Over the past few semesters, we have been highlighting librarians who sit behind the Ask a Librarian desk, ready to answer your questions and to help you with your research. (Check out the previous interviews!)
Today’s interview comes from…wait a minute, could this be true? Is today’s interview from our very own blog administrator and web services librarian, Jessica Gilbert Redman? Why, yes, it is!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in rural West Central Illinois, near Quincy, IL. Tangential note: Quincy has been referred to as the “bellybutton of Illinois,” due to its placement right on the Mississippi River on the curved-out portion of Illinois.
How did you make your way to the Grand Forks area?
I made my way to Grand Forks about a year and a half ago now, after I took a bit of a jaunt around the Midwest over the course of about 15 years. I’ve lived in four states since I graduated from college, but I moved here from Duluth, Minnesota, where I lived for over a decade after I married a born-and-bred Minnesotan. (He’s okay with being just across the river from Minnesota for now.)
What is your favorite place to eat in Grand Forks area?
I’m still trying out new places in the Greater Grand Forks areas, so I’m always happy to hear about some place I’ve never been just so I can eat somewhere different. I love the calzones at Italian Moon (although I’ve only ordered delivery and never dined in), but other favorite locations include Sickie’s (tater tots with sea salt), Blue Moose (Spicy Chicken Wrap), and Mamma Maria’s.
Why did you decide to become a librarian?
The short answer is that I love to research and discover new things, but the longer answer includes a wonderful mentor and a very happy experience as a library student worker during my undergrad years. Doña Patricia was both the college’s library director and my upper-level Spanish instructor in college. She sadly and unexpectedly passed away shortly after I graduated, but she always knew I’d eventually end up as a librarian (before I even knew it). I walked away from graduation brazenly telling her and one of my English professors who had both exhorted me to go to grad school, “I’m done with school! I’ll never write another paper again!”
Well, we all see how well that worked out.
What is the craziest or most interesting job you’ve ever had?
The most interesting job is probably the position I held while contracted to the Department of Children and Family Services in Illinois. I supervised visits between parents and children in the DCFS system and had to write up detailed reports for each visit, sometimes testifying in court about what I had witnessed. Children are smarter than most adults give them credit for and can be incredibly resilient (more so than most adults I’ve met). I met some of the most amazing and wonderful kids in the several years that I held that job, and as difficult as the position was, I’d never give up having had that experience.
What strange skill do you have that many other people don’t?
I have a very good memory for music and lyrics, and I know a lot of songs—some pretty obscure. One of my friends swears that I know a song for every possible subject (it was a fun game to play in college, but it’s not exactly true).
When I’m not engaging in games of the melodious sort, I’m practicing my very evil laugh, which already puts Dr. Horrible to shame and gives Random Sudden and Inevitably Betraying Dinosaurs fits of jealousy.
What skill or talent do you wish you had?
I wish I could speak any language at will. I remember discovering the Babel fish as a child and desperately wishing it were a real thing that I could squish into my ear.
What book do you think everyone should read?
I don’t know that there’s one book that absolutely everyone should read, but there are many books that have just stayed with me, long after I’ve finished reading them. Two of the more recent ones that just keep making me think and jump back into the story-world are Bone Gap by Laura Ruby and The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (translated by Alison Anderson). I always encourage people to read them when we’re talking about books, because they are absolutely delicious and the writing is gorgeous.