presented several projects and papers in Italy and at IFLA. She says she enjoys learning how  people use information resources in other places, especially in underdeveloped countries with limited resources. She’s very grateful for the opportunity to present a Penn State perspective to other countries and has had library professionals implement some of her ideas.

This year, Alessia has the prestigious honor of leading a team in assessing the outcomes for the Navigate Project, a collaboration between the University of Parma in Italy, the University of Gvale in Sweden, and the University of Sofia in Bulgaria. The project, sponsored by the European Commission, entails creating a common curriculum for students in Humanities & Social Studies and embeds information literacy into the programs through game-based learning. This year will be the first time that the project will involve multiple countries. Alessia is honored to be a part of the project and proud to have Penn State’s name attached to such an ambitious undertaking.

Alessia’s favorite part of working at Penn State? The students. She loves getting to meet the students as first-year students and watching them develop and grow during their time at Penn State. She especially enjoys the small campus atmosphere at Penn State Altoona since it gives her the opportunity to really get to know the students and faculty. She works closely with the faculty on projects and finds it rewarding to see them being implemented successfully.

When she’s not busy with her work, Alessia enjoys spending time with her 2 daughters, Monica and Sonia, her husband Mike, and their three dogs. She’s also an avid gardener and loves to paint and draw. Cooking is another way for her to wind down after a busy day. And as her co-workers can attest, she makes a delicious tiramisu!

Welcome Megha Tuladhar: Fall 2018 Marie Bednar development intern

By: Sarah Bacon

Megha Tuladha headshot

Megha Tuladha

Meet inspiring, rising senior Megha Tuladhar, who joins the Libraries as our Marie Bednar Development Intern. Megha is from Nepal, and during her high school years helped support victims of human trafficking and was a strong advocate for economic development and human rights. After Nepal’s devastating 2015 earthquake, Megha went to work as a fundraiser and led efforts to provide an entire village with essentials like clothing, proper sanitation, food, and housing.

Megha will graduate this December with a B.A. in Economics. She came to Penn State with a desire for knowledge and learning beyond the known and sought out this University to have the
“ultimate American college experience”. She wasted no time getting plugged into her new Penn State community and is an executive board member for Ascend, the largest Pan-Asian
professional business organization.

After receiving her B.A., Megha will follow her passions for economic development, micro finance, sustainability, and international relations by pursuing a post graduate degree and
ultimately moving back to Nepal to help advance her country and its people. Megha will use her Penn State education and experiences to build bridges within and between communities in
Nepal and across the globe.




Getting To Know You: Victoria Rose Raish

By: Jen Cywinski and Tracy Reilly

Victoria Raisch

If you’re a student or instructor in World Campus, you may know Victoria Rose Raish, or “Torrie” as she’s known by her friends and colleagues.

Torrie received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Mercyhurst University before earning her Master’s degree in Secondary Science Teaching in USC’s online graduate program through the
Rossier School of Education. Hired by Penn State in 2016 for Library Learning Services, she is the Online Learning Librarian where she collaborates with World Campus. Torrie also assists
with teaching campus courses. Prior to being hired for the Libraries, Torrie was a graduate assistant for three years.

Sometimes people say librarians are “lifesavers”, so maybe it’s no surprise that Torrie was a lifeguard at the Sandcastle Waterpark in Pittsburgh while growing up outsidethe city limits.
Another fun fact is that Torrie went to school with Cameron Thomaz, who is better known as the rapper Wiz Khalifa!

Victoria Raish

Torrie and her husband, Adam have a very busy personal life raising five little girls. Emma, Ella, Elsa, and Elka are ages eight through one, and the fifth is Etta, who arrived after we interviewed Torrie! When she has free time, she loves to run in the mornings and used to compete in a collegiateathletics team for running.

When you ask Torrie what she likes about working for Penn State she says, “Everyone is very supportive and wants to help you to be successful”.

Getting To Know You: Linda Ferriss

By: Jen Cywinski and Tracy Reilly

If you’ve ever visited the Kelly Library at the Greater Allegheny Campus in McKeesport then you’ve probably seen Linda Ferriss behind the service desk. Linda started there in January
of 2012 as an instructor for reading specialist classes. In August of the same year, a position opened up for an Information Resource Specialist so she applied and the rest is history.

