Photo of Laura Hutelmyer, courtesy of Rob LeBlanc, First Year Experience & Humanities Librarian.
Reflecting upon Laura Hutelmyer’s career at Falvey Memorial Library, Marianne Watson, Director of Resource Management and Description, described her as an integral part of Falvey’s backbone. Working in almost every area of the Library these past 25 years, Hutelmyer’s contributions have helped shape Falvey into an award-winning Library that supports research, teaching, and learning at Villanova University. Reminiscing on her experiences, Hutelmyer, retiring as Acquisitions & Electronic Resources Coordinator, kindly answered some of my questions on Falvey’s past and future, her favorite Library projects and memories, and her upcoming retirement plans.
Tell me about the beginning of your Falvey Memorial Library journey. How did you hear about the opportunity? What was Falvey Library like in the 90s?
Hutelmyer: I found the advertisement in the newspaper and decided to apply for the job. I was interviewed and began work on the same day! I was the Microfilm and Student Aide Supervisor, and my job was to supervise 25 students who retrieved bound journals from the Bound Stacks (now Falvey West). I also assisted with and maintained the microfilm machines. In 1996 we had six microfilm machines. I started out as a part-time employee working Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I shared the job with Jim Fox who worked at the Library for many years but has since passed away. We were bringing in a new Library system, Voyager, at the time, so I added another day to my schedule to help create the 3,000 plus journal POs and check-in records that needed to be created before we could get rid of the Kardex, the old pencil and paper-based check-in system.
Falvey in the 1990s was a much stricter place. There was no eating in the library and no talking! I can remember students hiding food from us and being required to ask students to please keep quiet. All 3,000 print periodicals were in the room that now houses Holy Grounds. That was considered the Periodical Room. Very few, if any, titles were available electronically. I became a full-time employee in 1997. To my part-time job was added Interlibrary Loan duties to create this full-time job. I reported to Susan Markley for periodicals and Merrill Stein, Political Science Librarian, for Interlibrary Loan.
You worked in so many areas over the course of your 25 years at Falvey Library: circulation, communication and marketing, acquisitions, etc. Could you recount a bit about your time in each department?
Circulation—I began working weekends as the door checker. There was a desk that sat in the middle of the floor right inside the double doors, and it was my job to check students’ IDs as they entered the building. Later, I worked the Circulation Desk on Monday and Wednesday evenings as an information assistant.
Communication and Marketing—I served on the Communication and Marketing team for many years. In the beginning we wrote articles for the Library portion of Blueprints (no longer in publication). I can remember walking to the University Communication offices across Lancaster Avenue to sit and correct galley proofs with a red pen! We also worked on Compass, a library publication that went to staff, alumni, and other constituents and the Library blog. For four years, I was responsible for hosting the Library’s Graphic Novel event. We partnered with the Writing Center and hosted panel discussions and speakers.
Archives—I worked in the University Archives for two years. Fr. Dennis Gallagher, OSA, was the Archivist, and I spent every Thursday from 2-4 p.m. helping label folders, identify photographs, and plan exhibits.
Special Collections—I also worked on the Special Collections team. I scanned many vintage newspapers and worked to put together an exhibit on newspapers in Special Collections (see below).
Acquisitions—This was always my main job. In 25 years, I went from shelving and checking in print journals to managing electronic journals and database subscriptions. I worked closely with RSSE, vendors and the Finance Office.
English/Modern Languages Liaison Team—I worked on this team for two years and helped Librarian Judy Olsen with varied tasks.
How did your Special Collections exhibit come about? How was your experience curating that project?
Hutelmyer: The exhibit was called Extra Extra! Newspapers in Special Collections. Michael Foight, Director of Distinctive Collections & Digital Engagement, asked me if I would be interested in contributing to this exhibit because I’d written my Master’s thesis on Gertrude Mossell, an African American female journalist who wrote an advice column in the New York Freeman in the 1880s. I had collected all her columns as part of my research. Michael knew I was interested in primary materials so he thought this would interest me. I really enjoyed researching the publications in the exhibit and working on this with Laura Bang, Distinctive Collections Librarian, as well as Jean Lutes, PhD, Professor, Department of English (my thesis advisor). I was proud to have my name associated with the exhibit and even made some of my family members come see it!
