Staff Profile: Noah Hamm


Who he is: Noah Hamm, reference and information desk coordinator at Mann Library.

What he does:   I offer research assistance and information at the reference desk and coordinate the efforts of our students and part time staff.  I also help with USDA report subscription and inquiries, geographic information systems (GIS) consultation, instruction, and outreach.

Why it’s important: I help people understand and make the most of the Library’s resources. Whether it’s teaching a new student how to use the printers or to find a course reserve item, or assisting a faculty member who’s looking for open access publishing information or fair use copyright guidelines.  The Library has so much to offer and patrons really benefit from having a guide to show the way.

Where he’s from: I’ve moved around a bit:  from Westerly, Rhode Island to Riverdale, New York to Bishop, California to Ashland, Wisconsin. Now I live in Caroline.

Education: The scientific method.  I think my most valuable education has come from trial and error as well as from the many wonderful people I’ve met over the years.  I have a bachelor’s degree in biology from Northland College in Ashland. 

Years at Cornell: 14. I’ve held several different positions, including research support specialist in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, manager of the 160-acre Cornell Experimental Ponds facility, and member of the reference staff at Mann Library. 

Background: I’ve always had a real interest in earth and animal sciences, ecology, conservation, and teaching.  I also enjoy adventure and hands-on challenges. After college, I did quite a bit of biological fieldwork for the land management agencies in eastern California. I explored caves for bat hibernacula and climbed mountains to survey bighorn sheep populations.  I especially enjoyed working with the Point Reyes bird observatory doing bird banding and nest searching in the Eastern Sierra, where I met Cornell Professor David Winkler. A few years later I bought property in Caroline and started working with Winkler on his long-term study of tree swallows in Tompkins County.   

 What he’s most proud of: I feel like the most meaningful interactions I have at work are those where I can offer guidance to people who need help navigating the complex and often overwhelming realm of academic library research.  I like opening the door for people and showing them the library resources and expertise that can help them succeed.  

I am also proud of building my own solar-powered family home and raising two lovely children with my wife Erin.

Best part of his job: I’m always curious what people are thinking about and studying.  Getting to hear about their research focus and helping them a bit along the way is very rewarding.  The work I do is often really appreciated - I think I’m very lucky in that regard.   

In his spare time: There’s not too much of it, but I like to spend time with my family and enjoy the simple pleasures of living in the country, like listening to the spring peepers and chopping firewood.  I’ve started teaching myself to play piano in the last couple of years and am really enjoying that.

Dream job: Being a Renaissance-man-in-training (with a generous benefactor).  I have so many different interests that I would indulge and so many different skills I’d like to learn.