How did you get from a small-town dairy farm to becoming the director of the Salzmann Library?
Well, I grew up on a dairy farm, but my dad sold the cows when I was 4, so I never did too much with dairy farming. I started at MSOE for software engineering, and after a couple of years, I switched to history because I just really wanted to study something I liked. After I got my history degree, I went to Marquette for historical theology, and while I was there, I got a job as a student worker in the library. On my current track, I couldn’t really see an end in sight for when I would stop paying schools to learn and they would start paying me to teach, so I switched to library and information sciences. That way, I could still be around books and the academic world but helping out from the library standpoint.
What are your passions outside of books and theology?
It’s definitely changed now because I have a lot of family time, which is good. But I love to golf and I love to bowl; I stay in a bowling league one night a week. The kids actually do like to go bowling for a game or two, so it’s become a fun family thing to do.
What’s the best game you’ve ever bowled?
I’ve bowled a 256 twice.
What do you love about working at the Salzmann Library?
I love knowing that I’m helping seminarians with their academic career, and helping them to become priests, but I also love being able to help patrons grow in their faith, whether it’s pastoral leaders at their parishes getting the resources they need to help the people they work with, or whether it’s patrons coming in looking for spiritual works. It’s a really fulfilling part of my job.
Is there anything about your job that you think would surprise people?
We don’t mind people coming in and talking to us. A library doesn’t have to be silent. The concept of a library is definitely changing in terms of helping with online access to materials and resources. We’re still very much in the physical book world, and I’m glad of that, but libraries aren’t just about books; they’re about information, and how to connect patrons to the information they want, wherever it may be.
These are exciting times for the library — reopening to the public after offering curbside pickup for the last 16 months during COVID. What was that like for you and the staff?
It was very different. It was much quieter at times. The seminarians were around more because they didn’t go to Sacred Heart (School of Theology, where they have academic classes) as much. It was nice seeing them, but it was definitely different not having the contact with people coming in and out. If people had different projects or topics they wanted to research, instead of pointing them in the right direction, (librarian assistant) Marijo (Zielinski) and I would find the books for them. In a way, it was interesting getting to know more about the kind of books people are looking for.
What do you want people to know about the Salzmann Library?
What I really want is for more pastoral and lay leadership in the Church to know that we have the resources to help them. We have children’s resources to help youth groups, we have spirituality books and CDs, and DVDs for everyday parishioners — we have everything. If you’re interested in the topic, we’ll have something on it.
Since you’re a librarian, I have to ask you — what’s your favorite book? And I’ll be shocked if you only have one.
I can’t decide between these three. One is “The Legend of Huma” by Richard A. Knaak. I read it in fourth grade, and it introduced me to the world of fantasy literature. The other one is a historical novel called “The Walking Drum” by Louis L’Amour. He was my dad’s favorite author. It’s a book set in 12th century Europe and the Middle East, and it just opened my eyes to medieval history. The third one is “The Fourth Part of the World” by Toby Lester. It starts with the premise of the Waldseemüller map, which was drawn by a German cartographer, and it was the first time America was ever put on a map — and he expands it to travel and exploration from the ninth century on.