Pratt Profile: Patrick Joust

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Patrick JoustYour name?
Patrick Joust

Your age?

Your local branch?
Central Library

Your favorite spot in the library?
The roof... It's nothing especially exciting, it's just the roof, but I like high and airy spaces.

What are you currently reading?
Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think by George Lakoff.

What book would you recommend to readers right now, and why?
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It's a large Russian novel, which makes it intimidating from the start, but this book somehow manages to cover most of the basic philosophical questions behind human existence and behavior. There's some heavy stuff in it, for sure, but it's also humorous and surprisingly accessible for something written in the 19th century. I've read it twice (the Andrew R. MacAndrew translation/Bantam Classics edition), but it's been a few years, so I'd love to read it again in full sometime in the next year. A fellow librarian introduced me to the Larissa Volokhonsky and Richard Pevear translation. I've read a few sections and I've been very impressed.

In addition to being a librarian, I'm also a photographer. One book that I've found especially inspiring is Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, which was published to coincide with a retrospective of Frank's work. What I like most about the book, and the exhibition, was the emphasis on process, particularly editing. Editing is a difficult skill to master, but something that anyone interested in photography should explore. While this book is by no means instructional, I found the description of Frank's editing process interesting and useful.

What is one book you could not finish, and why?
I'm a huge fan of the work of Haruki Murakami, but I found myself getting bogged down in his newest book 1Q84. The crazy thing is that I'm actually only 50 pages from the end. I'm reluctant to criticize the work itself. I found myself fully engaged for most of it, in much the same way as I have with his other books, but I found myself wanting to read something new after a while. I've read just about everything Murakami's written, that has been translated or written in English, so I know I'll get through those last 50 pages at some point, but now I need to go back further in order to re-immerse myself in his universe.

What are your job title and location?
Librarian, Information Services Department (Central Library)

What does your job entail?
Information Services is kind of a catch all department for the whole library. It's a fun place to work because it allows me to do a lot of different activities throughout the day. I answer questions through our Telephone Reference Service and Maryland AskUsNow, but you can also find me in the Public Computer Center helping people out with job applications, resumes, etc. I also manage the computer class program at Central in which I, along with other instructors in my department, typically teach 15 to 20 sessions per month on anything from basic computer skills (Intro to Computers, Intro to Windows) to how to use the Microsoft Office Suite as well as classes on how to edit and manage digital photos.

Describe your typical workday:
A great thing about my job is that it's never typical. I can be working throughout the building at any given time, but I almost always have a few hours of reference work in which just about any kind of question may be asked. I'm also often spending time doing some kind of instruction and/or developing/improving class curriculum.

Describe up to three things you like about working in the library:
I like the fact that it's a place where anyone can go to pursue a whole range of interests, whether for education, entertainment or workforce development. Enoch Pratt is truly a public library where you can do just about anything you want and it's great to work in an environment that supports that. I also enjoy my colleagues who have a variety of backgrounds and interests and from whom I've learned a great deal over the last 7 years. Above all, I enjoy working with the diverse group of patrons that come to the library in person or virtually, everyday. I love being able to help someone get through a few humps in their job application process so that they can achieve success. I also really enjoy the learning environment in which I uncover something new by researching a good answer for a patron's question.

Very nice profile, and I'm happy to say that it inspired me to try the self-serve Interlibrary Loan service for the first time. I saw that the book recommended above, Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, wasn't linked to our catalog so I wondered if I could get it from another library in Maryland. I clicked the link for Interlibrary Loan Request on the Marina Interlibrary Loan Service page , saw that the county library has a few copies, and a few seconds later I got an email saying the book would be sent to the library of my choice to be picked up. I love it! I think I had used the Interlibrary Loan service maybe once or twice in past years by asking a librarian to find things for me that the Pratt didn't have copies of, but normally I don't feel like doing all that. I had heard that the Marina search interface was recently improved and simplified, but didn't see any reason to try it myself until now. I'll definitely be using that service again now that I've seen how easy it is to do on my own.
Posted by: Teresa( Visit ) at 2/7/2013 10:43 a.m.

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