University of Pittsburgh's Homepage

Rebecca

I began working at Hillman Library the year I started my Bachelor's in 1975, and worked part time in many departments as I pursued all my degrees concluding with the doctorate. There isn't a square foot of that library I didn't know. Naturally I have hundreds of stories to share, but one stands out. I was pulling books for Inter Library Loan and on that day's list was a request from either Latvia or Lithuania. It was from one of the Baltic countries in the former Soviet Bloc.
I noted that the request had been bumped from one major university to another spanning countries and continents, and there it was in my hands. It was a hot day, I was so relieved to be in Hillman not only for the air conditioning but because it was like a second home I shared with others who loved working there. I made my way to the floor and area I knew it would be shelved according to its Library of Congress call number, turned into the aisle or range, as they were called, walked slowly scanning the numbers and counting down to its allotted place. There it was. I pulled a slim and somewhat unimpressive, even humble looking little book from between larger and more professionally bound titles. I looked again at the call sheet and envisioned a world map. I could see in my mind's eye the long, long journey undertaken by this request: a pilgrimage for a relic by a Medieval character out of Chaucer. I held this little work in my hands, the hands of a fellow student thousands of miles away from the scholar who must be at that very moment no matter the time of day waiting, hoping and needing what I had pulled off one of Hillman Library's shelves in order to successfully complete a thesis or dissertation. This person's academic and professional future was a slim, simple volume that sat squeezed between thousands of others, just waiting.
I carried this little book back to the office and with each step I imagined the joy and relief this Baltic scholar would feel upon learning that it was at last found somewhere in the world; and that somewhere was not London, Oxford, Cambridge, University of Paris, Harvard, Stanford, Penn, But at my university's library. This small but priceless jewel was on the shelves of Hillman Library at my university, the University of Pittsburgh. As I walked back to my apartment I knew that this far away scholar would be forever grateful to Pitt, this scholar would praise my university's library no doubt with not a small amount of wonder and would surely share this story with professors, fellow students, family and probably future colleagues and students. That was a good day.

First Name: 
Rebecca
Last Name: 
Dean
Graduation Year: 
1997