WU Libraries Staff Spotlight: Ryan Wallace

Ryan Wallace grew up in St. Louis and graduated from Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in earth and planetary sciences. After graduation, she worked as a cataloging assistant at St. Louis University until she was hired in 2008 as library assistant for WU’s Ronald Rettner Earth & Planetary Sciences Library. Ryan earned a master’s degree in library science from University of Missouri-Columbia in 2013. She lives in Forest Park Southeast.

Can you describe your job?

It’s a two-person library, so I basically do everything that Clara (McLeod) doesn’t do. My desk is behind the circulation desk, so I handle a lot of the front-line questions. I supervise the students who are doing the circulation, and I handle reserves. Because I have cataloging experience, I copy catalog our state geological survey documents. For a long time those weren’t in the catalog at all, or they weren’t under their individual titles. They were under long-series titles, so people didn’t know we had them.

Are you working on any big projects right now?

We’ve been doing a complete inventory of our topographic map collection. It’s tens of thousands of maps.

What do you like best about your job?

I get to do a little bit of everything. I do cataloging and collection management. I teach a Writing I course with Clara every semester, and we also do workshops for the EPS department.

A departmental library is a little bit more intimate than Olin, so we get to know a lot of the people in the department, a lot of the grad students and even the undergrads, because it’s not a big major. Over the summer, the department sometimes has a weeklong camping trip to a national park. You hike and camp with people who really know what’s happening geologically. We went to Yosemite a couple of years ago, and we went with someone who studied the granites that make up the park.

How did you decide on your major at WU?

I started as a civil engineering major back when WU had a civil engineering program, but I wasn’t very good at it. I always liked geology and going outside. It really is the field trip major. Sometimes you get to go camping in beautiful Missouri state parks. Sometimes it’s less glamorous, and you’re standing in the cold rain on the side of the highway staring at the closest outcrop of this one rock, which is in a drainage ditch.

What else do you want people to know about where you work?

The luminescent minerals display in Rudolph Hall is cool. You can see boring-looking rocks that look amazing under black light.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to bike through Forest Park, and the Riverfront Trail is really nice. It goes from downtown to the Chain of Rocks Bridge. I like crafting and knitting. I also really enjoy watching Korean dramas online.

What are you currently reading?

A crime caper called The Hot Rock. It’s a comic novel by Donald Westlake.

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