Staff Spotlight - Introducing Laura Abate, Associate Director for Library Operations
Learn more about Himmelfarb Library staff members. In this issue we learn more about Laura Abate, Associate Director for Library Operations.
Share your path to Himmelfarb Library.
I majored in French and linguistics and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do professionally. I ended up working at the University of California, San Francisco in the medical ethics program and learned so much but couldn’t quite see myself as a doctor or a lawyer. Things clicked when I heard about a college friend who had become a librarian and within about a year I was attending the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill for my Master’s in Library and Information Science. After grad school, I worked on a contract for the National Cancer Institute before landing at Himmelfarb Library as a reference librarian.
Tell us about your position at Himmelfarb and what you do.
My current position is Associate Director of Himmelfarb Library which is a relatively new position for me. I spent many years as the Electronic Resources and Instructional Librarian and loved the job. I enjoy teaching and working directly with students and faculty, and also managing the library’s databases and supporting off-campus access to our resources. My current job is working with the Library Operations, Technology & Web Services, and Circulation teams. I’ve only been in this position for about six months and continue to learn from my colleagues.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
I love information tools - databases, e-books, apps, serials, multimedia, etc. - and want our users to have it all! That said, we have a budget and need to spend it to the benefit of our users in the SMHS, SPH, and SON. Figuring out how to support users across the disciplines in a difficult financial landscape is my biggest challenge.
What’s the best part of working at Himmelfarb?
I love the collaboration among staff and seeing the multitude of shared projects and ways staff support one another’s ideas and initiatives. Frequently in staff meetings, someone will describe issues with a project and another person will step forward with ideas and solutions.
What jobs have you held previously that prepared you for your work at Himmelfarb?
I grew up learning about my parents’ business; my father is a veterinarian and my mom managed the finances for their veterinary practice and farm and ranch operations. I learned a lot of medical terminology that way (zoonosis is still a favorite word) and also learned some about the financial side. In high school and college, I had several retail jobs which taught me a lot about customer service. At UCSF, I learned about listening carefully and trying to understand a problem from multiple perspectives, and at GW, I’ve watched how people lead and have had wonderful role models.
What do you like to do in your time away from work?
I like to sew, work in my garden, and cook as well as just hang out with my husband and daughters. Over the summer, I started a list of fifty things that I’ve always wanted to do but never quite did. While I hope to visit Iceland, Ireland, and Italy someday, my current list is of much more accessible goals. I’ve already checked off growing giant sunflowers, making paella, and adopting a puppy. Meet George who came home in September 2020!
Where are you from originally, and what brought you to the DC area?
I’m originally from Los Osos, California. My husband grew up in DC and we came here for just one year...more than twenty years ago. At the time, I was very focused on moving back to California and never pictured that I would like living here - but I do!