STAFF SPOTLIGHT: Meet Rhonda, Access Services Assistant

Ever wonder who makes sure that your InterLibrary Loan requests for books and articles get fulfilled so quickly? You can thank Rhonda in the Access Services department for that!

We sat down with Rhonda to learn a little bit about her past experience before joining the world of libraries, why she enjoys working at Gutman, and what she likes to do in her free time.

What is your title and can you tell us a little bit about your role at the Gutman Library?
Hello Everyone! I am the Access Services Assistant here at Gutman Library. Basically, I am the person who gets the books for you through Interlibrary Loan and the person you usually see running around the library like a chicken with my head cut off! I am mostly at the circulation desk answering any questions or concerns you may have. Whether that’s letting you know how long we are open, clearing printer jams if needed, or doing whatever else is needed to be of service!

When did you start working here?
I started in February 2020.

Wow, so you began right before the pandemic! What was that experience like, and are you happy now that students and staff are back on campus?
It was a little scary since I was only in the building for about five weeks before everything was shut down. It was a bit daunting learning at home about my job but I feel like I gained a stronger mental fortitude because of it. I am so incredibly happy that students and staff are back on campus! I developed a rapport with so many people during quarantine that it was the best experience ever when I could start placing faces to these names I interacted with on a daily basis.

Can you tell us a little bit about your previous job before getting into the library field? What did you do and what made you interested in working in the library setting?
I have my bachelors in Social Work and a Masters in Counseling Psychology. I previously worked in the Social Services field, mostly providing support to survivors of Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, working with families in the Philadelphia Housing Authority, and counseling High schoolers.  However, social services takes a heavy toll on your mental health and I felt myself burning out. I did not feel it was ethical to provide support to someone if I was not there to fully give myself to them. I decided to take a break and begin volunteering at my local library. I also enjoyed going to the library as a child and it was not until I was older that I realized you could have a career working in libraries. I decided to continue volunteering until I was hired there and eventually found myself at Thomas Jefferson University!

What’s your favorite part about working in the library and Thomas Jefferson University?
Honestly, and this may sound cheesy, I really enjoy interacting with students, faculty, and staff on campus. It does my heart good when I am able to answer a question or help someone in any way, no matter how small it is. Seeing the gratitude and smiles on everyone’s face really keeps me going because I know that just that small act of kindness from me can really make a person’s day. Also, I love the books. Books are just so magical since they hold so much knowledge and history, especially our older bound journals downstairs. You can just see how much they’ve been through and seen so much over the years. I enjoy being able to interact with the older items since I am taken back to that time, and it’s the coolest thing to know that I am touching something that is decades, sometimes a century, older than I am. So, if you ever see me talking to them, simply pay me no mind. Ha!

When you’re not working at Gutman, how do you like to spend your time?
I am a huge nerd, so I will either spend my time playing video games, watching anime or Star Trek, or reading comics. I also thoroughly enjoy to cook so when I have some down time, I like to try different recipes. When I am not doing any of those things, then I engage in my guilty pleasure of watching trashy reality TV.