Staff Profile: Jeremy Cusker

04/15/19

Who he is: Jeremy Cusker.

What he does: Earth sciences and engineering outreach librarian.

Why it’s important: The primary users of the engineering collections are graduate students and faculty—although we try not to lose sight of our undergraduates. Our researchers need very up-to-the-minute information, often to model industrial processes or see what current engineering standards say or what a particular published researcher in a very specialized field is doing. Sometimes we’re working with researchers in fields, who are not “natural” users of the library and whom we have to find new ways of proving our value to. Computer scientists, for instance, are much more interested in conference publications than they are in traditional journal literature, whereas in most fields, conference papers are considered “secondary” literature and are poorly indexed.

Where he’s from: I spent most of my growing-up years in Buffalo, New York.

Background: I was a developmental psychology major at Cornell. I got married a week after graduating and then moved to Wisconsin with my wife, Teresa, who was already working on an engineering graduate degree. I went to work for some nonprofit organizations; I got to do some righteous stuff like sue health insurers on behalf of the families of sick or disabled children who’d been improperly denied benefits. I was being sent down the street by the attorneys to the law library at the University of Wisconsin to check citations or up the street the other way to drop off court filings.

Education: After a few years of working for lawyers, I’d decided I didn’t want to be one myself. But I was constantly working with librarians and decided to go to the University of Wisconsin School of Library Studies. It was a great program, and I really enjoyed it.

How long at Cornell: After we came back to Ithaca—my wife got a job at a lab here in 2008—I went to work for the library that year, and I’ve been here ever since. So it’s been over 10 years now.

Best part of his job: I especially like working with undergraduates and graduates in earth and atmospheric sciences. Nobody becomes a geologist or atmospheric scientist because their parents tell them it’s a good career choice—even though if they want to make money, they can definitely do so by working for an oil company—so they just have a level of energy and enthusiasm about what they’re learning that isn’t always there with other students.

In his spare time: I’ve got a wife and eight-year-old son, and we do a lot of traveling.

Also, a lot of my “free time” is taken up by being a volunteer with Cayuga Heights Fire Department. It’s an all-volunteer department, and I joined in 2015 after I decided I just needed “something else” in my life and certainly the fire service will take all the time you have to give it. There’s always another training to go to. And it’s a great group of people, many of them younger, stronger, and smarter than me. But we’re part of a team and everyone seems dedicated to helping and teaching each other.