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The ins and outs of the college library’s circulation desk

1Donna_NortheyByBradBakke-May 30, 2013By Joshua Helbert

Working at the Chemeketa Community College Library’s circulation desk may seem like a thankless job.  But that’s not true for Donna Northey, one of the college’s library assistants. For her, the job is full of excitement and rewards.  ”I really enjoy working here because of all my colleagues, and I am also a lifelong learner. Seeing new books interests me to read them,” Northey said. Northey started working in the Media Center that was constructed in Bldg. 2 and didn’t become part of the library operation until the construction of Bldg. 9.”I started work with the Chemeketa library in 1991 and have been an assistant the whole time,” she said.Early in the day, the campus is busy accommodating eager students. Chief among those initial tasks: filling coffee cups.

The stillness of the library has yet to be disturbed by the crush of students. But they line up outside, waiting to study, read, use the computers, and take advantage of the expertise in the Writing Center.

On this day, Northey aids a student, Brandy Rodriguez, in locating a reserve item for a pending term paper. It’s a simple request, one that she has handled dozens of times. It takes her two minutes to satisfy the student’s needs. ”I try and be as helpful as possible; our goal is to help the student succeed,” Northey said. For her part, Rodriguez indicates that she is happy with the help she received on this day.

“She was helpful and knew exactly where to look for the information I needed,” Rodriguez said of Northey. “It was definitely a time-saver asking her, and now I can get a good grade on my paper.”   With no pressing issues, Northey continues her daily tasks of helping students and patrons with their everyday needs.  But things change, and quickly, when the students begin to gather around the circulation desk, requesting help.

“When it gets busy, we will always call more people over to help. We like to keep our lines under five students long,” Northey said.Northey said that she was drawn to the position because it promoted knowledge. Her position also acts as a guide to help more than just students because Chemeketa’s library is open to the public. She will often show guests ways to look up important information or provide them with a quiet place to study.  Northey doesn’t just view her work as a job. She said that she also enjoyed the public interaction it brought.

“Part of our job is to help students become responsible by having their student ID or library card. If they don’t have either form of ID, then they won’t be able to check out any books or use the computers,” she said.Northey also plays a role in helping students find scholarships that fit their needs. In between the time spent helping find class materials, she also helps students find potential monetary support so that they can focus on schoolwork.

Students and staff alike agree that Northey demonstrates a daily love for her profession.

Sue Ryan, for example, had positive things to say about Northey.

“She definitely loves her job. She really tries her best to help the students and does everything possible. She goes above and beyond what the jobs asks and is truly genuine about it,” Ryan said.  Northey in turn gives a great deal of praise to the instructors at Chemeketa for what they do behind the scenes for their students.

“Many students may not be aware that textbooks are only available when professors donate the resource. Teachers go out of their way to ensure the success of their students here at Chemeketa and often purchase these books with their own money,” she said.  These textbooks are available for a two-hour check out.

“This time limit allows many students the opportunity to build upon their knowledge base and [allows] as many students as possible to access the materials,” Northey said.  If you ever find yourself in need of finding a scholarly article or a pleasure read, call the library at 503-399-5043, or go see Donna Northey and the rest of the staff in Bldg 2.

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