As a child, Kristen Costello thought librarians knew all the answers. Now as a librarian herself, she realizes that, perhaps more importantly, they know how to find all the answers.
Years at UNLV
I started working at UNLV on September 1, 2006, so 12 years so far!
What you did previously
I worked at Drexel University in Philadelphia for 10 years. Previous to that, I worked at White Sands Missile Range as a government contractor for the Army Research Lab. I did a little bit of everything there — computer networking, database programming, and technical writing. I had to get a secret clearance to work there, which is very funny to me because anyone who knows me knows that I can’t keep a secret.
Inspiration to become a librarian
I always wanted to be a librarian. My love for libraries began when I was a little girl. I would frequently ride my bike down to the Maxwell Memorial Library in Camillus, New York. My goal was to read all the books (I didn’t). I also thought that if I was a librarian, I would know all the answers! Now that I’m a librarian, I know how to find the answers. I also always wanted to be a contestant on Jeopardy! but I know my limitations.
Best way to summarize your job
I solve problems. I’m like the Ray Donovan of the Libraries. I also tell people that you won’t generally see me unless something is broken. A common misconception is that librarians read all day, and while that is true, I’m reading technical documentation, trying to figure out why something isn’t working or how to improve a workflow.
What all your work on the new Alma and Primo systems means for the faculty and user experience
How you began participating in Corporate Challenge
A former co-worker was very active in swimming for the Corporate Challenge. She would come back from the meet with all her medals and put them up in her office. I asked her about it because I always loved swimming but I was never on a swim team and she brought me to the pool. Everyone was so supportive. I’m still really slow and I have so much more to learn but it’s fun to challenge yourself.
I would really encourage everyone at UNLV to participate in the Corporate Challenge. It's a great way to meet people from across the university. There is something for everyone and it's fun, too.
You knit in meetings to help with concentration and focus. What’s your favorite type of knitting?
I know it’s so cliche that I’m a librarian who wears cardigans and glasses and knits. I learned to knit long before I became a librarian. I taught myself how to knit when I lived in West Germany in 1987. I was inspired by the German women knitting on the trains and buses. I like to always be doing something and just sitting makes me very sleepy so if I’m knitting, I am much more alert. My favorite knitting is when I’m making a gift for someone. I’ve promised my family sweaters this year so I have some work to do! I generally give away a lot of what I’ve knit.
Best tip for someone new to UNLV
Do a campus tour. It gives you a wonderful orientation to the university. Get a membership to the Student Recreation and Wellness Center and get fit during your lunch hour. Go to a UNLV sporting event; we’ve got some great student-athletes. If you are new to the Las Vegas area, get out and explore. There is so much to do here, from fine dining and shows on the Strip to a lot of great state and national parks close by.
You grew up in New York, so we have to ask, is the winter ordeal better or worse than the Las Vegas summer heat?
Ha! Great question! I grew up in Syracuse, New York, which gets so much snow. Syracuse has won the Golden Snowball contest more than any other central New York city. Seriously, check it out. I did my undergraduate work at SUNY Fredonia, which is right on Lake Erie, so also quite cold and snowy. I don’t know how I lived there. I love the sun. Even when the heat is absolutely scorching, you can find a pool or some shade. And if you want to play in the snow, you can drive up to Mount Charleston.