Getting to know Graham Library & Trinity Archives Staff

In this month’s staff profile, we meet: Sylvia Lassam For previous staff profiles see below.

Name? Sylvia Lassam

What’s your job title? Rolph Bell Archivist

For readers outside the library & archives world, what does your job title actually mean? It means I’m the (only) person at Trinity who looks after the historic records of the College. The position was endowed several years ago by an alumna, Ruth Bell, in honour of her first husband, William K. Rolph, an historian who died at a very young age. 

How did you get into working in libraries/archives? I grew up in a household that was overrun with books and I read constantly as a child, so it seemed like a logical thing to do. I switched into archives later when I realized that I love working with original documents even more than I love working with books.

What is your favourite resource at U of T Libraries and or Archives? Discover Archives, the umbrella database that includes resources from all the University of Toronto archives.
What’s the most interesting or fulfilling thing you’re working on right now? I’m working on Michael Ignatieff’s papers when I have time.

Before working at Graham Library/Trinity College Archives, what was your most unusual or interesting job? Many years ago I worked for Hugh Anson-Cartwright at his bookshop. That was the best job ever.

What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most? Working with students

What’s your favourite journal/periodical? Vogue!

Describe your typical workday. One of the things I like most about my job here at Trinity is that there is no typical day. I never know what sort of questions I’ll be asked, or who will walk in the door.

What is your best advice for U of T Library or Archives users? Be curious.

What was the last book you finished reading? Adam Gopnik’s A Thousand Small Sanities

What was the best concert you’ve ever attended? Miles Davis, in about 1990

What was the best meal you ever had and where? Noonan’s Lobster Hut in Kennebunkport, Maine:  Lobster, steamed clams, a bag of potato chips, and wild blueberry pie.

Besides our library, what is your favourite library to visit? The Osborne Collection at the Lillian H. Smith Branch of the Toronto Public Library

What’s your favourite thing to do in Toronto? Shopping in Kensington Market

What do you like to do in your spare time? Feed people. I like to cook and have interesting conversations over food.

Portrait of BillyName: Billy J. Gekas

What’s your job title?

Circulation Supervisor

For readers outside library-land, what does your job title actually mean?

As the Circulation Supervisor, I manage student employees and the operations at circulation. This includes coaching and supporting our student assistants as they work directly with our library patrons at the circulation desk. I am also responsible for making sure all transactions, reports, communications, building operations, and patron’s needs are taken care of.

How did you get into working in libraries? As a graduate student in theology, I began working at both the John W. Graham Library (Trinity College) and the John M. Kelly Library (St. Michael’s college) as a Student Assistant. As a student, it was an amazing opportunity to learn and appreciate the incredible resources we all have with the University of Toronto Libraries (UTL) community.

What is your favourite resource at U of T Libraries (e.g. particular database, online journal streaming video, etc)? My favorite resource is the access we have to the most up to date published journals available online through our OneSearch Library catalogue. In my spare time, I am regularly looking up the most recent publications in my research areas.

What aspect of your role at Graham do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy the fulfillment of witnessing how operations run smoothly among my staff and with our patrons, which creates a welcoming and active environment at the library. I am also very relationally oriented, and enjoy helping to cultivate a space at Graham Library for new and intersectional relationships to grow among both our Trinity College and wider University of Toronto communities.

What is your best advice for U of T Library users?
Take advantage of our OneSearch library catalogue!!! It is a huge and multifaceted resource, which provides the most recent and innovative publications available.

What’s your favourite leisure reading genre?

 Sci-Fi, and specifically dystopian and post-apocalyptic narratives. Frank Herbert’s “Dune” is my most favorite book of all time!

 What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?

 My favorite musician (since childhood in the early 80’s) is Tina Turner, and I had the incredible opportunity of attending her last touring concert here in Toronto. Next favorite concert was finally seeing Dolly Parton 3 years in Toronto. YES I love my Legendary Divas!

 What do you like to do in your spare time?

 I am either teaching & coaching in private practice (yoga, qigong, and other “wholistic” practices), foraging, distilling, or preparing plant medicines.

 Where did you grow up?

