Student library employees are a crucial part of what makes the University of Iowa Libraries such a valuable, accessible resource for the community on campus and beyond. We’re grateful that these dedicated students make time alongside their classes to work with us, directing users to needed resources, caring for materials, and contributing their ideas to guide the UI Libraries into tomorrow.
For the 2023-2024 academic year, 13 undergraduate student employees have been awarded scholarships in recognition of their work. We’re proud to celebrate and learn from them all as they share how their time in the UI Libraries has influenced their interests, wellbeing, and approach to the future.
Cassidy Hibbert has been awarded the Judy and Mike Greer Scholarship in Memory of Mary E. Greer. Originally from Perry, Iowa, Hibbert is passionate about her work at the Main Library, particularly because it has helped her feel a sense of belonging as a first-generation student.
“I have had wonderful conversations about medieval sanitation and the tale of King Arthur with one of the student research assistants, and I’ve bonded over art and poetry with one of the women I work with. I feel like I fit into the Main Library so well, and connecting with my coworkers over shared interests has helped me transition into college life.”
Alyssa Lemay, a statistics and mathematics major from Sussex, Wisconsin, has been awarded a Judy and Mike Greer Scholarship in Memory of Mary E. Greer. At her job at the Main Library’s circulation desk, Lemay enjoys applying her problem-solving skills to tracking down the right resources for library users.
“Being able to work and communicate with a diverse range of people is the first step in creating an inclusive environment—and working at the library helps me practice those skills every day. Through the combination of knowing information and communicating it effectively to a wide range of people, I have begun my journey in making the university an inclusive place for all people to feel like they belong and can succeed.”
Maya St. Clair,a music therapy student from Ankeny, Iowa, was selected to receive a Benton Music Library Student Employee Scholarship. St. Clair is a fan of her early-morning shifts at the Rita Benton Music Library, when she has the chance to practice her organizational and communication skills.
“I love watching people light up when they get to talk about what they are studying. I have yet to meet someone at the Rita Benton Music Library who does not absolutely love what they are studying. Hearing excitement about composers, performances, competitions, and other opportunities boosts my excitement about music and my potential.”
Leah Kaminsky of North Liberty, Iowa, is a vocal performance major and recipient of the Benton Music Library Student Employee Scholarship for her work at the Rita Benton Music Library. Kaminsky says she looks forward to her shifts because of the library’s wealth of resources and its friendly team.
“The staff and peers I have gotten to meet and work with over my time have been so kind and welcoming and have become really amazing friends and colleagues of mine. I am beyond grateful for that.”
Olivia Comer is a communications major pursuing certificates in event management and leadership studies. Comer, who comes from Indianola, Iowa, has been awarded a Bentz Family Student Employee Scholarship, and enjoys helping users at the Main Library’s circulation desk feel comfortable and confident in the space.
“The empowerment of patrons is honestly the most rewarding part of my job. I find it personally fulfilling to be a part of the reason that someone comes to the library and uses our spaces and resources.”
Ana Koch of the Pomerantz Business Library was awarded a Bentz Family Student Employee Scholarship. Originally from Iowa City, Koch is in her third year at the UI College of Nursing. She appreciates the lively atmosphere of the business library, which is located in Biz Hub at the Tippie College of Business, and the congeniality of its visitors, which creates a sense of community.
“I speak with professors and graduate students about their course readings. I also make small talk with the baristas at Pat’s Too. The library staff and I celebrate events with food and small gatherings. And most importantly, I have the pleasure of assisting students with any type of problem they encounter.”
Kenna Prottsman is majoring in English and creative writing and was awarded a Bentz Family Student Employee Scholarship for her work at the Art Library. From Iowa City, she finds peace and contemplation in her job, and is moved by the kindness of the library’s users and the serenity of the space.
“We, as humans, unfold ourselves in spaces where our minds can flop about as needed. I theorize that this is why the library hosts so much unfolding. It is a safe place of choice – no one is there by obligation.”
Ruby Miller, a criminology and creative writing student from Iowa City, finds inspiration in her work at the Art Library. She’s been chosen to receive a Bentz Family Student Employee Scholarship. She admires the commitment and creativity of the students and faculty who spend time in the Art Library.
“The names in the laminated covers by the carrels have changed. Artists have moved on, and new ones have just reached the start of their careers. A thesis is in the works, after a few of the regulars check out more than eight books at a time. I wonder what they study, and how they are so committed.”
Elizabeth Ayers is pursuing an English and creative writing major and an undergraduate-to-graduate track at the UI School of Library and Information Science. She’s from Iowa City says her time working in Conservation and Collections Care solidified her resolve to study library and information science, and she appreciates her team’s receptiveness to her ideas. She received a UI Libraries Student Employee Scholarship.
“Having my opinions taken seriously makes me feel like a valued member of the team, and I hope to promote others in the same way. Whether by congratulating a coworker on a promotion, or simply complimenting their new haircut, I strive to make everyone feel they belong in the library.”
Courtney Dage of Bloomington, Illinois, is pursuing a major in global health studies and will begin her master’s program in public health at the university in the fall. She was selected to receive a UI Libraries Student Employee Scholarship. Her serendipitous interactions with library users at the Main Library have been a source of connection and community.
“I truly do feel as though my horizons have been expanded due to conversations with library patrons whether that be about important world issues or just life lessons in general which is why my work has left such an impact on me.”
Adam Holmes has been awarded a UI Libraries Student Employee Scholarship for his contributions to the Lichtenberger Engineering Library. Originally from Iowa City, Holmes is a mechanical engineering major who recently added an art minor, a choice he attributes in part to the architectural materials he’s encountered in his job.
“My time at the Engineering Library has not only strengthened my appreciation for the multitude of services and programs we offer, but it’s also helped me to embrace change, seize opportunities, and craft a flexible and dynamic path forward for my life.”
Juliann Pawlowski comes to the university from Plainfield, Illinois, and is pursuing a biomedical engineering major and an informatics minor. She received a UI Libraries Student Employee Scholarship for her work at the Sciences Library, where she says her coworkers and manager have fostered a welcoming and friendly environment.
“This job has had a massive impact on me. I truly do not believe I could see myself working anywhere else due to the amount of support from not only the students in the same spot as I am, but also the staff.”
Angeles Pineda is an informatics major with a minor in dance from Chicago. Pineda was selected to receive a UI Libraries Student Employee Scholarship for her work at the Lichtenberger Engineering Library. She says the experience helped her adjust to life in a new place, as well as build her confidence as a first-generation student.
“My supervisors and coworkers did a great job in making me feel welcome in the workplace. This was as simple as asking me how my day was going or helping me better understand my physics homework.”