When did you begin your MA in English at Villanova University?
Hutelmyer: I started my masters in 1999 or 2000 and finished in 2007. It took me six or seven years, taking one course at a time plus writing a thesis, to finish. The department started sending me emails saying my time was running out and that I needed to finish, otherwise, I’d probably still be researching. I love every aspect of the research process and hope to revive my project, this time looking at how exchange publications worked in the 1800s and early 1900s, after I retire. My thesis advisors were Jean Lutes, PhD and Crystal Lucky, PhD, Associate Dean of Baccalaureate Studies, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Associate Professor of English. They were fun, inspiring, and wonderful to work with.
Was there an annual event at Falvey Library or Villanova University that you looked forward to every year? Favorite memories?
Hutelmyer: The only annual event that comes to mind is the staff picnic, which was always held right after graduation. It was nice to see all the university employees and enjoy a day in the sunshine. Personally, I was a member of a small book club that was started by four Library employees in 1997. We would meet at Guilifty’s after work, have dinner, and go to Borders bookstore for coffee and a book discussion. Memories of those meetings are very special to me. I also hold a special fondness for some of my earliest co-workers. Those people not only trained me to do a good job but passed on a lot of institutional knowledge. I also enjoyed going to the plays in Vasey Hall with an assortment of co-workers. We’d always go to dinner and come back to campus for the play.
What is your favorite place on campus, outside of the Library building?
Hutelmyer: In recent years, I’d take a daily walk at lunch to West Campus, up around Picotte Hall at Dundale, the pond, and the soccer field. I’d have to say that is one of my favorite loops because it so peaceful and quiet. It gave me a new perspective of the campus.
How has Falvey changed in the last 25 years? What direction do you see the Library moving towards in a (post-pandemic) future?
Hutelmyer: The biggest change would be the transition from print to electronic. Of course, the buildings have all changed and so have most of the people, but the mission to serve our constituents has remained the same. In the future, I see more remote work and virtual services and an emphasis on open source and free access.
What are you most looking forward to in retirement? Which local historical and cultural institutions do you plan on volunteering with? Is there a specific place that you’d like to travel?
Hutelmyer: I’m looking forward to scheduling my own days! I’ve been a potter for six years, learning and working at the Community Arts Center in Wallingford. My goal is to ramp up to a more professional level. I’m on the board of the Undercover Quilters Quilt Guild and a co-chair for the fall biennial Quilt Show. That will keep me busy for the immediate future. I’m on the board at the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation and am also a natural dyer. I help with the dye gardens at the site and I plan to expand my dyeing techniques. Last but not least, I have these eight fantastic grandchildren. My family is my top priority, and I’d like to spend time with them while they still want to spend time with me! Before the pandemic, I would have given you a list of places I plan to visit, New Mexico and the Lake District of England being at the top, but right now I just want to get in the car and wander.
What are your summer reading recommendations? Which hiking trails would you recommend?
Hutelmyer: I’m a Wyeth fan so I would recommend The Wyeths: the letters of NC Wyeth 1901–1945. I’d also recommend Andrew Wyeth: A Secret Life by Richard Meryman. I love them for their local history. They will make you want to take your easel and go sit in a field, a wonderful thing to do in the summer! I recommend the Rocky Run Trail off Route 1 out near the Wawa Plant. The trail wanders along a stream, into an open field, into farmland. It continues to the Cornucopia Trail which goes around the Old Darlington Family Farm. This is my next hike.
The entire Falvey staff thanks Hutelmyer for her 25 years of service to the Library and the Villanova University community! Best wishes, Laura, and enjoy retirement. Once a Wildcat, Always a Wildcat!
Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.