Library Assistant Develops Student Exhibition Cases in Olin’s Basement

Cheryl-Ann Hagner, library assistant for Special Collections and Archives and coordinator of the Friends of the Wesleyan Library, sorts through a card catalog inside the archives.
Posted 07/13/.05
Q: How is your summer going so far here at Olin? Do you miss the students?

A: Summer in the library is quiet. I miss the interaction with students and the energy they bring to campus, but it is nice to have time to catch up on projects that had to be put on hold during the busy semester.

Q: How many years have you worked at Wesleyan?

A: I’ve been at Wesleyan for four years.

Q: What is your educational background, or what led you into working here?

A: I have a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. Before I went to graduate school I taught high school English, did editorial work for several publishing companies, and owned a small bookstore. After graduate school I worked as a family therapist. Then I took some time off to be home with my newborn son. When I re-joined the work force, I looked for a position that would combine my interests in people and books. This position is a nice convergence.

Q: What are your thoughts on Olin Library?

: Olin Library is a beautiful and rich resource in the grand tradition of libraries. It is a significant part of Wesleyan and academic life. The demands of the evolving information age require that it change with the times and people here are working hard to do that.

Q: What are some of your job duties?

A: I split my time between the busy Special Collections office, supervising student workers and helping patrons, and developing the Friends of the Wesleyan Library organization. I am also responsible for the exhibition cases in the basement level of Olin Library.

Q: I hadn’t realized there were displays in the basement.

A: With the generous support of the library office for special lighting to highlight the exhibition cases, I developed this space for the display of student art not related to a class or grade.

Q: What do the Friends of the Wesleyan Library do?

A: Officially the mission of the Friends is to enhance, preserve and support the assets of the Wesleyan Library. We sponsor programs and events, fund the library newsletter, and raise money for special projects that are not covered by the library budget.

Q: And you organize events for this?

A: Yes. Last year I organized two events. One was a screening of the independent documentary film “Stone Reader” in the new Center for Film Studies followed by a question and answer session with the filmmaker and the author of the book who was the subject of the film, and a slide show and talk by Richard Gutman, author of “American Diners Then and Now.”

Q: What can we look for this fall?

A: We will be collaborating with Classical Studies to host a lecture by David Sider. We are also planning a book sale for the spring of 2006.

Q: Do you have a personal interest in Wesleyan’s historical collections?

A: I had not been exposed to artists’ books before I came to Wesleyan. Special Collections has a growing collection. Book artists and dealers from around the country visit us during the year to show us their work. I enjoy looking at the unique and beautiful ways artists communicate through these non-traditional books. I was recently so taken with a collection of haiku poems, letterpress printed on beautiful paper by Terri Tibbatts, that I bought a copy for myself. A special present.

Q: Do you miss working in the mental health field?

A: I did an internship with Lisa Currie, the director of WesWELL, so I could learn first hand the health issues many college students struggle with. Students I know well have talked to me about their issues and I offer support. I organized a collaboration between Special Collections and WesWELL called “The Body and The Book” during which Suzy Taraba displayed and talked about some of the artists’ books in our collection that deal with body image and mental and emotional distress.

Q: What is your favorite book or type of reading material?

A: I read a lot of contemporary fiction and non-fiction books, especially those by women writers.

Q: What are some of your hobbies or interests?

A: I enjoy ballroom dancing and dance weekly at a dance studio on the shoreline. I also dance at Wesleyan when ballroom dance class is offered at lunch time through the Freeman Athletic Center. The class is low key and fun, but we need more men in it to balance the lead and follow.

Q: Where does your family live?

A: I’ve lived in Guilford for 15 years with my husband Will, our son Skyler, and our poodle Marley.

Q: I understand there’s something unique about your home.

A: Our house was originally built as a chicken coop on a large farm. In the 1950s it was converted into a dog kennel; the previous owner raised Golden Retrievers there. We bought it in 1990 as a barely inhabitable dwelling and have completely renovated and added to it. We tried to maintain some of the integrity of the original chicken coop, though from the outside it no longer resembles one. 

Q: What does the interior look like?

A: On the inside, the chicken coop area is now the kitchen and dining rooms. They have the original low-pitched asymmetrical ceilings. It’s kind of funky and a little challenging for tall people. Our renovations have been with energy conservation in mind and last year we converted to a geo-thermal heating and cooling system. It’s a wonderful place to live.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor