Staff Profile: Johanna Williams

Who she is: Johanna Williams, circulation student supervisor at Olin Library.

What she does: For years, I have been opening Olin library on weekday mornings for staff and students. My primary responsibility, however, is the hiring, training, scheduling and supervision of up to 35 students each semester. I train students how to properly charge and discharge items, how to use the call number system, and complete evaluations.  

Not only do I teach my students the ins and outs of working at library circulation, but I also teach them how to be good employees, so they can be successful in the work world. I try to instill life lessons like punctuality, prioritization, and people skills into my students—and of course, having fun is important too!

Why it’s important: Quality customer service is particularly important to my job because people need to feel comfortable when asking for help; I try to provide a high level of comfort for everyone I help and I try to teach my students the importance of that skill. The Library is integral to a student’s education and I like to think that I have become a recognizable and trustworthy face for Olin Library users. I pride myself in treating all people with the best customer service I can provide. We all have the skills to help people by giving direction or instruction, but people must first feel at ease to ask. And I think that’s what we provide. The Circulation Desk is a place where people can learn how to use the library and its resources and ask any question without judgment. In order to best use the amazing resources Cornell has to offer, patrons need Circulation!

Where she’s from: Ithaca.

Background: I worked in Dining for 17 years, 10 as a supervisor and 4 years at Libe Café. When this position opened, I applied with the encouragement of friends who work at Olin.

How long at Cornell: I’ve been working at Cornell for 28 years, 11 of which have been as circulation student supervisor.

Best part of her job: The best part of my job is knowing and feeling like it is an absolutely perfect fit for me – especially when it comes to working in such a busy environment with so many diverse people. One of my favorite parts about interacting with a diverse range of people on a daily basis is that I am constantly exposed to different perspectives and opinions.

I feel lucky to have grown up in such a diverse place as Ithaca and to work in a place that also celebrates diversity. In essence, I feel I am exactly where I should be.

In her spare time: Family is always first for me. Spending time with my mother, my boyfriend of 26 years, my friends, and my cousins across the United States is how I most enjoy my time. That, and in the sun, at the beach or taking photos.