“Please Interrupt Me” isn’t what you hear every day. Inside the library, the staff at the research help desk, however, wants you to do exactly that. Students especially during these times when new technology is constantly materializing often want to do things themselves by searching on the internet for the answer to their problems. Sometimes we forget that there are people always willing to help.
For example, inside the library, the staff at the research help desk located on the second floor is always there if you need help. Drew Gatto, a staff member at the Research Help Desk, who has been working here since August 1, 2002, says the one thing he wants students at Exeter Academy to do is to, “Ask questions without fear.”
Mr. Gatto aims to help students and engage with them. He explains how he can tell when students are lost or have a question but are too afraid to ask — this is when he steps in to help. When asked his favorite part of his job, he says, “I very much enjoy working with students.” He likes the fact that not only students but also people from the town of Exeter come to visit. He also says, “Everyone here at Exeter is exceptional in some way, and it is a privilege to accompany people of all ages on their learning adventures.”
One of the most challenging parts of working at the library, he says, is, “..convincing students to actively seek out printed source of information.” Since technology is becoming more efficient, students are now depending more on the internet than on books. The Academy’s library numbers 272,000 works, printed and electronic, constituting the largest secondary school library in the world, according to the Phillips Exeter Academy website. As Mr. Gatto says, students will be much happier library users if they were to value this library material.
But happy as he is, Mr. Gatto did not always want to be a librarian. At first, he worked in an office environment packed with cubicles where he only occasionally talked to other co-workers. After several months he figured out he wanted to be in a more academic environment. With the help of a supervisor who graduated from Phillips Exeter, he got a job at the academy’s library. His motivation for working here for almost 14 years is the satisfaction he gets from helping students throughout their career in Exeter.
“It is amazing to watch students develop their research skills, learning to use the library to investigate ideas and subjects in which they’re interested.,” he said. This applies to Exeter students who are here in the regular session as well as students here for the summer.
In addition to helping students, his second job is Collection Development which consists of picking educational books in fields like economics, musical theater and film for the library. Mr. Gatto also works in the music department library on campus. His advice for students wanting to have a career as a librarian is to have an interest in technology as well as a love for books.
“Librarianship is a great career choice for someone who has a lot of different interests and finds the idea of specializing in one thing unappealing,” Mr. Gatto says, “During the course of a typical day as a librarian, I could be asked to be a problem-solver, fact-finder, teacher, counselor, event planner, switchboard operator, and/or direction-giver, and it’s all satisfying!”
Drew Gatto is an example of a person willing to help you. The next time you find yourself lost or confused in the library go to the research help desk. The staff there is always willing to help.