Staff profile: Carrie Cooper

03/10/15

Creating a workplace culture from Dark Matter to Mann Library.

Who she is: Carrie Cooper, public services desk coordinator, Mann Library.

What she does: The bulk of my daily responsibilities are managing our crew of 40+ student employees working in access services at Mann. I work with a team of four student managers, responsible for hiring, training, and scheduling all of our students who work the front line at both the circulation and printing help desks.

I also coordinate with the other staff members in Access Services to take turns as the go-to person if student employees have questions they can’t answer or situations they can’t manage. This way, student employees are supported and no one staff person has to be on the desk 100% of the time.

Why it’s important: We want to provide students with real-world experience in a job environment that will help them understand what they’ll be facing once they exit the academic bubble. So professional development, team building, leadership development — it’s all about creating a positive culture in a workplace.

Where she comes from: I grew up in the Indianapolis area, but I feel like Chicago is my hometown.

Education: I have a bachelor’s degree in art from Heron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis. Since coming to Cornell I’ve been taking classes in ILR: HR management, team-building and workplace development. It’s been amazingly applicable to my job already.

Background: After college, I moved to Chicago and fell in with a really charismatic guy, helping him run a little neighborhood café. After we got the business going, we eventually became partners — so now, I’m a partner in Dark Matter Coffee, a large and growing coffee company in Chicago. We started with a single café and, like most small businesses, barely kept the roof over our heads. Now we have three cafés and a wholesale operation with over 40 employees.

Years at Cornell: One and a half.

What she’s most proud of: We kicked off this school year with a student employee boot camp and got everyone together at the same time, which is a feat. We did a simulation game with different troubleshooting scenarios. Our aim was to cross-train students between service points, so they had the opportunity to learn what happens at both the circulation and printing help desks. Most importantly, we wanted them to have a true sense of their workplace and who their colleagues are, and I think the boot camp did a great job of helping us achieve that.

Best part of her job: I’m super-proud of the student employment program here at Mann and also of everything Dark Matter does. There’s so much crossover in terms of team-building and creating a positive workplace culture and I like that I can apply a lot what I’ve tried to do at Dark Matter to my work here.

Mann is cool because everyone is so interested in what they’re doing here at work, but everyone also has something else that they’re passionate about. It makes the Library such a rich and vibrant environment. Did I mention I play music with one of my co-workers? In fact, a bunch of Mann folks are musical. I love that!

In her spare time: I play roller derby with the Ithaca League of Women Rollers BlueStockings – go Blues! I also sit on the board of Ithaca Underground. We support and promote DIY and underground music, so we’re putting on all-ages shows and, again, my focus has been on team-building and creating a really robust core of great volunteers.

Dream job: My dream job would be to become the people person for Dark Matter – the vice president of people. Is that a good title? I’d love to help develop all the training programs, and take people on team-building and leadership trips to countries of origin, and to safeguard our workplace culture. And my second dream job is to be an art teacher in Italy or Spain.

In this LibeScope series, interviews with library staff reveal their skills, talents, interests and backgrounds. Want to suggest a staff member for a profile? Email libcomm@cornell.edu.