By Jon Jeffryes
Del Reed did not plan to become a librarian. Starting at the University of Minnesota Libraries as a student worker, Del made a case for getting hired full-time after graduating and getting accepted into the Philosophy Ph.D program.
Upon attaining his Ph.D. he found that he enjoyed his work at the Libraries and decided to stay. He has worked in a variety of positions ever since.
‘So many people don’t know what kind of services the Libraries can offer them’
Visitors to the Bio-Medical Library may recognize Del as one of the welcoming faces working the reference desk. It’s the public service component of his job that he values the most. In his years of serving the public Del realized that “so many people don’t know what kind of services the Libraries can offer them.”
Del finds it personally rewarding to sit down with a researcher and show them aspects of information seeking that they didn’t realize they didn’t know.
“They’re almost always just so thankful and grateful for what you did for them,” he says. Along with one-on-one reference consultations, Del assists with literature searches, teaches classes, and answers visitors’ reference questions.
Del said he draws on his philosophical expertise along with his 30 years of library experience to provide excellent service to researchers from all backgrounds at the Bio-Medical Library. “The critical thinking skills and sound methodological approach to philosophical questions have proved to be extremely helpful in my job in the library.”
Unpacking the search request
Del describes adapting the philosophical practice of “unpacking an argument” and customizing it to his library work as “unpacking the search request.” When working with a researcher Del will break down the original search question and apply the component parts in a variety of ways to find the most useful information. Del took a year of philosophical logic courses while earning his degree and finds that “database searching is pretty much logic.”
Del connects his work to the larger land grant mission of the University of Minnesota, saying that the Libraries “obviously play a big role in providing that kind of access to an education.”
Outside of the library, Del enjoys reading, playing and watching sports, and canoe camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
His commitment to service remains constant over 30 years
Del’s work has changed since he started working for the Libraries as a student in 1981 and became a full-time employee in 1986. Starting out providing general reference services and library instruction, Del has recently moved into a subject librarian position, supporting Allied Health, Center for Bioethics, Health Careers Center, Physical Therapy, and Public Health while continuing to work three reference desk shifts a week. Del also enjoys teaching high school students how to use the library for health sciences research. “I’m always impressed by their motivation and eagerness to learn.”
What hasn’t changed is the importance Del places on providing top-level service.
“In attempting to answer a reference question I will do everything in my power to provide the patron with satisfying answer.”