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Robert Stocker ’90
This is part 12 in our weekly summer blog series in which we highlight some of the amazing Furman alumni who have gone on to work in library and information professions. Click here to view all posts in this series.
Today we are featuring Robert Stocker from the class of 1990. Stocker graduated with his bachelor’s degree in English. Then in 1997 he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He currently works for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library as a librarian cataloger!
Tell us a little bit about how you chose to work as a library and information professional?
“In the eighth grade, I worked one period in the school library. I remember as part of a class assignment saying that I planned to be a librarian. Then I forgot all about it through high school and most of college. In 1989, I got a summer job working as a circulation clerk at the Richland County Public Library in Columbia, S.C., between my junior and senior years at Furman. It seemed like a good way to spend 3 months. Turned out, I enjoyed the work so much that I got a part-time job doing pretty much the same work at the Greenville County Library system when I got back to Furman that fall. Months later this led to my working in the library at the same time I was student teaching, allowing me to compare the two potential careers *very* directly. Libraries won hands down. Upon graduating, despite a full-time job offer from Greenville County’s system, I opted to return to Richland County in a full-time regular position. Having learned by this time what would be required to move into a professional position, I began making plans to get my master’s degree.”
What has been your professional path to your current position?
“After library school, in 1998, I took a position with the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (as it was then called) as an Automation Support Coordinator (front-line tech support). In 2001, I transferred to a different branch in the same system as an Information Specialist (which was the title then used for Librarians). I was in that position through the system re-org which resulted in the job title changing to Librarian ca. 2005, and until I came to my present position in 2014.”
What is the most interesting library in which you’ve worked?
“I currently work as a cataloger in special collections (local history and genealogy) in a large public library system. The varied demands of the multiple aspects of this combination definitely make it the most interesting library I’ve worked in. On the day I am filling this survey out, I spent time on the reference desk, I performed some serials cataloging, I processed a financial gift from a patron, I did an obituary search, and I attended a meeting at which we discussed the new main library that’s going to start construction next year. Tomorrow morning, I have to come in early to help out with early voting. There’s always something going on.”
What is something you have been surprised by during your career?
“Discovering during my cataloging class (first year, first term of library school) that I had a real knack for it, and wanted to do it. The next biggest surprise was that it took me 16 years to actually become a cataloger (though I spent the last 1-1/2 or 2 years of that cross-training with an eye toward it happening).”
Is there a particularly fond memory from your time at Furman that you would be willing to share?
“I turned in a paper for Dr. Ann Sharp’s ENG 11 class two days late, knowing full well that it would cost me a letter grade per day. She gave it back to me graded A-. I have no idea what grade is two letters up from A-, but it definitely played a roll in choosing my major.”