Spartans of UD: Mary Anne Knefel

May 16, 2018 | University Relations staff

Spartans of UD highlights what makes University of Dubuque special – the people who live, work, and study on campus. Mary Anne Knefel is the university librarian and professor of library and information science. She will retire this summer after almost 38 years of service to UD.

Mary Anne Knefel Spartans of UD
University Librarian and Professor of Library and Information Science

1. Why did you decide to become a UD Spartan?

“As soon as I walked in, I knew I was in the right place, first because of the name of the old library. It was called the Ficke-Laird Library in honor of a student-faculty relationship (Dr. Ficke and Donald Laird). Second, you could eat and drink in the library, which told me that this was a library where people counted more than the books. I was home!”

2. What do you enjoy most about your role as university librarian?

“I love working with the students. The college years are a fascinating time of life, when you come into your own and consider what kind of person you want to be. I don’t mean the career you choose, because that can change, but what you value. You begin to see that there are no easy answers in life, but you have to think how you will contribute to make the world better in whatever way you can.”

3. What are some of your favorite memories from your time at UD?

“There are so many memories that it is hard to pick just one!

“Our Circulation Desk students have always been a blast. The Class of 1996 made a comic book with characters of all the library staff. They called me ‘The Queen of Duh’Nile,’ since I say ‘duh’ so much. I kept that. A student from the Class of 2001 drew plans for the third floor of the library that featured a swimming pool. We didn’t end up doing that J but I kept his drawings. 

“Another memory: Once, during an evening reference shift, a bat flew in and landed on a student’s shoulder. I had to sneak up and tell him to stay very, very still because of the bat on his shoulder. He easily followed my advice because he was frozen in terror. I was able to put a box over the bat and escort him (the bat) outside.

“Finally, who can forget the flash mobs, which we did from 2011-2014? They were a blast.”

4. What are the characteristics a person needs to be a librarian?

“You need to be a careful and empathetic listener. The librarian can bring an understanding of the assignment and expert knowledge of databases, but without connecting with what the student wants to accomplish, everyone can end up frustrated. Empathy also means understanding that students have a lot on their minds and hearts, so that you are present in every interaction for the entire person, not just for the student who needs to accomplish a task.”

5. What book are you reading now?

I love mysteries. In the past few months, I have read almost all of Agatha Christie's novels, but I won’t read the last ones because I don’t want them to end. She is perfection!”