I’m lucky to work at the library for many reasons, and one of those is that my employment here introduced me to my dear friend and colleague, Erica Messmer. I’m sure our regular customers have enjoyed many pleasant conversations with Erica at the first-floor Checkout Desk. Erica is a smart, ambitious, hard-working, and exceptionally competent member of the Lending Services team. When I work a shift with her, I always feel completely at ease, because I know she’s got my back — and because I know the day will be full of laughs!
What are your duties here at the library? How long have you worked at the library, and what was your first job here?
I have been working at the Princeton Public Library for a little over three years. I was originally hired as a shelving assistant, but transitioned into the role of library assistant almost two years ago. On an average day, you can usually find me working at the Lending Desk, in the back office doing data entry for Lending Services or the Development Office, or out on the floor shelving.
What’s your favorite thing about working at the library?
My favorite thing about the library is definitely our customers. Princeton is home to a diverse community and people from many different professional backgrounds, which always leads to fun and interesting conversations. I love that you can easily tell how much our customers love the library; it makes me feel like we’re an important part of the community.
Did you go to the library a lot as a kid? Do you have any fond library memories from that time in your life?
I was always there. I was lucky to grow up in Blairstown, New Jersey, where we had a wonderful library. When I was little, I accidentally left one of my favorite photos of my brother and me in a book I returned. One of the librarians found it and saved it to return to me. Even though it was a small gesture, it made me feel appreciated as a customer. I hope that I’ve been able to give that same feeling to our customers here at PPL.
Fun fact: The Blairstown Library has an interesting history. Until 1995, it was located in the 200-year old grist mill on Main Street. It was also one of the filming locations for the original “Friday the 13th.”
What book that you read as a kid has stuck with you and helped make you the person you are today?
I read Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary” when I was 10 or 11 years old and it really sparked my interest in horror and the supernatural. I became obsessed with all things spooky and the science behind them — is spontaneous human combustion real? What about Bigfoot? This reading experience helped me become inquisitive, but skeptical; willing to explore possibilities but not without some kind of scientific back-up.
When you’re not working at the library, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I am obsessed with my car so I’m always up for a spontaneous road trip. I’m willing to drive embarrassingly far distances with my friends to try fun, new vegan food. Now that I have a dog, I spend a lot of my free time outside, either hiking or looking for squirrels at the park. At night, I’m usually curled up on the couch knitting with my cats.
You have four seriously cute pets at home. Tell us about them. Also, thank you for sharing these adorable photos with us. We can all always use more cute animal photos!
I have three cats. Toby is my big orange tabby and the love of my life. He is one of the best-natured cats I’ve ever known. Trips to the beach, flying on an airplane, scary trips to the cardiologist — nothing fazes him. Minnie and Sam are my brown tabbies. Minnie loves everyone and just wants nothing more than to be brushed forever. Sam is the troublemaker of the group, but he’s also the sweetest.
Lou is the newest addition to my family. He is a retired racing greyhound, and such a wonderful dog. Lou came to us straight from the track, so he needed to learn everything. Toys and cats were things he had never known before; learning the stairs took months. Watching him come out of his shell and become a “real dog” has been an awesome and rewarding experience.
Have you read any good books lately? Or discovered any good movies or TV shows that you could recommend to our customers?
I love short stories, so it would make sense that one of my favorite recent reads was “Uncommon Type” by Tom Hanks. I really enjoyed the classic American short story feeling that they had.
Sticking with short stories, my current favorite show is the science fiction anthology series “Black Mirror.” Each episode takes a dark, and usually creepy, look at the consequences of modern technology.
Before working at the library, what was the most interesting or weirdest job you had?
My most interesting job was probably working as an apartment manager when I lived in Oregon. The things people would leave behind were intriguing and sometimes unsettling. Finding sea urchins in the garbage disposal might top the list!
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about the Princeton Public Library? Is there a service we provide that you think deserves more attention, or that you just particularly like?
I am a huge fan of our museum pass program. Most of our passes admit multiple guests for free, so it’s possible to take an inexpensive day trip with a car full of people. Philly, in particular, is one of my favorite places to visit, and I’m really excited that we’ve added the Mütter Museum to our museum list!
And now for some fun lightning-round questions to wrap things up:
Fiction or non-fiction? Non-fiction
Horror or comedy? Horror
Wawa or Quick Chek? Wawa
Online shopping or in-person shopping? In-person
Batman or Superman? Batman
Chipotle or Qdoba? Chipotle
Gummi bears or white chocolate M&Ms? Gummi bears
Thank you so much for your wonderful answers, Erica. And to our customers, please don’t hesitate to stop by the first-floor Checkout Desk and say hi to Erica the next time you visit the library!
Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 – Erica Messmer | 4 | 6
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