How Tufts Works: Books rock

Five minutes after meeting, Kristin Lee and I are standing on a former glacial field examining six hundred million-year-old rocks. Shockingly, we are not on an archeological research trip in Siberia. We are five feet from Tisch Library learning about the geology of Tufts from Grant Garven, professor in the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, who had set up drilling rigs all over campus to collect rock samples.

Although it came as news to me that the greater Boston area was at one time blanketed by a glacier, Kristin did not seem phased by this fact. It turns out that as a trained geologist and research data librarian at Tisch, she is intimately familiar with the study of rocks.

As an undergraduate at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, Kristin was introduced to geology after receiving a scholarship for women in the field. Upon graduation, she became a field worker for a Canadian mining company.

Her first assignment consisted of prospecting for uranium in northern Quebec for seven weeks. On a daily basis, she and a team of prospectors were transported by helicopter to remote sites. Carrying their equipment, they trekked through swamps and bushes, sampling rocks along the way.

After that, Kristin traveled to Mongolia as a member of the company’s global explorations team. While there, she developed a deep appreciation for the unique character of the East Asian country.

Reflecting on this part of her life, Kristin balances an appreciation for the “hunt” involved with mineral excavation with the trying nature of the job. Despite the hardships involved with prospecting, it afforded her with the invaluable opportunity to travel around her home country and the world.

After returning to human civilization and going back to school for a master’s degree in library and information science, Kristin officially swapped rocks and minerals for books and data. Her new career path brought her to Tufts, a school that she says she had always wanted to work at. She feels fortunate that she is able to combine many of her passions as a librarian in higher education.

Kristin’s role as a research data librarian is to teach people how to take advantage of the incredible resources the library has to offer in the most efficient and effective way possible. She streamlines the process of information collection so that researchers can spend their time focusing on the big picture questions, instead of drowning in the vastness of their sources.

The most rewarding part of her job, Kristin explains, is witnessing the “aha” moments that she helps create. However, she quickly brushes aside her own contributions and credits her colleagues with creating a great atmosphere within Tisch Library.

Just when I thought I could not be more impressed, Kristin casually mentions that she and another librarian are learning roller derby. At this point, I need no more convincing that her description of Tisch librarians as “dynamic and interesting and enthusiastic and passionate” is most applicable to her.