Like many of these positions on smaller campuses, Linda wears many hats. She is in charge of interlibrary loan, cataloging, collection maintenance, weeding, processing new materials, as
well as overseeing student workers’ hours and payroll.

Linda attended Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a Bachelors in Elementary Education with a concentration in reading. Her love of books and reading later inspired her to go on for a Masters specializing in Reading Literacy. What you may not know about Linda is that when she first joined the job force after college, she attended a job fair and decided to teach English in a foreign country, including Venezuela for two years and Spain for one year!

Having grown up in Williamsport, PA, her family always had season tickets for Penn State Football, so family and PSU go together for Linda. Speaking of which, she and her husband Ed have a 14-year-old Lab mix named Jasper, and she has two sons, James and Daniel.

Though Linda was hired for the Kelly Library specifically, she loves being part of the big picture at Penn State- “I have to know people throughout the system and across the state!”


Getting To Know You: Amanda Peters

Photo of Amanda Peters and her dog, Teddy, a border collie/brittany mix and her two cats.

By: Jennifer  Cywinski

Amanda Peters has always had a love for history. It may have started when she
began working at The Frick Art and Historical Center in Pittsburgh, where she
was introduced to the history of the coal and coke industry back in
Pittsburgh and she has loved the subject ever since.

In 2016 Amanda became the Archivist at the Coal and Coke Heritage Center
located at the Fayette campus and is in charge of overseeing the collection,
which includes over 1,200 oral histories on the coal industry. These are
stories of people whose lives were intertwined with the coal industry and
their experiences. Amanda also gives presentations, sets up displays, and
provides outreach for the museum.

Amanda received her Bachelors’ Degree in History at the University of
Pittsburgh in Johnstown and went on to receive a Masters of History at IUP
(Indiana University of Pennsylvania). She was exposed to archiving and
museums while going for her Masters and she decided to go back for a Library
Science degree to make her History Degree more marketable. The decision
definitely paid off!

Amanda lives near Pittsburgh and she and her partner Joe live within walking
distance to the downtown area. She has 2 cats and a dog named Teddy. Teddy is
a two-year-old Border collie/Brittany mix and he keeps Amanda on her toes!
She has also decided to train for a half-marathon this year in Pittsburgh!

Amanda loves working at Penn State and even though she is far from
University Park, she feels that she is still well connected to the main
campus and that her work still matters. Everyone is nice and very accessible.
Penn State has a great network of people and we are fortunate to work here!

Getting To Know You: Yumi Rudy

By: Jen Cywinski and Megan Donnelly

Photo of Yumi Rudy and her 4 children

Yumi and her children, wearing her homemade outfits

Originally from Japan, Yumi Rudy has been a part-time Information Resources and Services Specialist at the Penn State Harrisburg Library since 2016. However, she isn’t new to Penn State! She first worked at Harrisburg’s library in 2003 as a graduate student, where she met her husband Glenn, also a graduate student. She has also worked part-time for Fredricksen Library in Camp Hill for the last 13 years.

Yumi graduated from Soka University in Tokyo with a B.A. in Education and earned her M.A. in American Studies at Penn State Harrisburg. She is also certified to teach the Japanese language to non-Japanese speakers and, along with her husband, translated all of the dialogue from the video game Wachenroder for fun.

Yumi has always been interested in life outside of Japan and in 1996 studied at Oxford University Hartford College for the summer. The next year she spent six months in Tennessee where she learned to make quilts by hand. She says of her experience, “Those two places were very much different. I enjoyed the British atmosphere yet still I loved the southern culture in Tennessee and I felt very much comfortable being there.”

In her free time, Yumi enjoys sewing, knitting, and reading biographies or historical books, particularly about the U.S. Civil War. She’s also considering combining her interests by creating a quilt using Civil War reproduction fabric. You might be wondering how she makes time for work, her husband, her four kids, and her hobbies. The answer is that Yumi wakes at 3 a.m. every morning to enjoy her interests, even when she closed the Harrisburg library at 11 p.m. the previous night!