Meet Gretchen Sotomayor– Part of our “Featured Librarian” Series


Welcome to our “Featured Librarian” series!

We thought it would be fun for everyone to know who we are, what we do and learn a bit about why we love libraries.

Gretchen Sotomayor, Research, Instruction and Archives Specialist

This month’s Featured Librarian is Gretchen Sotomayor, Research, Instruction and Archives Specialist.

Here are some answers Gretchen gave in a recent interview:

What is your job here at McKillop library?
I am a Research, Instruction and Archives Specialist, so I spend part of my time working at the information desk answering questions and helping people find what they need for their research. I recently started (in April) working in the University Archives and Special Collections, and it sounds like it will be very interesting and busy.

What degree(s) do you have and where did you get them?
I have a BA in Communications, Editorial Journalism, from the University of Washington and a Master’s of Library and Information Studies, from the University of Rhode Island.

What is the best way to contact you?
Through email ([email protected]), as I am moving around to different areas of the library, or by phone at 341-2289 or 341-2281.

What is the best part of your job?
The people. Whether it is helping someone at the Information and Research help desk, or showing a class how to access library resources, I like being able to help people find what they are looking for. We have so many amazing resources and tools here, and while they might seem intimidating at first, it is so much fun to dive into research and explore all that the library has to offer – and I want to share that!

What do you like most about the library?
I love that it is a welcoming place for all – students, faculty, staff, local visitors, Circle of Scholar members. Students fill the various floors, and it is often buzzing with groups meeting to work on projects. Faculty come together here often to celebrate and support each other’s achievements in research. We currently have an exhibit, the Seeking Shelter project with Block Island roots, that honors the faith-based activism of Father Daniel Berrigan and his friend, theologian and civil rights lawyer William Stringfellow, and that has attracted a wide audience to our library.

What library resource do you think is most useful for students and why?
Aside from the eager librarians who enjoy sharing their knowledge, I think the ability to easily search many EBSCO databases simultaneously from our simple search box on the library’s home page offers students a less intimidating way to get started in their research. Also, our very valuable online chat service is available six days a week – we do our best to answer any and all questions!

What are your hobbies and/or personal interests?
I love to travel and explore new cultures, and enjoy spending time outside in the garden, hiking, sailing, biking and walking on the Cliff Walk.

Do you have any pets?
I did have a brave, one-eyed cat who gamely moved with us to the tropics and to Italy, and also lived here in Rhode Island! She preferred the south-facing window, where her bed was situated on top of a radiator, in our Rhode Island house.

Do you have a favorite author and/or quote?
I did have the pleasure of hearing poet Billy Collins recently recite some of his poetry, so here is one to share (as snow is falling outside) as we wait for spring.


If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

What are you reading right now? What do you think about it?
“Feel Free: essays” by Zadie Smith. It’s an eclectic collection of essays on all topics – global warming, growing up in a multicultural environment, Facebook, the current political environment, Joni Mitchell. She is fierce, in examinations of herself and others, which encourages you, the reader, to examine your choices.

Is there something random about you that you’d like us to know?
I have moved every three to four years throughout my life, but Rhode Island, a quirky and beautiful state, has become the place where I have lived the longest – 12 years.

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