If you have ever called Jake Speer’s office at the Indiana State Library (ISL), then you have most likely spoken to Angela Downs. Angela is the administrative assistant for the director’s office on the fourth floor of the state library. She has been an employee at ISL for a long time and had a lot of interesting points of discussion during our conversation.
RB: Why did you try to trick me? [Laughing] You tried to say you wanted to do this interview yesterday, when you knew that we didn’t have to work.
AD: [Laughing] I thought it was funny just to play a little joke on you and I thought you would forget about it.
RB: So…you have been asking me when I was going to interview you and when it comes time, you try to trick me into not interviewing you…
AD: Yes, I did.
RB: Okay. I just wanted to get that on record.
AD: I didn’t think you would catch it.
RB: How long have you been working at ISL, and what led you to working here?
AD: In April it will be 16 years. I went through a program called “Training, Inc.” and I did my internship at the State Personnel Department. When I was over there I put in a lot of applications and the library was the first one to call me.
RB: Is that a program at a high school?
AD: No. It is a career training center, not at a high school.
RB: What did you do before you entered that program?
AD: I worked as a CNA. I did that for three years.
AD: Certified Nursing Assistant.
RB: Why do people in government like to use acronyms so much?
AD: Shoot…you got me. I guess sometimes the words are just too long to say.
RB: True, but anyone outside of government doesn’t know what the heck we are talking about.
RB: What did you do when you first started here?
AD: I was a secretary for reference. Then I went to CSD and I was promoted to library tech. Then I would work in Talking Books, genealogy, and I did a little work for catalogue. That’s how I know so many different people also. I was all around the building.
RB: When did you move to your current job?
RB: Oh, so this is a new position for you?
AD: Yep, totally new.
RB: I’ve heard that in the past there were people who worked here 25 or more years. When did a lot of those people start retiring?
AD: Maybe in the last five to ten years…I have to say CSD was a really fun department. We would have all these fun cookouts and pitch-ins. That’s one thing I really miss about CSD is we were like a whole. We were together. When one person would slip, you never said, “You are making a mistake.” We just went in and did what we had to do and help that person out. It was never a comparison, because we knew that being at CSD, you work as a team. You didn’t work against each other, you worked together.
RB: Did you work with Scott?
AD: Yes, towards the end.
RB: Tell me about your love for Scott Lambert…
AD: Scott is nice, but he is very nerve wracking. He started off as shy when he first got here, but then came out of his shell.
RB: I can’t imagine him being shy. What are some of the positive things you have seen here?
AD: Over all the years I have been here?
RB: Or recently…
AD: I like Jake. I think Jake is a really good person. He makes me feel wanted. Sometimes I don’t feel like that. I also like that some of the staff is not afraid to laugh. They are not afraid to communicate with other departments. I can’t say that for all staff, but most staff is like that. It’s about serving the patrons, it isn’t about us. I also like Wendy and Katrice. Wendy and Jake always take the time to explain things – they take the opportunity to teach employees when there is an issue or an opportunity to learn. I think Katrice has added a lot as head of finance. It seems like things on that end are a lot more organized since she has been here.
RB: Would you say that laughter is essential in the workplace?
AD: Yes. [Laughing] Yes! Without laughter, I don’t think you can get through the day.
RB: [Pointing at his self] can you think of another thing positive that has happened recently at the ISL?
AD: Oh yeah, Ryan Brown…of course! [Laughing] He is just excellent because he is doing it like…no, but for real [laughing].
AD: Yeah, I like what you are doing. At least with these interviews if I don’t know a person, I can read about them more. Hopefully I will remember what they said.
RB: Why do you like to give me such a hard time?
AD: It’s fun! [Laughing] It makes my day! I do, I love it. I love giving you a hard time because it’s fun. You get me. You get my jokes. It’s fun. I like your facial expressions.
RB: So you are saying I look funny?
AD: [Nervously laughing] No…as I give you answers to your questions, the looks you give me makes me laugh.
RB: What do you like to do for fun?
AD: Ooh, I love hanging out with my family and my friends for fun!
RB: What kind of things do you do?
AD: Once a month my family all gets together and we play games and talk. Just have a good time with each other. Cook and eat.
RB: Do you like to cook?
AD: Yes I do. I love eating.
RB: What do you make the best?
AD: Taco soup. My family loves my taco soup.
RB: What does that have in it?
AD: It has ground turkey, tomatoes, corn, beans, dry taco seasoning, tortillas…it is something that is real easy.
RB: That sounds good. My mom makes a soup that you would think sounds kinda weird, but it is actually really good.
AD: What is it called?
RB: Stuffed pepper soup. You know how you stuff peppers with ground beef? It is all of those ingredients in a soup.
AD: Ooh…you need to get that recipe for me. I bet you that is good.
RB: I will. What do you like best of all the things in the ISL building?
AD: The stacks.
RB: How come?
AD: It’s quite. It’s a place where you can get away. I really like the stacks the best. When I’m frustrated and going through some stuff, I just go into the stacks so I can be by myself. Too many people never go in the stacks, but the stacks are my favorite.
RB: Have you ever seen a ghost in there?
AD: Nope. [Chuckling] Believe me, and I’m not trying to find one!
RB: I haven’t seen one either, but there are some people who are convinced that there are ghosts in there.
AD: No, I have been here 16 years and I have never run into a ghost. I have had people try to trick me into thinking there was a ghost and have their hands coming out of areas where I was shelving books, but never a ghost.
RB: That would be scary.
AD: Yeah, it was.
This blog post was written by ISL Communications Director Ryan Brown. For more information about the Indiana State Library, please visit http://in.gov/library/.