This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published October 6, 2021
Sam Richardson is a first-generation college graduate, though it didn’t always look like college would be her path. After graduating from Bristol Central High School in 1994, Sam got a job in health insurance that took her to New Orleans and then San Diego.
With an interest in interior design, she worked at several firms from 2004 to 2006, but then decided to do medical billing from home. Sam decided to attend San Diego State University to study English with a minor in Spanish with the thoughts of becoming an ESL teacher. In 2011, while in college, she took a job as a library aide as the San Diego Public Library.
“When I graduated, I was trying to decide what to do and looked around and realized I really loved working at the library,” says Sam. “As a library aide, I loved putting everything in order.”
Wanting to further her career in library science, Sam decided to pursue her master’s through an online program with San Jose State University. Though Sam hadn’t set out with a goal of becoming a librarian, she has always had a love of books, reading, and organization.
“I didn’t know I wanted to be librarian, but it makes sense when I think back to when I was young,” says Sam. “In middle school, I always loved hanging out in library with friends in the afternoon. It makes perfect sense, but it’s not something I ever understood I could be.”
Sam was hired as the technical services librarian at the North Haven Memorial Library in March 2021, but she has had quite the “circuitous route” to return to her home state of Connecticut. During her time in California, she also worked at San Diego County Library and Chula Vista Public Library.
When Sam decided to pursue her master’s degree, she moved back to Connecticut, living here in 2014 and 2015. While earning her degree, Sam worked at the Cheshire Public Library.
Sam then decided to return to the West Coast and reapplied to the San Diego Public Library, where she was hired as a library assistant and worked her way up to librarian. Sam’s last position in San Diego saw her working in the library’s “maker space.” Through that position, Sam began to pick up new hobbies.
“We had sewing machines, so I decided to learn to sew by taking classes at the Continuing Education Center,” says Sam, who has always had an interest in design. “The classes were in-person, but then COVID hit and I took three of them online. I’ve been sewing ever since.”
The combination of the effects of COVID and the fact that her parents weren’t in good health inspired Sam to move back to her home state. While she enjoyed working in the maker space and learning new things, that wasn’t where her passion was in library science.
Back in her hometown of Berlin, she saw a posting for a technical services librarian in North Haven. Though it was exactly the kind of position she was looking for, she was wary of the distance.
“My previous supervisor from Cheshire encouraged me to apply,” says Sam. “I was super excited when I got offer. I feel like this is what I was meant to be doing.”
Sam recently moved to Hamden to cut down on her commute time and she is getting to know the area. She and her dog take two walks a day, rain or shine. Sam also enjoys hiking, visiting local breweries, and traveling.
As the technical services librarian, Sam enters every book that comes into the North Haven Memorial Library into the catalog and creates records, allowing librarians and patrons to find books by call number, author, title, or subject.
“I’ve always been fascinated with patterns and organization and cataloging allows you to do that,” says Sam. “Plus you get to touch every single book that comes into the library—opening the boxes, taking out the books, cataloging the books. You know exactly what’s in the collection. It’s a dream job for anyone who loves to read.”
Sam has always been an avid reader and loves non-fiction such as memoirs, self-improvement, and skill development books—she is currently learning block-printing. Sam’s favorite Dewey Decimal classification numbers are the 150s (Psychology), 300s (Social Sciences), 610s (Medicine & Health), 646 (Sewing, Clothing, and Management of Personal and Family Life), and 917.46 (Connecticut Travel Guides).
Though libraries are organized by Dewey Decimal classifications, Sam has found that each library is unique in the way it organizes books and materials. Having started just six months ago, she is still becoming familiar with the collection.
“The children’s section is usually the most complicated because some are alphabetical by author, some are by subjects, so I look at each and determine where it goes,” says Sam. “I work closely with the children’s librarian all the time because she has a better idea on it and has been here longer. I’m learning how the library is organized and how the librarian for each department thinks. I love the staff here. It’s a small group that works really well together and our skills complement one another.”
In addition to cataloging, Sam also works at the public service desk, information desk, or circulation desk. Even though the library only reopened to full service in the past few months, she has been enjoying getting to know the community, which she has found much easier than in San Diego, which was so large.
“I really like this community and every one is so friendly and nice,” says Sam. “I’m already getting to recognize our regular patrons. I love helping people use technology and find books. I like problem-solving. Every question is different and I don’t always know the answer, but can help problem-solve to find the answer.”