In the spring, we highlighted five of the librarians who sit behind the reference desk, but there are five more that you might recognize from visiting the library. These librarians sit behind the Ask a Librarian desk and are ready to answer your questions and help you with your research. (Check out the previous interviews!)
Sara Kuhn, Chester Fritz Library’s newest reference librarian, started over the summer and has agreed to kick off the latest installments of the “Get to Know Your Reference Librarians” series for the fall semester. As CFL’s Scholarly Communication and Social Science Librarian, Sara is the subject specialist for Communication, Criminal Justice, Psychology, and Sociology. To contact her or learn more about her educational background, please visit her profile page.
Where did you grow up?
Fargo. I was born in United Hospital. When I was 10 months old, my mother, father, and I moved to Fargo from 2nd Ave N near 14th Street in Grand Forks.
If not in Grand Forks or North Dakota, how did you make your way here?
In my case, a more interesting question is, how did you make your way back here? I left North Dakota at the age of 18, and lived in (in chronological order) Salt Lake City, Utah; San Diego; Vancouver, British Columbia; Nelson, British Columbia; Park Rapids, Minnesota; Penang, Malaysia; Trivandrum Kerala, India — a small village outside of Thirumangalam village (on the outskirts of Madurai); Tamil Nadu, India; and until May 2017, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After all that…I suddenly felt the call to come back home.
What is your favorite place to eat in the Grand Forks area and what do you usually order?
I don’t know yet…I have only been living here for 3 weeks. Looking for recommendations for excellent vegetarian food. Right now, it’s Pizza, Pizza, Pizza.
What is your favorite spot in Chester Fritz Library?
I like the Chester Fritz in Shanghai photo exhibit area on Level 3 on the East side of the building for several reasons. It is quiet, understated – not too flashy (just like me), and the white walls and black and white photographs interspersed by a few pieces of Asian art not only tell an incredible tale of intrigue and adventure, but inspire a feeling of open creativity in me, providing a canvas for the beginnings and expressions of ideas; a space in which all things are possible and all possibilities exist, roaming free. The open tables and individual study areas are graced by natural light and a view of the green space out on the quad. I could sit there and contemplate the meaning of life all day.
Why did you decide to become a librarian?
The library was the most special place in my child’s world. At the time of my decision, I was working as a flight attendant for a regional airline and was bored to tears. Hiding behind the airplane curtain and reading as many books as possible during ascents and descents, I suddenly thought, “Why have I never thought of becoming a librarian?!” with an incredulity that brought with it the certainty that this career avenue must be investigated urgently.
What is the craziest or most interesting job you’ve ever had?
If I told you that I would have to…(you know). Regardless, let’s settle on one of the most interesting…as a performer (BFA in Modern Dance), I was able to travel and engage in many exciting performing opportunities; including performing in a musical about the Doors called Celebration of the Lizard King in San Diego, and other, more theatrical performance art and modern dance works at places such as Performance Space 122 (PS122) in New York City and venues in Anchorage and Homer, Alaska. I also sang and played the drums in Brazilian samba bands in Salt Lake City and San Diego.
What strange skill do you have that many other people don’t?
I discovered at a young age that I can make a very successful duck call with a special technique I made up myself. I have never actually used it to call ducks.
What skill or talent do you wish you had?
The ability to call small fairies to do my housework.
What do you think your life’s theme song would be?
Stayin’ Alive (with a gender shift)
What book do you think everyone should read?
War with the Newts by Karel Čapek (1936) – and we have it at the Chester Fritz Library! It is also available freely online. Why read it? Because it is a dystopian, allegorical Science Fiction novel that almost no one knows about anymore, and it is so totally cool. It provides a social, moral and ethical reflection on human nature and our tendency to subjugate and enslave others due to real and perceived differences in appearance, customs, values or beliefs. Always poignant. Forever relevant. Deeply meaningful. The next time you go to your academic, librarian, hipster (or otherwise) coffee shop book discussion or book group, say, casually, with a flip of your hair or adjustment of your beret, “Has anyone here, by any chance, read War with the Newts?,” look down your nose, or over the tops of your glasses, and count the panicked faces.