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Ross Anastos Celebrates 10 Years at the UC Merced Library

Mon, July 1, 2024 9:10 AM

Ross Anastos is our Head of Access Services and UC Merced alum (class of 2009). We spoke with him to find out more about his beginnings at UC Merced and his current work.

How did you end up at UC Merced?

“My high school homeroom teacher, Mr. Ruth, recommended UC Merced. He thought I would do well if I attended this new campus in the University of California system. I applied to UC Merced and a couple of other state schools but chose to attend UC Merced because it was a UC. When I came out here for orientation during the summer of 2005, I had no idea what to expect, but I knew that it was all brand new.

When I started at UC Merced as an undergrad, I thought I should get a job. One of my dorm roommates worked in the Library and encouraged me to apply. He liked the environment, and it helped that I had relevant experience.

When I was in high school, my 400-hour service requirement turned into 1000+ hours volunteering at the Noe Valley/Sally Brunn branch of the San Francisco Public Library. I really enjoyed working there. I helped process book donations, sent materials to other branch locations (which I now know as Interlibrary Loan), and worked the circulation desk.

By October 2006, I was working as a Library Student Assistant at the UC Merced Library.

Fast forward to 2013. I had been married for less than a year, and my wife and I were commuting in two different directions. My commute was two hours and hers was one hour to UC Merced. We realized that we needed to change something, so I started looking at jobs at the UC.

Though the initial positions I applied to didn’t transpire into anything, I reconnected with Eric Scott, Associate University Librarian of Library Operations. I knew Eric from my time as a Library student assistant. He noted that the Library was hiring a Night/Weekend Supervisor, and he said I should submit my application. I applied and started as staff on October 7, 2013.”

How would you summarize your role?

“In a nutshell, I manage and oversee all our front-end customer service at our Services Desk as well as all our Interlibrary Loan (ILL) operations, and I am responsible for building maintenance and upkeep. My job portfolio includes managing our Night & Weekend staff and our student assistants.

In addition, I continue to be heavily involved with our UC Libraries systemwide integrated library service (SILS) which migrated all campuses to the same circulation system. I had a large role in the project as did many of my colleagues both locally and across the UC Libraries. It was a heavy team effort. I’m still involved to make sure circulation runs smoothly.”

How has your position evolved over time?

“Over time I have held three different jobs at the Library. Change is the only constant. We want to stay current, and that development requires change.

Some of my day-to-day work may feel largely the same yet when I look back, many activities are wildly different. The pandemic changed a lot too, not just in my work but in higher education in general.”

What does a typical day look like for you in the Library?

“On a typical day I may be ensuring that our students show up, checking in with my team, and making sure that everyone is doing well. However, I will also be responding to whatever unfolds whether that is informing colleagues of fire alarm testing, coordinating a leak repair in the building or answering a question from a faculty member. A lot of what I do is centered around task-switching. I have to be very deliberate about doing any one thing.”

What aspects of your work do you enjoy most?

“While I am proud of the work that I’ve done systemwide to implement SILS, what I enjoy the most is helping my team develop as professionals. It is always bittersweet because I don’t want people to leave employment at the Library but when they do, I know it is for a great opportunity. Helping people develop and pursue their goals is a big motivator and a fun part about this job.

This mentorship applies to my work with students too, but there is a time limit on how long we can work together before they graduate. Watching students develop into professionals is especially rewarding.”

What are you anticipating in this upcoming academic year?

“For a long time, I have been focusing on helping our students acquire work experience, operate successfully in a professional environment, and become career-ready.

Last November I had the opportunity to attend an Access Services Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Attendees were individuals from around the country who do the work I do. I attended an excellent session on Student Success and Career Readiness where I couldn’t take notes fast enough. A lot of what the presenters talked about we are already doing. Yet, there was a lot more I was able to absorb and have been able to implement.

This career readiness focus is integrated into our student evaluations each semester. It involves explicitly speaking with students about how their work aligns with future employment and really encourages students to prepare for graduation by using campus resources e.g. to polish their resume.

We have been working on student employee development for a long time. This coming academic year, I think a lot of these pieces are going to click into place. This will be a cohesive, concerted effort, so I am excited to see that.”

What professional development opportunities have been valuable to you?

“Three come to mind. I’ve mentioned the Access Services conference; the career readiness session itself made the whole conference worth it.

I took a UC Berkeley extension class a few years ago for project management that was really helpful. My big takeaway was to approach projects with all stakeholders in mind. Really think through who needs to be included in a project. It’s not a good feeling when someone is left out, even if by accident. Look at the problem or project from all sides and gather the perspectives of anyone who might be impacted.

More recently, I took part in a campus-sponsored facilitation training and found ways to improve on what we are already doing. For example, think about how you are structuring a meeting. Be clear about your goals and what you want to accomplish. Are you giving information? Are you asking for feedback? Being clear and intentional is huge.”

What would you like others to know about the UC Merced Library?

“Our student and staff team is always available to answer a question or to share what library services are available! We are the face of the Library.

The majority of undergraduates who attend UC Merced are first-generation college students. When they visit the library, it might be the first time that they or anyone in their family has been in an academic library. Though they might not know what to expect, that’s okay because the first people they interact with are undergraduate students who may have had similar experiences.”

Do you want to share a fun fact about yourself?

I’m really interested in woodworking as a hobby. I’ve made wooden flags, picture frames, and coasters just to name a few things. The smell of sawdust reminds me of a kid watching my dad work, and I enjoy designing and creating things using wood.


Congratulations Ross on your 10th anniversary as a full-time staff member at the UC Merced Library!

Ross Anastos sitting on couch, facing camera and smiling. Seated in front of concrete pillar with windows on left.