Staff Spotlight - Introducing Anna Simon, Reference Specialist
Learn more about Himmelfarb Library Staff members. In this issue, we introduce you to Anna Simon, our evening Reference Specialist!
Where are you from, and what brought you to Himmelfarb?
I grew up outside of Philadelphia, but I went to school in Boston. While I was there, I had an internship with my university’s library, which introduced me to the wonderful world of academic libraries. When I moved to DC after college to be closer to family, I found and applied to the open position at Himmelfarb!
Tell us about your current position and what do you do.
I’m the Evening/Weekend Reference specialist. I answer phone, online chat, and in-person questions about everything from our library’s hours, to accessing online resources, to RefWorks nuances, to research strategy! I work with students, faculty and staff to answer their reference questions.
What made you want to work at Himmelfarb?
Hands down, the people here. My colleagues are amazing - I know I’m a librarian person, but these people are exceptionally kind and dedicated to what they do. I also think librarianship attracts people who want to help - so whenever I have a question that I don’t know the answer to, I know I have a team of people who would be glad to figure it out with me. It’s a comforting feeling, knowing that.
What about your job do you enjoy most?
I love helping people. There’s a certain thrill to solving a patron’s puzzle: I get fairly invested in the process and I enjoy being able to provide someone with the answer they were looking for. I also love the incidental reading that goes along with the job -- the other day I found an article for someone and ended up sending it to myself for later because it seemed so interesting! It was about synesthesia.
What has been the biggest challenge?
I’m still getting to know the databases that we subscribe to. There’s more than what’s on our front page: I’ve used PubMed and MEDLINE frequently in the day-to-day searching, but I’m interested in figuring out the little (and not so little) databases that fill in the gaps. Himmelfarb subscribes to 118 databases! That’s a lot to get to know. Recently, if I have a quiet moment, I’ll pick a letter on our databases page and explore all the ones that start with that letter. Last Thursday it was the letter “F”. It took me two days to get through “P”. I feel a little like I’m on Sesame Street sometimes.
Working evenings and weekends, you get a different perspective on life at Himmelfarb. Do you have any interesting or unusual stories about your time here?
I haven’t accumulated any thrilling tales yet, but I always enjoy seeing what we’re 3D printing, because sometimes the prints finish during my shift and I get to see the finished products. I was also surprised by how evening in DC is not “evening” to everyone. I frequently interact with distance education students, many of whom live in California or other timezones. When I’m wrapping up at 8pm, I have to remind myself that for them it’s only 5pm!
What do you like to do in your time away from work? (i.e. hobbies, sports, activities, travel, etc.)
I love to travel, and I have a particular love of mountains that began when I lived in Grenoble, France, in college. Grenoble occupies a plain nestled amongst three mountain ranges, in the French Alps. When I came back to the US, I literally had dreams about being outside and hiking, so I went on a US road trip to 12 national parks. I ended up hiking over 100 miles. I valued the opportunity to see the rest of the country and our mountains - and I am now fully aware of how lush and vibrantly green the east coast is compared to the rest of the country!
These days I try to get outside every weekend, but if it’s a rainy day I also enjoy DC’s museums. Of course, I can also be found devouring a good book and a cup of tea.