Meet the Cedar Rapids Public Library staff
This week we’re introducing Patron Services Specialist Sampurna Ghosh, as part of our series on the employees who make the Library great. Sampurna started at the Library in September 2019, and primarily works downtown.
What does your job typically include?
I like to think of my role as a hub of information and my primary responsibility is to serve people by connecting the right person to the right resource and information. On a typical day, I meet people, listen to their queries, requests, concerns, observations, and suggestions – in person, over the phone, or through chat – and help them find the right solutions. I like to be the sounding board for my patrons and direct them to the right help, be it finding the right book or library item, or helping them on the printer, scanner, fax machine, or computer, or even directing them to the right Reference Librarian.
I like to work with children and seniors. Nothing makes me happier than to see a child’s face light up after I help find the right books or see an elderly person happy and relieved with my help on the computer. I want every human being who enters the Cedar Rapids Public Library to feel they have a place where their concerns will be heard and accepted and resolved with utmost dignity.
What made you want to work here?
I was absolutely smitten by the ambiance of this library even before I became a staff member here. The high ceilings, long corridors, open book shelves, ever-helpful attitude of the staff, and the happy faces of patrons inside made me feel this place was a temple of positivity. We moved to Cedar Rapids in January of 2019. I first visited this library on January 22 and then couple of times soon after, and I applied for my job in the summer. It was like a cosmic connection: I felt I belonged here! I was returning to work after a hiatus of 15 years, so I wanted to work at an organization where I could feel a connection. And this was the place!
What’s your favorite part about working here?
The answer is again: the ambiance. The positivity inside the library is so palpable that somedays I feel I can almost touch it. The feeling of service and doing good for others is a mission here, and everybody is channeled towards that. On my first week of working here, my supervisor told me, “This is one place where everybody has the dignity of being human.” And that sentence has stayed with me forever. This is the kind of world I want to live in and want our future generations to inhabit.
I feel proud that I belong here. This pride and sense of belonging and the ability to serve for a better world always puts a spring in my step when I enter through the doors of this temple. The most important organic requirement for my job is kindness and empathy. How many jobs or careers will have that as one of the primary criteria? We make living better.
My other favorite ‘why here’ is the awesome team. I often boast that we have the best team in the world, and rightly so. This is the kind of team that pulls you up when you are low and motivates you to do better and better every single day. Each one of us is committed to the common goal, respects the common vision, and supports the mission. And the amazing leadership team here facilitates and supports us continuously. Honestly, coming to the Cedar Rapids Public Library never feels like coming to work. It feels more like going home to family.
Do you have any moments or stories from the Library that stand out that you would want to share with patrons?
I have loads of heart warming stories of working at the Cedar Rapids Public Library. The most recent one was during my interaction with a teenager who, unfortunately, had always felt too overwhelmed to enter a library. He believed he did not belong here. He was nervous to even pick a book from the shelf. On that fine morning, he was in the library with a friend who wanted to use the computer and the internet. While we were talking, I got him his own library card, and we went around the first floor of the library, and he asked me, “Can I read any book that I want? Can I come here everyday?” The simplicity and the beauty of his innocence struck a chord in me. My answers to his questions opened up a new world of possibilities for him. He was genuinely excited. It is these kinds of simple yet powerful interactions that make my days so fulfilling here.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
When not working, I like to read, sing, write and listen to or watch news documentaries. But on most days that’s “my wish.” In reality, I run around a 16-year-old human son and 2-year-old furry son and put up with their tantrums.
What’s your favorite book genre? Why?
I like to read creative non-fiction. I am always drawn to relatable materials. Maybe my past experience in journalism has forced me to see the real picture rather than the imagined picture! Or plainly speaking, on a non-serious note, I have lost my sense of imagination.
Do you have a favorite book or author? What do you like about them?
My current favorites are Jhumpa Lahiri and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. They are both post-colonial/commonwealth transnational writers and write on existential issues mixed with rich servings of historiography. I like the blend of history and fiction in their works. I can relate to their writings.
If you could pick a superpower, what would it be?
I would love to time travel and look into the future.