Rod: Going with the flow

How did you get started at the Libraries?

I started as a student working on the RECON (Retrospective Conversion) project, which was essentially digitizing the card catalogue records. I was going to night school at the time, so they offered me a full-time position during the day, at which point I became an LA I.

What was the campus like then?

No computers. No cell phones. Lines . . . lots of lines. Wanna register for class, stand in line. Wanna get your financial aid, stand in line. Wanna pay your tuition, stand in line. You get the picture. (As an aside, I was looking for my birth certificate the other day — in order to retire you have to prove you were born — and I found an old receipt from the early ’80s for my Latin class . . . 5 credit class for $107.50.) I had transferred from South Dakota State University, which was structured on the semester system, and at that time the University was on the quarter system, so the pace was noticeably faster . . . had to cram a semester’s worth of knowledge into a quarter. But I always enjoyed my time here.

How have the Libraries changed over the years?

“I bought my first Apple II+ in 1982, before I bought my first Macintosh (which came out in 1984). But these days I’m kinda leaning towards Lowrance or Humminbird [fish-finding technology].”

—Rod Rasmussen on whether he prefers Mac or PC

The Music Library was on the East Bank when I started working for the Libraries, but then Ferguson Hall was built on the West Bank so that’s its new home. And, of course, Andersen Library was also built on the West Bank. A number of departmental libraries closed and their collections were moved to the larger libraries, and some were remodeled/renovated, perhaps most notably Walter Library. And, of course, computers and the internet have had a huge impact on all of our libraries. The libraries were just starting to digitize and automate at the same time that my interest in computers was budding. Who knows, had it not been for the RECON project, I might never have worked in the libraries.

One thing hasn’t changed . . . the libraries have always been, and I think always will be, a wonderful place for students, faculty and inquisitive folks from all walks of life to gather.

 How did this change your work?

Well, most of my work has been about computers and networks. The RECON project digitized the Libraries catalog and put it at the fingertips of anybody with a computer terminal.

After that, I was head of Bindery Preparations in Wilson Library where I created a database on a network server to automate the binding processes. We went from using typewriters and an Addressograph to using desktop computers, a database, and a network server to link all bindery prep units together, as well as the University Bindery.

From Bindery Prep, I joined the Automated Systems team, which didn’t really have a system for tracking computer support requests, or inventory control of the libraries computer and technology equipment. I created a database to automate the help-desk support request tickets and computer database management for inventory control of technology equipment. We eventually switched to a commercial product for this application for which I was the server and database administrator.

What will you miss?

I will miss seeing and interacting with my colleagues on a regular basis. I will miss the students, and faculty, and staff, and visitors who are, literally, from all around the world. I will miss walking across the Washington Avenue bridge and pausing to watch the river flow …

What are you most proud of?

I’m not a prideful person, but I’m eternally grateful for my years here in the University Libraries.

What was the favorite part of your job?

Anything and everything having to do with computers. There have been so many times that I stop and think, “I can’t believe they pay me to have this much fun!”

Which do you prefer: Apple or PC?

I bought my first Apple II+ in 1982, before I bought my first Macintosh (which came out in 1984). But these days I’m kinda leaning towards Lowrance or Humminbird [fish-finding technology].

What do you plan to do in retirement? 

I plan to summer in Minnesota in my campground on Big Pine Lake by Perham, Minn., and winter in Arizona or somewhere in the southwest … I hear the sky is mostly blue down there.

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