I am one of the rare few born and raised in downtown Toronto, and still here. The 1st 5 years of my life, I had traveled a lot with my parents across Canada, United States, and Europe, so I caught the travel bug early! I eventually made my way all over the globe, but always have flown back to Toronto my home.

Name: John Papadopoulos

What’s your job title? Nicholls Librarian and Director, John W. Graham Library

For readers outside library land, what does your job title actually mean?  As College Librarian, I am responsible for all aspects of administration of the library (planning, budgeting, collection development, working with donors and the Friends of the Library, and supervising our staff of librarians and library technicians). One of the most gratifying parts of the job is brainstorming with my amazing colleagues on how to improve and develop new services that we can offer to the library’s users.

How did you get into working in libraries? I started working as a page at the Cedarbrae branch of the Scarborough Public Library when I was 15. At some point during law school in the early 1990s I was chatting with Esther Wan, the Reference Librarian at the Bora Laskin Law Library, about her job. It just clicked that what she did – helping people with research, teaching, building collections – sounded like a dream job. After that, I knew I would enter library school as soon as I was done law school.

What is your favourite resource at U of T Libraries: I am really fond of the – Prosopography of the Byzantine World. It is now a free online resource (https://pbw2016.kdl.kcl.ac.uk/) but it started off as on old-school CD ROM that the UofT Library had networked for use. It is an amazing tool that allows you plug in the name of a historical person and find references to that name in primary sources.

What’s the most interesting or fulfilling thing you’re working on right now?

Over the last year or so, Courtney Lundrigan, Adrienne Findley-Jones and I have been working out how to launch and expand our document delivery service for faculty and instructors. Only a handful of libraries on campus offer this, and it has been very gratifying to be able to be the smallest library on campus to offer this kind of premium service.

Before working at Graham Library, what was your most unusual or interesting job?

After about one year working at the Bora Laskin Law Library my friend and colleague Ted Tjaden felt I was ready (I wasn’t!) to take over teaching his class at the Faculty of Information. Getting up to speed on teaching, developing materials and assignments, and working out the right pace and rhythm for a 13 week term was a terrifying and completely exhilarating experience. Teaching Legal Literature and Librarianship from 2005-2012 was among the most professionally rewarding work I have done. The experience also taught me the importance of creating opportunities for colleagues to take on new challenges.

What was the last book you finished reading?

Grant and I: Inside and Outside The Go-Betweens. I really like music biographies. This one is a lovely story of the friendship and rivalry at the heart of Australia’s criminally underrated Go-Betweens.

What’s your favourite leisure reading genre?

I find it difficult to immerse myself in novels at this point in my life. History is easier as I can dip in and out as I have time – I like reading about the history of Byzantium especially the 1261-1453 period. Lately I’ve been really interested in Theodoros Metochites – the guy with the big hat. 

What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?

Lloyd Cole at the Concert Hall 1990. He had Robert Quine and Matthew Sweet in his band. For the first (and probably last) time, sensitive and bookish Lloyd Cole rocked out – an amazing once in a lifetime experience.
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I’d love to visit Venice again – but in the off-season. It is a magical place, despite the crowds – I can’t image how special it would be when it is quiet.

What was the best meal you ever had and where?

Arancini – fried rice balls – at La Bucca do Bacco in Positano on my honeymoon in 2000.

What is your favourite sport and why (to play or to watch)

I love to watch soccer. It is truly an international sport and one can even be short and stocky and still be a star – see Diego Maradona. I used to be a Serie A (Italy) snob, but I’ve slowly come to accept the fact the English Premier League is the most interesting and entertaining league in the world.

What’s your favourite thing to do in Toronto? Family walks. Just pick a neighbourhood and stroll aimlessly.

Where did you grow up? I’m a Toronto kid. I grew up next to Monarch Park in the east end – street hockey, skating, massive neighbourhood hide and seek games, watching trains go by, just idyllic!

