I had to make a call this afternoon to 32 people letting them know that a co-worker had passed away today. This co-worker is someone I refer to as the soul of the library. I’ve told my professional colleagues, as recently as last weekend, about him and how he restored my purpose for what I do. Life as a night and weekend circulation staff member is not the most exciting, especially if you have been doing the job for 27 years. But, he loved his job more than anything. He told me countless times how grateful he was to work in our library. He told me several months ago that he approaches his job as not someone who is just checking out study rooms and items to students. He views his job as someone who is helping the next generation of surgeons, nurses, discovers, and doctors in the rural communities. He was able to connect his job to a part of the education of our health care practitioners in a way I had struggled with for years.
I told stories about him last weekend to people when they asked about my new job. I explained how our international students really sought him out for advice. When students graduated, it wasn’t unusual for them to bring their parents to the library to meet Steve. When new international students came to campus they would seek him out because they heard from returning students how helpful he had been to them.
Once a month, I review our reference transaction logs just to get a sense of the type of issues that come up. Steve’s entries were the best — he recorded the questions from people on why the security guards were now dressed like Darth Vader, history of dragons, and why Omaha drivers are so bad.
He is the kindest person I have ever met. And, yes I refuse to use the past tense. Goddammit.