Staff profile: Nick Cappadona

How do you help build the Library's next-generation search experience?

Who he is: Nick Cappadona, interface designer at Mann Library

What he does: On any given day, I'm collaborating with my colleagues at Mann to help patrons use our Library more easily and efficiently. Usually my efforts are focused on the flow of information, whether that's through our websites and web apps, digital signage or learning technologies.

Right now, I’m working on the Discovery and Access project, as a member of the user experience team. We're developing the next generation search experience for the Library, with the main vision of having a single search that searches everything. We’re starting with the library catalog, discovering patterns of user behavior, which guides our adjusting and tweaking.

Why it’s important: We’re trying to reduce the burden on a user searching the Library's collection of resources. We don’t want people to have to ask, “Do I need to search in Box A or Box B, and what’s behind Door C?” We want to make it so there’s only one place to search, as simple as possible, so people can get different types of results and then drill down. We want to just say, “Search here to find everything.”

Where he comes from: I grew up in New Jersey, and moved back in 2008 while still working for the Library. My wife and I wanted to move close to family as we started our own — our grandparents were a big part of our childhood, and we wanted that for our kids too.

It was a huge help that I worked at Mann for four years before starting to work remotely, because I had the opportunity to build those relationships with my colleagues. That makes all the difference in the world.

Education: I went to school at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. My undergrad degree is in biology. My graduate degree is also from Lehigh, in instructional design and development.

Years at Cornell: I started in 2004, working with CIT for a year, and then I transferred over to Mann in 2005.

What he’s most proud of: There have been many, but to name just one, a few years ago, we worked with Prof. Bill Arms. His computer science class pairs teams of students with different organizations and departments on campus, and we submitted a project back in 2007. Together with Howard Raskin and Jeff Piestrak, I advised a group of six students as they built our SmartMap at Mann Library. I helped them identify the functionality we needed and also assisted them with the actual implementation. It was really a great experience.

I have a bit of a mixed background, and this was one of my first projects at Mann where I was able to expand on my interests in education and let that flourish. The students got a lot out of it, and so did we.

Best part of his job: The commute’s great! But really, the main reason I’ve stayed on this long remotely is because of the people I work with. While I love that my job has evolved over the years and I’m able to take on different roles at the whole Library, beyond just Mann, I always fall back to the people I work with, just because that’s kind of what's important to me and my personality.

In his spare time: My wife and I have a daughter who just turned a year old. Outside of chasing Natalie around and watching her grow up, I coach lacrosse, which I’ve been doing for 12 years or so at all different levels. I’m also a hobbyist carpenter. My father’s a real carpenter and I guess I picked up a thing or two after all those years as his gopher — I recently built a shed at my house, and hopefully one day, it’ll be my little workshop.

Dream job: My dream job would be either a furniture-maker or a luthier — someone who makes string instruments like violins and guitars. There’s something in that meticulous detail that draws me in.

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