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A conversation with Eileen Daly-Boas, Warner’s librarian

A Conversation with Warner’s New Librarian

Eileen Daly-BoasEileen Daly-Boas became the Warner School’s new outreach librarian on October 1, 2017. She took the place of Kathy McGowan, who served as the University’s education and women’s studies librarian and retired in January 2017 after working in Rush Rhees Library on River Campus for 36 years.

“After stepping in for the past 9 months, while the search process for a new librarian ran its course, Eileen has proven to provide tremendous service and care to the Warner community,” says Kimberly Davies Hoffman, head of outreach, learning, and research services at River Campus Libraries. “She has been working tirelessly to support daytime, evening, and weekend needs spanning three departments. The positive result of Eileen’s hard work is evidenced through a long list of glowing feedback from Warner faculty and students with whom she has been working.”

Eileen, who has served as the outreach librarian for social sciences and humanities and now has subject responsibilities for education and philosophy, talks about her new role and what drew her to the field.

Where are you from?
I grew up just north of Syracuse, N.Y. in a town called Cicero. When I was a kid, it had farms within its borders – now, there are a lot of mini-mansion developments with names like “The Pastures.” Syracuse and Rochester seem to be very different cities for being so close – there is a greater emphasis on arts and music here, while Syracuse has a lot more sports fanatics.

How long have you worked at the University of Rochester?
I’ve been at the University for 12 and a half years.

Where did you go to school?
I attended SUNY Geneseo as an undergraduate and majored in philosophy and English. For graduate school, I studied philosophy at the University of Rochester. After realizing that the limited job market in philosophy wasn’t for me, I earned my master’s in library and information science from Syracuse University, where I did part of my degree as part of their “distance education”—which is what online education was called before we had all of the streaming and video capabilities.

What inspired you to become a librarian and what drew you to the University of Rochester?
I’m embarrassed to admit that I seldom used librarians while I was an undergraduate, or even as a graduate student. They seemed nice, but I was a self-starter and didn’t like asking for help. I didn’t really have a clear sense as to what academic librarians did. I knew the philosophy librarian at the University of Rochester, but more because she played bagpipes and was always friendly when I left my ID behind at the computers (in the 1990’s, you had to put your ID in a little holder when you used the databases – they were all on CDs in computer towers). 

When I left the University of Rochester without finishing my dissertation, I continued to teach as an adjunct at local colleges, and worked in a bicycle shop, and in an arts non-profit and spent a lot of time in coffee shops. One of my friends who I knew from Geneseo said that I should be a librarian. I hadn’t thought much about it, so I looked into it and talked to a lot of librarians about what they did. I discovered that they taught (a lot), did a lot of one-on-one meetings where they taught strategies for research, and got to pursue interesting questions. That sounded like a lot of fun.

I went to Syracuse University because it had (and still does!) a great reputation, and I knew I could get a job anywhere in the U.S. with a degree from there. I was spending part of my time in Syracuse, and part in Rochester, and when I finished, I thought I’d start local. The University of Rochester was hiring a copy-cataloger, and the librarian I knew there encouraged me to apply. Cataloging isn’t a lot like Outreach or Reference Librarianship, but it is a lot like symbolic logic, which I taught for years. In a little over a year, they offered me the job of philosophy librarian, and I jumped at it. I also began working for the Head of Collection Development, so I got a lot of behind-the-scenes understanding of databases, funding, weeding collections, etc. I eventually moved full time to the outreach department. 

What types of things will you do to help support the needs of the Warner community? 
Right now, I’m still assessing the best ways to help. One thing that I know I’d like to do is to create more workshops for learning good strategies for research. I’d also like to promote some of the tools we have here, including the reference management tools and data visualization tools. Warner does research across such a wide span of topics, and I think I need to work on the Education Research Guide ( ) so that it’s easier for researchers to find the information they need.

What is one of the more unusual requests you have had?
Oh, good question. The real answer is that I get lots of questions that seem unusual – they are all over the place. One moment, I’m helping an undergraduate research the genealogy of a person whose headstone they’re researching for a class, and looking for newspaper articles, and the next moment, I’m looking for insights into when girls stop wanting to do computer coding. As I focus on coaching people on their research strategies, I get fewer oddball requests.

I used to get much weirder questions when we had a reference desk. People would walk up and ask me trivia questions about Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, or whether I thought their first edition of James Patterson’s book might be valuable. These are all things I don’t know much about, but I could get them answers or direct them to the right place. I did have one gentleman ask me to peruse medical articles about using maggots to heal wounds, and I started to help, but there were pictures and that was too gross for me. (Apparently, they can really help for some kinds of wounds, but yeccch.)

How do you envision the academic library of the future?
The library of the future will have a lot in common with today’s library. I think of a library as a set of services, not a set of books. It will always have books in print, in case anyone is worried. But the services will keep adapting as technology improves – already, I spend a lot more time teaching people about research strategies than how to use a particular database. Online search is getting better and better, and interfaces more intuitive, so people don’t need to know what to click or how to construct a Boolean search. But with the massive amount of information, people need good strategies that save them time and bring them back the best results. The library of the future will focus on providing access to more items than books and journals – we’re already helping with datasets, and Open Educational Resources. As technology heads toward Augmented and Virtual Reality, the library will be there. Questions about fair use and citations will always be in our realm, and the questions aren’t going to get easier as we have more access to more kinds of digital scholarship. 

What is your favorite thing about your job? 
Ah, an easy one: working with students and faculty. I’m a problem-solver at heart (that’s the philosophy part), and when I can sit with someone, listen and then help design a strategy for tackling the project and they go away happy, there’s just nothing better than that. 

What do you like to do outside of work in your free time?
You’ll be shocked to find that I like to read a lot with my two cats on my lap. I like to garden, and I love board games, although I’m not very competitive. I play all the Lego videogames – they are a fun distraction. I like live music, although I don’t go as often as I’d like. I like most kinds of music, but I really enjoy Irish/Scottish traditional music, folk music, jazz and Broadway musicals.

Do you have a favorite book OR a favorite piece of literature or genre?
I have a lot of favorite books! One for each genre, I think. I’m a huge fan of audiobooks, which make my commute a lot more bearable. A few of my favorites include: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (a story of a traveling orchestra and theatre troupe in a post-apocalyptic Northeast U.S.), Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (a tale about the night after Willie Lincoln, the president’s son has been buried in a crypt – and the spirits around him).

Anything else you want the Warner community to know about you? 
One part of my job is working with local high school students, especially the ones working on their Extended Essay for the International Baccalaureate diploma. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s led us to team up with other local academic librarians to have more discussions with high school teachers and librarians about information literacy.

Eileen will be at LeChase Hall’s third-floor lounge area (outside the Miller Technology and Research Lab) most Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 4 to 5 p.m., for consultations and conversations. Contact her at (585) 273-5360 or You can also contact her and make appointments at: