Spring 1997

Now you see them, now you don't: the Reading Room's student assistants

Visitors to the Reading Room of Books Division frequently find smiling young faces behind the desk. When they return later the young people are nowhere to be seen. Who are these men and women manning the desk at irregular intervals? They are our valuable student assistants, who perform innumerable tasks to make patron visits more productive and enjoyable.

A fascination for books and libraries makes Anand Gurumoorthy a perfect match with the South Caroliniana. As he states it "the historical nature and contents of this library have bred in me an awareness of America's amazing and glorious heritage." Anand is the graduate student responsible for filling most of our photoduplication orders. A real whiz with the microfilm reader/printer, he also carefully photocopies manuscripts and books from upstairs and down. A native of Tirunelveli, a small town in Southern India, Anand went to school there and in Bombay. He completed his undergraduate studies in electrical engineering at the Central Electrochemical Research Institute, a national laboratory in South India. Anand entered the chemical engineering graduate studies program at the University of South Carolina in the spring of 1995, switching to computer engineering last Fall. He hopes to apply his graduate training in the specialized areas of chemical process stimulation and computer-based chemical control systems by obtaining a dual degree in both chemistry and computer engineering. Anand will be leaving the Caroliniana to pursue a doctorate degree in chemical engineering at the University of Houston.

Denise Marie Barcomb, originally from Derby, Connecticut, but a resident of Spartanburg for the last five years, assists Mae Jones in processing new books, typing the neat labels you find on our materials, making phase boxes to preserve books, and replacing pamphlet and small item enclosures with archival mylar envelopes. In addition to these duties, she helps patrons at the desk and reshelves books. During her freshman year at Converse College, she worked in the college library. Denise transferred to USC this fall as a sophomore and immediately began working at the Caroliniana. Majoring in English, she hopes to attend graduate school in library and information science. She says working "gives me extra experience with a non-circulating library as well as with other duties."

Aimee Berry is from Neeses, a small town in Orangeburg County. Currently an Honors College senior, she is majoring in anthropology with her special interest being historical anthropology. Her minor is history, focusing on South Carolina history, and her senior thesis topic is the oral history of Neeses. Following graduation in May, Aimee hopes to enter graduate school in the Applied History Program. She is vitally interested in helping the people in Neeses and Orangeburg County learn about and preserve their past, and is excited that the county will be a part of the Heritage Corridor. Aimee assists Dr. Tom Johnson with the vertical files, photocopying, and numerous other tasks. She says " I enjoy working with the letters and papers of famous South Carolinians that I had previously only read about." Aimee can be seen in and about the Reading Room most days, at the photocopy machines, and on the desk one Saturday a month.

Although born in Washington, D.C., William David Fetty known as Billy, is almost a native of Columbia since he has lived in the city for 12 years. While attending St. Andrew's Middle School, he participated in National History Day, researching his topic at the Library of Congress. Billy graduated from Columbia High in 1995, entered USC and began working at the Caroliniana, where he serves on the desk, reshelves books, and helps with the photocopy orders. His assistance on projects is especially noteworthy, recently compiling a list of the city directories in our holdings as well as doing the title searching for a large book collection. Billy likes the "pressure free atmosphere of the South Caroliniana, being able to know everyone I work with, and feeling a better sense of my own value because I can help patrons."

Now that you have met our able assistants in the Books Division, please do speak to them when you are in the library. Each Saturday a month finds one of the four on duty. But their other hours are scattered throughout the week day, which is one reason why you see them, then you don't. But they are here daily, each doing their jobs well. We are lucky to have such congenial, able assistants and hope that you will get to know them even better.

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