Liza Linton, Omar Rivera, Avis Leary, Marilyn Rivera, Michelle Dutton, and Debra Spivey: essential library professionals

The urban legend has it that if you work in a library you are a librarian. The Lloyd G. Sealy Library is an academic department, and librarians have faculty status. While librarians at the Lloyd Sealy Library help patrons at the reference desk, teach classes, create websites, evaluate and acquire books and databases, there are other professionals who contribute daily to the smooth operation of the Library. Although the Library Technical Services staff--office assistants, college office assistants, bookkeeper, work-study students, and others--do not often have direct contact with students or faculty in other departments, the Library could not function without them. I have interviewed some of the staff in the Technical Services to give you better idea about their backgrounds, current responsibilities and the indispensable role they play in the Library. I am very fortunate to work with these amazing people!

Michelle Dutton has been working in the Library’s Technical Services for more than 30 years! She is a John Jay College alumna and has worked with many library chiefs and librarians. Her knowledge of library online systems is unparalleled. She has trained dozens of office assistants and college workstudy students about book processing and cataloging. Michelle is extremely patient and is not afraid of any big projects, whether it is an avalanche of textbooks for Reserve in August-September or the relocation of all personal reserve copies in the matter of several weeks. Given her expertise, Ms. Dutton is our go-to person when a librarian cataloger is not available (and we haven’t had a full-time cataloger for more than two years). Ms. Dutton single-handedly catalogs and processes DVDs for the Media Department. She is also the main assistant for the Collection Development librarian and is involved in everything that concerns new purchases and problems with correcting bibliographic information regarding monographs, gifts and deletions in the library online systems. As far as working for the Library goes, she has always “liked a good book, so what a better place to work in.” We know, Michelle, and appreciate your great job. Come and admire the plants that she keeps in the Technical Services alive and happy!

Avis Leary, our bookkeeper, has been working in the library since 2001. A graduate of BMCC and Baruch College, she had worked in the Business Offices at BMCC and John Jay College as an accountant staff before joining the Library. Ms. Leary is responsible for receiving and paying all the Library bills on time, ordering reports and media, dealing with the vendors and the Business Office. She works with many librarians (Collection Development, Serials, Electronic Resources, Interlibrary Loan and Technology) to make sure the budgets and payments are kept in order. Ms. Leary enjoys going to the theater with her coworkers. If you are ever on Jeopardy and need help, your first call should be to Avis (no kidding, one day she will definitely be on TV).

For the past two years, Marilyn Rivera has been assisting Serials and Collection Development Librarians. She received her undergraduate degree from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Ponce Campus and is now in her last semester at Lehman College pursuing a Master’s Degree in Spanish Literature. Prior to starting at John Jay College, Ms. Rivera worked at Queens College (Computer Science Department) and the Bronx Community College (the Registrar’s Office and the Admissions). Even though she misses direct contact with students, she realizes the importance of her job in the Library. “As a graduate student I know and understand the importance of having the books, articles, and all the materials needed for homework and research.” Ms. Rivera handles the periodicals and books that need to be bound. She also copy catalogs the gifts and processes discards. Here is why she likes her job: “I get to know new titles to read. When I process a book or material, I like to leaf through and see what is about. I have learned a lot of new titles to read during my leisure time. I really love what I am doing, and the only I would like to change is the salary. We do a very important job for our students and we help them achieve their success.” Marilyn enjoys conversations about poetry or history of Puerto Rico. As a mother of four, she is also an expert on child rearing!

Liza Linton, who joined the Library less than two years ago, assists librarians with a variety of tasks: media reservations, interlibrary loan searches and processing, and checking the license agreements for hundreds of electronic databases to which the Library subscribes. Liza works with many librarians and maintains different spreadsheets with Library statistics. She is a whiz at CUNYFirst and has acquired knowledge of many library-specific online tools, such as ILLiad and ALEPH. Ms. Linton also serves as an assistant liaison to the College’s Office of Space and Planning and Buildings and Grounds Department. She has a Bachelor’s of Arts from Hunter College and a Master’s of Arts from the School of Professional Studies Graduate Center. Before coming to John Jay College, she worked at CUNY’s New York City College of Technology in the Office of the Dean of Professional Studies. Ms. Linton considers her job to be an “essential part of the Library. It might be seen as taking care of the little stuff … I am currently helping with organizing the repair and replacement of broken chairs throughout the library. How significant are chairs in a library? They are absolutely as essential/necessary as books.” Liza is an avid world traveler, always happy to talk about the places she visited and plans to go.

Debra Spivey has been working at John Jay College for 30 years and knows literally everyone, including administrators, laborers and custodian staff. She joined the Technical Services in 2013. Ms. Spivey attended classes at BMCC and lives by her mantra “Respect others for who and what they are, no matter what.” She deals with processing of new monographic acquisitions and gifts. Her job includes many steps: entering the items in the library online system ALEPH, applying stamps and security tapes, creating spine labels, producing protective covers, etc. In addition, Ms. Spivey takes care of all the discards and keeps statistics on new acquisitions, discarded materials, and gifts. She also makes sure all the steps are completed before delivering the books to their right locations in the Library. Ms. Spivey can be sometimes seen at the Circulation and Reserve desks when coverage is needed. Here is what she thinks about the importance of her job: “Receiving, processing, fixing books etc. for students to get that education they need to enter the real world, they need me. Books are the key of life. Knowledge is power. Books give life and great experiences for the future and past. Academic power comes from Books.” If you are in need of a great laugh, come and ask for Debbie. She has the most cheerful personality.

J. Omar Rivera has been taking care of the printed serials collection for the last two years. He studied photography and the recording arts at a trade school. Mr. Rivera is not new to the world of print media: he used to work in a bookstore prior to joining the Library. He considers his duties “indispensable. Serials need consistent attention and maintenance in order for the Library to function properly.” Mr. Rivera enjoys working at the Library for its welcoming environment. He is an avid reader and appreciates being surrounded by his favorite things: books! What would he like to change about his job? “Only that I’m not here as much as I could be. If there was more work, I would gladly jump at the opportunity.” Omar is very efficient, quick, and precise, and really likes good chocolate.

Maria Kiriakova


Read more from the Fall 2016 issue of Classified Information, the Library newsletter