If you attended the Genealogy and Local History Fair or have stopped by the library in the past few months, you may have noticed Stephanie Asberry. Stephanie started at the Indiana State Library (ISL) this summer as the new genealogy division supervisor and has successfully acclimated herself into her new job. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Stephanie and have a conversation about her experiences so far at the library.
RB: You come to the ISL from the Tennessee State Library. Tell me about where you went to school, what you were doing in Tennessee, and how you came here…
SS: I did my undergrad at Ball State.
RB: Oh yeah? What year?
SS: Well, I graduated in 1992. I’m putting an age on myself right there [Chuckling] and then I went to Oregon State…I did my undergrad in political science and then I went to Oregon State and got a degree in History. Then I moved to Michigan and completed my Master of Library Science at Wayne State University. I graduated in 2004 from there. When I was at Ball State my family moved down to Nashville, so that was one of the first resumes I sent out when I was getting ready to graduate.
RB: I was wondering, because I didn’t hear any southern accent…
SS: Nope [Chuckling].
RB: And we are both Ball State alumni.
SS: Okay, well that’s pretty cool. When did you graduate?
RB: ’02 T-COM undergrad.
SS: Oh, is that the David Letterman building?
RB: It is now…it wasn’t when I was there. When I was there they were in the process of getting all this new equipment and within a year or so of when I graduated they had all of the new stuff.
SS: That’s cool. I was hired as the public services librarian at the Tennessee State Library and Archives in 2004. Their librarian classifications are the opposite of what we do here, so I started off as a Librarian One and a couple years later went up to a Librarian Two. I was in public services for almost six years. Most of the researchers were genealogy researchers, and we also helped the general public and legislators or state workers that came through needing research assistance. I later moved to director of library technical services and I was doing that for about five years. I think after about five years of being in the basement [chuckling], because we were in the basement in library technical services, I was ready to see the light again. Plus I wanted to get back to Indiana, because I did grow up here. That’s when I started to look for a job here.
RB: Would you say the reason you chose the ISL is because you wanted to get back to Indianapolis?
SS: Yes. I wanted to get back to Indianapolis and also since I worked at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, I had the state library background and was familiar with and enjoyed that type of work.
RB: Do you miss Nashville?
SS: There are parts of it that I miss, like all of the various musical things that would go on downtown. Because we were located downtown and it is very pretty there, but there are a lot of other things I don’t miss as well like the traffic around the Country Music Awards and the humidity in the summer – which is absolutely hideous.
RB: What was Ball State like in the early 1990s?
SS: Um, Ball State, I’m not sure if it has changed much…
RB: They have about 10 new buildings now…
SS: [Chuckling] well, yeah…there is that. I’m sure they have changed in that way. I don’t know, it was a good size for me because I certainly didn’t want to go away from home and end up at a huge university.
RB: Where did you grow up?
SS: In New Castle. So that being a fairly small town and Muncie was just a half-an-hour away from there, it made it easier on me.
RB: I look back at my senior year book in high school and you know how it always has your senior picture and what you what school you are planning on attending? Mine said that I was going to be attending IU, but I didn’t end up going to IU as an undergrad. I think I decided on Ball State because it was smaller and you felt like it was more hands-on. IU is huge and most of your classes would be with hundreds of people.
SS: Yeah, I only had a few classes where it was in an auditorium.
RB: Me too. It was just the general studies courses.
What are some of the similarities and differences between the Indiana State Library and the Tennessee State Library?
SS: I think the similarities are trying to keep up with and adapt to all of the changes in technology, electronic government publications, putting up digital collections, and trying to keep up with all of that. The differences are the way the divisions or sections within the library are divided up. At the Tennessee State Library and Archives, all public services librarians are in one section and help researchers with genealogy, as well as other types of research. Whereas, at ISL, there is an entire section for genealogy.
RB: You started here on June 22 of this year. Do you think you have adjusted well to the job?
SS: I do. I’m still learning new things everyday – and I’m sure I will for quite some time – but, yeah I think I have been.
RB: What are some of the positive aspects of this job?
SS: The people.
RB: So you are saying that Indiana people are cooler than Tennesseans?
SS: [Chuckling] mmm hmm, yeah. There seems to be a cooperative effort here, and I see people working well together.
RB: What are some of the challenges you have faced so far?
SS: I think just the timing of when I came in and how things were gearing up for the Genealogy and Local History Fair. The timing with preparation for the fair and getting settled in to the position and everything else that goes along with that was probably the challenging part.
RB: How do you think the Genealogy and Local History Fair went?
SS: I think it went really well. I really enjoyed the speakers. Keven McQueen had some great stories and was funny!
RB: He had a very dry sense of humor, but he was funny.
SS: Yeah, he was pretty dry, but his stories were pretty funny…and then Judy, I really enjoyed her.
RB: She was a really good speaker. The first big event I was on was Government Information Day and we had Davita Vance-Cooks who is the director come speak. She was a really great speaker as well. We have had a lot of good people come and speak at the library this year.
SS: I had heard that Judy Russell was good, but I hadn’t heard her speak before.
RB: She was great! I took some really good pictures of her facial expressions.
Are you a cat person or a dog person?
SS: I am definitely a dog person.
RB: Wow, we are breaking all kinds of rules here at ISL.
SS: Yeah, most librarians it seems are cat people. I have worked with librarians that would not tell me how many cats they had.
RB: That’s scary!
SS: I have two large dogs. I think I’ve had a dog since I was very, very young.
RB: What kind of dogs are they?
SS: They are both Lab mixes. They pretty much look like Labs.
RB: Are they rescue dogs?
SS: They are both rescue dogs. One I got from a foster home and the other one I adopted directly from the Nashville Animal Control.
RB: What do you do for fun?
SS: Well, I have two kids, so most of my fun is whatever they want to do. Before that, I used to go camping quite a bit and hiking.
RB: Is that what attracted you to Oregon?
SS: Yes, it is. When I was out there, that was mostly what I did when I wasn’t working or going to school.
This blog post was written by Indiana State Library Communications Director Ryan Brown. For more information about the ISL click here.