Staff profile: Pete Hoyt

12/04/14

Who he is: Pete Hoyt, application programmer for CUL-IT.

What he does:  My work supports three areas in Cornell’s Library: automating repetitive processes for technical services, providing data feeds between the library and other university offices, and assisting with general tech support.

Why it’s important: Library tasks that lend themselves to automation are those with predictable steps. I recognized the need for additional automation and the Library agreed that it was a worthwhile goal to pursue. I program computers to do that work, allowing humans to spend more time on tasks that require judgment or special attention. Rather than making staff redundant, this automation enables them to do work that would otherwise not get done.

Where he comes from: I’m from the mid-Hudson River area, and I’ve lived in central N. Y. for over 40 years.

Education: I am self-taught in computer programming and have been doing it professionally for about 35 years.

Years at Cornell: I have been working at the Library since 1998; I used to work at what is now CIT in the early ‘80s and was a student at the Ag School in the early ‘70s.

Background: After a few years in college I worked as a hay and straw dealer and then as an over-the-road truck driver. My first computer job was night shift public terminal operator in Upson Hall in 1980. Students submitted jobs to the IBM mainframe via punched cards and received their output from a high speed printer.

What he’s most proud of:  I was home alone on New Year’s Eve 2006, reading, when I got a phone call around 10 p.m. Our PURL (persistent URL) server had been hacked so instead of sending people to library sites it was sending them to websites selling questionable pharmaceuticals. Once I finished my shopping, I rewrote the server and we have been running it ever since.

Best part of his job: I still get to write code although it no longer consists of native instructions to the computer. Now coding is combining existing software into structures and procedures that fulfill a business purpose.

In his spare time: My two teenage children live with me half time and I enjoy them immensely. I have a hobby farm in Slaterville where I grow trees, collect and repair old Farmall tractors, and work with my son in our welding shop. In winter I work outside less and read more. I’m always up for a train ride, usually Amtrak, no matter where it takes me.

Dream job: I’d be steam locomotive engineer for the sheer thrill of all that power and speed, as well as the stature and respect that went with the job. Among the operational challenges are running smoothly to keep the train together and not running out of steam on long grades. Of course, I’d have had to shovel coal for 20 or 30 years before the railroad would let me drive.

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