Q&A with RU librarian David Sirka
David Sirka is Rochester University’s electronic resource librarian. He makes sure the library website is up-to-date and functional. He also ensures that students and professors are able to access library materials online.
What brought you to RU and why did you choose to work here? “My coworker, Susan, and I used to work together at Baker College in Flint and she worked here as well part-time and so a job opened up here and she told me about it. I really like it here and I like working for a Christian university. I’ve worked at both and it’s so much better. You have a common ground with everyone you work with and you can share that part of your life with people.”
What’s the easiest and hardest part of your job?
“The easiest part is checking out books. It’s pretty routine, but I get to talk to people for half a minute, which is the perfect length for a conversation. Then I can get back to work. The hardest part of my job is working with the library system, the back-end stuff. It’s really complicated. I don’t know who created it but they made it more complicated than it had to be so it’s hard to figure out. I feel like I need to be a software engineer to figure it out.”
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
“Helping people. Sometimes students come in and they’re really frazzled because they have an assignment and they have to find a bunch of resources for it or they don’t know where to start looking for information. If I’m able to help them, I can see them over time become more relaxed and confident and leave feeling ready to complete their assignment.”
What do you do outside of your job to stay sane, relieve stress, etc.? Or what are your hobbies? “This is going to sound really weird, but I like going to grocery stores when I don’t have anything to buy and just walking around for an hour or two. I don’t know why that makes me feel better! Grocery stores here are so big, so there are a million things that I haven’t had before and just seeing what other people use is so interesting. It’s not really a hobby, though. I like watching basketball.”
Where did you grow up?
“I grew up in a small town called Leamington over in Ontario, Canada. It’s about half an hour across the border. It’s right next to a national park. I used to go on field trips to the national park every year since it was so convenient. Actually, I’ve never gone there just for fun by myself or with a group of friends.”
What is your favorite thing to do in the Rochester area? Or in Michigan?
“I like that really big Barnes and Noble on Rochester Road. I like walking the downtown area, but I’ve never walked it when the Christmas lights are up. I like going to the DIA too.”
What is your most prized possession?
“My dog. I’ve had her for four years, but she’s a little older than that. She was a rescue and she was really sick, so her owner couldn’t afford to give her medical treatment. They left the dog at the vet and we got it from the vet.”
What is your most embarrassing moment?
“This was actually a long time ago. I used to play guitar at my church when I was a teenager and for some reason, our music group at the church was invited to play at this larger church for an event for a few songs. So we got there and there was a stage and everything, and all this equipment that we’d never seen before. They gave us no time to practice or get set-up so we got up there and we couldn’t hear ourselves at all, so we didn’t know if we were doing good or bad. We found out pretty quickly because we saw the faces of the people in the front row and we must’ve been absolutely horrible. We left immediately after and we didn’t say goodbye to anyone. We didn’t even have to say it to one another. We just got our stuff together and left.”
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
“When I was in grad school getting my library degree, I was trying to finish it completely in one year so I was really stressed out and overwhelmed. To keep awake, I started to take caffeine pills. The first time I took them I took two and I immediately started getting panic attacks. For the next three or four months, I’d have panic attacks multiple times a day. I’m still not sure how I did it, but I was able to work through that and finish school at the same time.”
Who was your biggest influence? “Randy Lepp was my high school history teacher. I was not a good student in high school. I hated high school and I didn’t really apply myself in classes except for his. He had this way of teaching where it was like he treated you like an adult and taught his class like a college lecture. For some reason, I did really well with that environment, so it gave me the confidence to keep going in my education. I’m not sure, without that, if I would’ve thought I was capable or good enough to go on to university.”