The University of Washington Libraries have 97 endowments, from the Kenneth S. and Faye G. Allen Library Endowment to the Yasuko Endo Endowment for Japanese collections. Each one provides vital support, allowing the Libraries to adapt to the changing needs of diverse users in Washington state and around the world.
There are 16 libraries at the University of Washington, each with unique services and collections. Each library also has student employees who help provide access to the staggering breadth of materials available and help magnify the impact of librarians. Without student employees, it would be difficult for the University of Washington Libraries to function. And without the Libraries Student Employee Endowed Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to students who work in the UW Libraries, many students wouldn’t have the opportunity to pursue their goals while expanding their professional experience and intellectual curiosity.
Kari Morohashi, a graduate student in the Master of Health Administration program at the UW, hopes to find a career in health care. She started working at the Health Sciences Library when she was an undergraduate, eager to get work experience and earn extra income. “It was the perfect fit,” Morohashi says. “This job gave me the opportunity to spend hours with an extensive collection of medical journals, books and reference materials.”
Morohashi’s duties include everything from shelving and scanning to helping new and incoming students with library basics. “Working at the library is one of the best parts of my day,” she says. When she found out she had received a $1,000 Libraries Student Employee Scholarship, she was “honored and humbled.”
Avinash Singh is working toward a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering. “I remember my first day in the Engineering Library, looking in awe at the expansive resources,” he recalls. “That moment motivated me to become part of the UW Libraries system and contribute to this tree of knowledge.”
Singh landed a job at the Built Environments Library, where he tracked periodicals with a pen and paper — at first. “My supervisor gave me the freedom to revamp the system,” he says, “so I migrated the information to spreadsheets.” This migration sped up the tracking process and made his work available to other Libraries staff.
The impact Singh had on the Built Environments Library and the system as a whole wouldn’t have been possible without a Libraries Student Employee Scholarship. “After the initial disbelief of winning, I considered myself fortunate,” he says. “The endowment helped me pay part of my tuition, which was a relief. It also came as a shot in the arm at a time when I had been struggling to keep up with graduate school and my research, and it was a definite boost of confidence.”
Recipients like Morohashi and Singh inspire Judy Tsou, recently retired head of the Music Library, to support student scholarships. But her passion for philanthropy started with her mother, a math teacher. “She helped many students from disadvantaged backgrounds become professionals: mathematicians, engineers, even artists,” says Tsou. “The UW Libraries scholarships allow students to do something extra, such as attend a summer music camp or study abroad for a term. The experiential aspects strike me as the most important for the intellectual development of these students.” Another strong impetus, says Tsou, was an offer from University leadership to match her donation.
According to Tsou, student employees play an integral role in the operations of UW’s user-centered libraries. “We rely heavily on student workers for the library to function smoothly, especially for our circulation operation,” she says. “In the technical services area, we rely on them to process new materials, install new equipment and many more day-to-day tasks.”
Supporting these students not only helps the Libraries run, but it also helps students work toward their dreams. “Pride is a good description,” says Tsou, reflecting on the students who have benefited from the Libraries Student Employee Endowed Scholarship.
For the recipients, the quality of the selection pool doesn’t go unnoticed either. “At the scholarship ceremony, I listened to the amazing essays by the other recipients. It was an honor to be among students doing such excellent work,” says Singh. “I’d like to thank the donors and sponsors of this scholarship for their generosity and for believing in a stranger’s pursuit of knowledge.”
“Many students are so motivated and have so much potential. Sometimes they only need a little more money. I’m so happy with the caliber of students who receive these scholarships.”
– Judy Tsou, former head, Music Library
Hear directly from a few of the 2017 Library Employee scholarship recipients about what working in the libraries means to them: