A day in the life of a Coates librarian


Photo by Mona Mirpour

To the right of the stairs that descend to the second floor of Coates Library is First-Year Experience (FYE) librarian and associate professor Anne Graf’s office. The atmosphere outside her room is lively as students walk by with friends on their way to study or sit on the couches and chat. Graf’s office is easy to walk past, but it also seems to absorb the distinct energy that from radiates a few feet from its walls.

Graf has been a librarian at Trinity for the past nine years and has a variety of responsibilities. Some of her roles in the library include supporting students with research assignments, working with first-year students in FYEs, coordinating the summer reading assignment and advising first-year students. Graf works with multiple departments and programs, including Education, English, Government, Healthcare Administration, Sports Management and Women’s and Gender Studies.

Typically, Graf walks into her office at 8:30 a.m. every morning after she drops her son off at daycare. She then looks at the list she made the day before detailing the tasks that she needs to complete.

Graf usually checks her emails to see if there is something that takes a higher priority than the tasks she’s written out in her notebook. Graf devotes a lot of time every day to emailing back and forth with both students and colleagues about research and finding resources.

“I like it when students or faculty email and ask me about something that they are working on, just because I am a curious person and I like to know what people are interested in and help them,” Graf said.

Graf usually eats lunch at Starbucks and reads the San Antonio Express-News. Then, if she is teaching classes in the library that week, she’ll prepare for those and make sure her lesson plans are finalized.

“So it’s sort of a combination of meetings, preparing a class, teaching a class and then email in between,” Graf said. “Because of my office being here, I have a lot of just drop-in type questions and requests, and I like that, too.”

Graf’s days also vary. On one particular day, Graf had planned to work and explore some materials with a creative nonfiction class in the Special Collections, but Special Collections librarian was out with her sick child. Graf had to think fast and come up with a new lesson plan for the day.

Hannah Bortz, a senior psychology major, was in that Friday special collections class.

“[Graf] told us a little bit about Special Collections before, and she was really helpful in guiding us around the artifacts and how to handle them and what their meanings were. She was very engaging and seemed very knowledgeable about everything there,” Bortz said.

On the same day, Graf also helped Kirsten Timco, a senior English major, with a research project for David Rando’s Animal Studies and Modern Fiction English class. Timco has been seeing Graf since her first year and has used her as a resource for HUMA, postmodernism and medieval English classes.

Timco encourages students to go to liaison librarians because of the unique insights they can provide into sources for research.

“I don’t think a lot of people take advantage of liaison librarians, and I’ve only used them for English, but if there is a research component to any type of project, go to them. They make it so much easier,” Timco said.

Graf also spends a lot of time looking for resources that would be useful to students and faculty in their research and tries to make sure that Trinity is up-to-date with their materials. Graf runs the library’s marketing and outreach team to help students and faculty know what the library offers, and she helps coordinate the library tour for the new student orientation.

“I have such disparate departments that I work with, so I work with healthcare, but also English, sports management and first-years, so that gives me a pretty wide sense of different projects that people are engaged in,” Graf said.

But Graf’s favorite part of her job is interacting and talking to students. She reflected that even though helping can be difficult, it is also fun.

“I really love teaching and interacting with students,” Graf said. “Whether it’s one-on-one in a small group like this or in a class. Weirdly enough, I like the challenge of the library class because most people are not going into it thinking that it’s going to be fun or interesting. I like the challenge of how to make that really relevant and engaging.”