Staff profile: Patrizia Sione

Helping students appreciate the complexity of the human record.

Who she is: Patrizia Sione, research archivist at the Kheel Center, which is part of the the Hotel, Labor and Management Library.

What she does: I answer reference questions and coordinate public services for the Kheel Center, and I’m the editor of the Triangle Fire website.

I also teach courses at ILR. This spring, I’m teaching a sophomore writing class: “Uncovering Corporate Strategies: Case Studies from the 20th Century.” This course focuses on managers' sense of identity of themselves and of workers, and examines how this sense of identity affects relations in the workplace. The course will be writing intensive, and I’m excited to help ILR students meet this writing requirement in a new and interesting way.

Why it’s important: My job is all about helping people — students, scholars, the public —appreciate history and the wonderful complexity of the human record.

Where she comes from: I was born in a town called Udine in northeastern Italy, on the other side of the Alps from Austria.

I attended the University of Trieste, near where I grew up. I had a great American professor there who made me appreciate how different and fascinating American history was. It felt like an intellectual adventure!

Education: When I realized I wanted to study U.S. history, I decided to drop everything and come to the United States. I enrolled in a master’s program at Syracuse and got my Ph.D. from Binghamton, studying American history with a concentration in immigration and labor.

And then, going into the archival professional was a logical next step, because I love working with primary sources and facilitating the knowledge of history in others.

Years at Cornell: In 1994 and1995, I was a visiting assistant professor at ILR, teaching the labor history survey and electives in women’s history and immigration history. I came back to Cornell in 1997 to work for the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections for two years, doing some processing, cataloging and reference work. Then this job at the Kheel Center opened up and I applied for it. It was perfect for me.

Most memorable moment: A few years ago, a high school student working on a National History Day project was really moved by the personal stories she read on the Triangle Fire website. She asked me some reference questions over email and I helped her find some sources, and we had several back-and-forth conversations.

Then she told me she’d decided to apply to ILR because our website introduced her to labor history and social justice, and she was accepted! When she was here, we continued to talk and she got a job at the Kheel Center. She became part of our family, part of the ILR family.

Best part of her job: Seeing the spark of discovery and excitement in a student’s eyes.

In her spare time: I love gardening, bird-watching, hiking… I’m an outdoors kind of person. But I also love to read science fiction — I’ve been reading it since I was 10 years old!

Dream job: Of course I really like my job here, but I would love to be a science-fiction writer!

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