Describe your perfect vacation day/day off work: Home with my wife, reading and drinking tea

Headshot of Adrienne

Name: Adrienne Findley-Jones.
Job Title: Interlibrary Loan & Course Reading Technician, Graham InfoExpress Co-ordinator
Translation: A slightly more frazzled RA for the faculties of 2 colleges.
How did you get into working in libraries? Accidental convenience?!  I started as a student assistant at the Silcox Library while I was a MDiv student at Huron University College in London.  I needed a job and since I was already attending Huron, working at the library made sense: I assisted mainly with circulation.  My next library job was at the McMillan Library at the Vancouver School of Theology at UBC where I was working on another Masters degree:  I was in the back office assisting with book processing and cataloguing.
What’s the most interesting or fulfilling thing I’m working on now?  I’d say, but the Library Gods might look unfavourably upon my saying something.  Best to say nothing, other than WATCH THIS SPACE.
Before working at Graham Library, what was my most unusual or interesting job?  I’ve worked as a hospital chaplain before becoming a retail mall rat for a number of years that I will never get back.
What aspect of my role at the Graham do I enjoy the most?  I get to work at the Graham.  Seriously.  A little more serious – I get to work with some pretty awesome people to make research magic happen.
Where did I grow up? Norfolk County, about 10-15 minutes from Lake Erie.  My hometown is famous for having Canada’s longest running county fair, and Christmas lights in our parks.
What was the best meal I’ve ever had and where?  I don’t know what it is about it, but my mother makes the best ham and scallop potato dinner every Easter.  Even duck a l’orange from Le Continental in Quebec City pales in comparison, and that’s some serious duck.
What is my favourite sport and why (to play or to watch)?  The only sport I have ever been able to both play and enjoy watching is volleyball.  If I could do high school over again, I’d be on the school team.

Image of Christopher H

Name? Christopher Hogendoorn

What’s your job title and what do you do? Student Outreach & Archival Projects Librarian

For readers outside of the library & archives world, what does your job title actually mean? I am responsible for the library’s outreach programing to increase student engagement and integrate the library into the Trinity College community. I also work in the archives, where I’m committed to facilitating the use of archival material in assignments and in the classroom, and working with student groups who are interested in learning more about the College’s history. I am responsible for liaising with the Friends of the Library and I assist with their programming and publicity. I also participate in the Personal Librarian Program.

How did you get into working in libraries/archives?  
I first began volunteering in my local library to prepare the crafts and activities for the children’s programming while in high school in order to complete my required 40 hours of community service which I needed to graduate. This led to a part-time position as a library assistant. I began working in the Graham Library as a library assistant in my second year as a student at Trinity College, as well as the archives, where I was a summer student for two years. My experience as a student inspired me to apply to the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information to become a professional librarian and archivist.

What is your favourite resource at U of T Libraries?
The new UTL Discover Archives portal. It provides researchers with a single location for all of the university’s archives’ finding aids and resources, and has the ability to host digital content. Check out Trinity’s recently uploaded architectural drawings!

What’s the most interesting or fulfilling thing you’re working on right now?         
The Trinity College Historical Society is working with the archives to research and update the College’s Wikipedia page. There is currently a lot of information that is either out of date or incorrect, and this project gives students who are interested in the College’s history the opportunity to do some research and create an incredibly useful product.
What would you like people to know about Graham Library or Trinity Archives that they might not know? You can’t eat here!
Before working at Graham Library, what was your most unusual or interesting job? I worked for one summer doing a midnight shift on an assembly line processing 5 litre bags of dialysis solution.
What aspect of your role at Graham do you enjoy the most?       
I love when researchers come with questions about the history of Trinity College. It’s always a fun scavenger hunt to find the answer in the archives, and I am always guaranteed to learn something I didn’t know before.
What’s your favourite journal/periodical at Graham? Ontario History
What is your best advice for U of T Library users? When in doubt, ask a librarian!
What’s your favourite leisure reading genre? Historical fiction
What was the best concert you’ve ever attended? Hugh Laurie and the Copper Bottom Band at the Danforth Music Hall
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? I would take a river boat cruise through Europe.
What’s your favourite podcast? The Wrong Station
Besides our library, what is your favourite library to visit? Emmanuel College Library
Where did you grow up? Alliston, ON
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Archaeologist
What is your favourite snack?Lay’s Salt & Vinegar chips
Describe your perfect vacation day/day off work? Spending the day at my local diner reading the newspaper
What smartphone app is indispensable to you and why? Apple Podcasts – when I’m not talking, reading, or sleeping, I’m listening to a podcast

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