Staff profile: Jonathan Frankel


In this LibeScope series, interviews with library staff reveal their skills, talents, interests and backgrounds.

Who he is: Jonathan Frankel, Supervisor of Stacks Management

What he does:  I supervise the people who take care of the physical collections in Olin, Kroch, and Uris; we are responsible for monographs, newspapers and serials as well as microfilm and fiche. We shelve returning books, shifting the collection when needed. We also run quality control on lost and missing books to ensure that the catalog accurately reflects the status of an item. When necessary, we coordinate major book moves and consult with other libraries on campus when they need to move or shift their collections.   

Why it’s important: My job is as important as the physical collections themselves. My work is fundamental to the success of the significant work of Cornell University. When my team and I do our job correctly, researchers can find the items they need. There are 2.5 million books and 280,000 circulating items; chaos can quickly set in!

Where he comes from:  I grew up in Westchester, NY, and lived for many years in New York City. I feel most at home in Manhattan.

Education: The attractions of New York City lured me away from Oberlin.

Years at Cornell:  It’s been almost 23 years to the day!

Background: I’ve been around books my entire working life. When I walked into the Olin stacks for my interview, my jaw just dropped. I’d never seen so many books in one place. Over the next 15 years, I worked as a floor manager, while also writing four novels and raising five children.

What he’s most proud of: When I moved into this position in 2007, I quickly learned that my job was much bigger than I anticipated. I had to figure out how to remap the collections for the Olin renovation project. That was a huge project, for which we had to invent mapping tools to create detailed plans and work closely with many other departments. Of course, renovation never happened, but I’m really proud that those tools and those relationships have made later projects easier and, I think, more successful.

I’m also really honored that my team and I received the 2014 Cornell University Library Outstanding Performance Award.

Best part of his job: I love planning book moves with lots of complicated spreadsheets. It’s like solving a giant puzzle.

In his spare time: In my spare time I am a novelist and a poet. I actually have a novel coming out soon! I write literary sci fi and am currently working on my sixth novel.

Dream job: My dream job would be to make a living by writing. But not just novels and poetry. I’d like to use my writing skills to promote food and environmental issues particularly to low- and middle-income families. Combining the things I care about would allow me to give back to my community.