Doing my job

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May 31, 2004 // UPDATED 1:49 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Ong

Renee Reed

Librarian at Central Library Marquette, 250 Marquette Ave.

Renee Reed -- like the librarian stereotype -- is an introvert.

"But I feel it's easy for me to be an extrovert when talking about libraries," said Reed, a patron services manager at the interim Downtown library, 250 Marquette Ave.

One of three patron services managers, Reed works with the fine arts, history, social science, periodicals and special collections. She manages and works with patron services employees to answer any reference questions.

"People ask all kinds of questions. Just about every type of question you can imagine and then some," Reed said.

In particular, she remembers one person who asked about the history of chess and the origins of the game pieces.

However, Reed said about 25 percent of library staff positions have been cut in the last year while service requests have not significantly declined.

"I feel extremely challenged, but I tend to thrive with challenge," Reed said. "We do have to find ingenious ways to be as efficient and productive as possible."

The staff has been dedicated and determined to provide as many services as possible, despite reduced library hours and workers having more responsibilities. For example, workers continue to create resource lists for library patrons and have even helped obtain grant money to maintain programs such as the summer reading program for children.

Nevertheless, Reed's passion for libraries and her job remain strong.

After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature at Northfield's Carleton College, Reed went to graduate school to study library sciences at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Since June 1980, she has worked with the Minneapolis library system.

Reed said libraries embrace everyone and allow people to educate themselves in a safe environment. She said people from all walks of life can "explore and discover, from preschool to the last days of their lives" and that libraries are a common meeting ground.

While speaking about her job, Reed said it was important for her to identify herself as an African American woman. She said accepting all people -- "a teen with orange hair, an 85-year-old with a walker, a faculty member at the University of Minnesota or a child with a non-English-speaking parent" -- is part of her job, and it fits her values.

"I don't think we should look at other cultures with fear," Reed said. "I think because of the circumstances we're finding ourselves in [war and terrorism], it would be beneficial for people all over the world to educate themselves about other people."

However, Reed said people don't always interact because of television and computer usage. Although she believes computers are valuable tools in accessing information, she said human interaction is important.

"It's a great place for people to come together. The library can provide so much," Reed said.

"Being a librarian is near to my heart. I place tremendous value in what we do on a day-to-day basis."