Stories of SUNY Ulster — Marla Gruner: Family Woman, Educator, Library Scientist

By John Motta and Corinne Carolan

The Stories team recently got an opportunity to conduct an interview with SUNY Ulster’s own charismatic librarian: Marla Gruner. Invariably seated at the help desk, Marla is known for her pleasant helpfulness and the sagacity of her assistance. Entering her office, we are delighted to the smell of fresh coffee, photographs of her two adorable children, and a glowing presence ready to talk.

“I was an English major in college, and I realized there wasn’t a whole lot I could do with an English degree *Laughs*. So I thought, what are my options? I talked to my advisors and they were iffy about it, and I think I took a career quiz and found out that I could go on and get my masters in library science very easily, and I had also worked in a public library when I was in high school and I liked it! It’s not a thrilling story or anything, I was just fortunate enough to have a direct line to working in this field, sort of a straight path…Mostly it’s the people here that I like working with, there are a lot of energetic, fun people to work with. It’s a small community, and unfortunately a lot of people come here from disadvantaged circumstances, so I really enjoy being able to help them in any way; be it finding a book or navigating the site…I’m teaching at F.Y.E. this semester, so I feel like I’m really able to branch out, talk to people and meet more students — that’s one thing about the library is you don’t always necessarily get to know the students very well, you don’t see them as much as their professors might per se. I feel like this is a great opportunity to know more students better…So, yeah, I just really like the community college environment and feel, and with my job specifically, I’m able to do a lot of things in the library, whereas at a larger institution, there might be like ten librarians. So I get to do the job of ten *Smiles*, but in all seriousness it is wonderful and I enjoy it.”

Interesting Tidbit: When asked about the slow decline of the print book and nationally declining book circulation rates, Marla says she is not concerned. She envisions the library of the future as more of a meeting place and help center, as well as a massive digital database. Forever the optimist, Marla is as much a librarian as she is a friend to the campus at large. The next time you find yourself in the library, keep an eye out for Marla and her infectious smile!

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