Justin Daras is a Reference Librarian here at the Henry Whittemore Library.
Can you tell us a little bit about your job?
My work here is to help people use the library and its resources. Some students need help searching for books and articles, and another part of my job is to help students think about their assignments, to figure out what they’re looking for and why. Inherent in academic research is the process of uncovering initial beliefs, searching and encountering the literature, and developing something original to say about all of that. It involves change, and recognizing assumptions. It’s hard, and that’s where students struggle. But it’s why you go to college, and how you grow as a person. We’ve all been there!
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I take care of my young daughter full time during the days, and work evenings—so I can relate to many of the students I work with at night. Putting your education first—above food and sleep, and a million other responsibilities—is a hard thing to do, and requires a lot of sacrifice. I admire the dedication I see in FSU students.
My priorities in life are to be a good father, partner, and librarian. I received my M.S. from Simmons College and attended Temple University for a B.A. in Philosophy. The organization of ideas has always interested me, as well as logic and ethics.
How does the library contribute to the campus community?
Libraries promote freedom, and we’re here to help all members of the FSU community exercise their minds and achieve their academic goals. Being a librarian is to be in service to society. Especially if you turn on the TV and don’t see people who look like you, if your interests aren’t reflected in popular opinion, and if your values have been marginalized by close minded people. The library is a place of free speech and free association. I’m proud of the work being done here at FSU to create an inclusive community. The library isn’t just a place for books; we’re here to support people discovering themselves and their voices. Diversity, inclusiveness, service, and free speech are central tenets of librarianship, and I think people don’t always think of us that way. Libraries are places to be.
Is there anything most people don’t know about you?
My somewhat neglected love of the ancient near east. Going to the UPenn Museum of Archeology and Anthropology and seeing some of the earliest examples of writing was life changing for me. People had been using language for a long time, but at some point it started to be written down in a way that lasted long enough for us later humans to read it. How did people feel back then, and why did they feel the ways they did? To have a personal reaction to a poem written down roughly 3,000 years ago is a humbling way of feeling connected to the deep history of being human.