Library

Alison Ricker

My hometown when I was a student was

​ Battle Creek, Michigan​

I graduated in

1975

I studied

Biology major; Sociology minor​

I currently live in

​ Oberlin Ohio​

I am now

Science Librarian at Oberlin College, and head of the Science Library.​

Since graduating from Alma

After receiving the M.L.S. from the University of Rhode Island, I was employed as the Librarian for Skidaway Institute of Oceanography on Skidaway Island, Savannah, Georgia.  (Skidaway Institute was an independent unit of the University System of Georgia at the time; it is now officially part of the University of Georgia.)  It was a wonderful way to begin a career as Librarian, since I was essentially my own boss and the only staff in that one-person library.  The researchers and graduate students were all incredibly appreciative of the library collection and services, and I was free to initiate new programs as I liked.

My Alma education

The professors in the biology department nurtured my interest in all aspects of life science​ and encouraged independence in research.  A private reading in fire ecology required hours in the small biology reading room, pouring over bound volumes of Biological Abstracts and learning the intricacies of keyword-in-context indexing (a lost art in today’s online environment!).  I discovered the process of searching, finding, assessing and finally reading dozens of scholarly articles from sources far and wide.  That experience of research and writing a comprehensive review, supported by a dedicated branch library perfectly suited for the purpose, was fine preparation for leading the science library in a liberal arts college.  Feeling at home at Oberlin College in particular was undoubtedly encouraged by readings and discussion in sociology classes, where advocacy for social and environmental justice was kindled.

My favorite place(s) on campus included

the study carrels tucked away behind the stacks on the upper floors of the library and the front lawn of Gelston Hall.​

My favorite professors(s) included

​Dr. Arlan Edgar, from whom I learned perseverance at the microscope and with whom I developed an abiding affection for wetlands and invertebrate ecology; Dr. Lester Eyer, for his passion as a teacher and gentle manner - I will never forget how to pronounce Escherichia, due to his kind instruction.

My most vivid/best memory of my time at Alma is

wading knee deep in the Pine River floodplain in the dead of winter, collecting water and benthic samples, to document the overwintering of invertebrates.