Your Fellow APsjenshangraw | November 25, 2013
This editions member spotlight is Jonah Magur, Library Assistant IV.
How long have you been at MSU?
I’ve been working at MSU for a relatively short time, just since this past August, but I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it. I have indeed been an APA member that whole time.
Can you tell me a little bit about what you do?
What I do is a nice mix (in my opinion) of various activities. First and foremost, I run the Espresso Book Machine, which is something that can produce a library-quality, perfect-bound paperback book from a couple of digital files in roughly 5-10 minutes. It’s rather amazing to see, and I always welcome curious parties to come by the Copy Center in the Main Library to watch it in action. On the daily, I meet with potential clients who would like to have a book printed–this might be something they wrote, but it also might be an out-of-print title, publisher-authorized reprint, a Google book or copy of something that exists in the public domain. I work with them to make sure copyright is not being infringed upon, and then print as many or as few copies of their book as they want. Unlike traditional publishing, I can print forty or fifty, or even just one or two copies of a book upon request. This works particularly well for when graduate students want copies of their dissertations to give to loved ones, but don’t want to pay the crazy monopoly prices the authorized, hardbound-only printers demand. Anyway, sometimes it’s relatively simple: I upload and print from correctly formatted files that are brought to me. Other times it’s necessary to work with a patron to format their material to acceptable specs, teach them tricks in Microsoft Word, design covers for them, or address any other issues that may arise, such as obtaining permission to reprint an image. For example, one of my most recent clients wanted to reprint sheet music in his book, but we determined that the cost to do so legally was prohibitive. Since the music was not central to the story, the client decided to remove it from his book, and happily took 50 copies home. I’ve helped the library reproduce rare old cookbooks, professors create custom textbooks, old ladies produce extensive genealogical histories, and students print art anthologies, just to name a few things.
(You can find more information about MSU’s Espresso Book Machine here: https://www.lib.msu.edu/about/
What brought you to your job at MSU?
What brought me to this job was a combination of factors coming together. I got my bachelor’s in journalism from MSU, so I was particularly excited to continue bleeding green! The job posting jumped right out at me because of its desired qualifications matching perfectly with my skills and the direction I wanted to move in professionally: After speaking with some old classmates and colleagues, I had decided that I didn’t want to join the newspaper industry as I’d planned to do at the outset of undergrad studies. At the time I applied for my current job, I was serving as the general manager of a local restaurant, and really wanted to something closer to “my industry.” Sure, I had been able to design a few things to market the business, and really enjoyed leading a team but overall my design and writing talents were not being utilized. My degree was not doing me any good, and I certainly wasn’t being paid what I thought I was worth, working on salary for 50, 60, even as many as 80 or 90 hours per week, making less than 40k per year. So I took the position at MSU, and I couldn’t be happier: I get to keep my work week to 40 hours, which is great, but the benefits are almost impossible to name off all at once. I’ll be excited to affordably pursue a master’s degree once I’m eligible for tuition assistance. The retirement package is unbeatable. But what really makes the job great is the very agreeable mix of client interaction, physical production and creative marketing and design that it offers. It’s nice to take something that may have turned out mediocre, and really tweak it to perfection so the finished product is something that won’t irk obsessively detail-oriented folks such as myself once it’s out there in the world.
What do you love about working at MSU?
The thing I love most about working for MSU–especially after being in a corporate environment for many years–is that my job is to provide a service that doesn’t necessarily generate profit. Sure, the machine I run has the potential to bring in money, and as it grows in renown we increase our revenue, but it was purchased in order to enrich the lives of Spartans and the community at large. My personal approach is to keep busy, and recognize that there’s always room for growth. In my own mind, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I were not expanding this great service, letting as many folks as possible know it exists for their use. It’s really rewarding to finish a job, and watch a patron walk away not just with a physical product but also with greater knowledge than they had when they came in.
Can you tell me a little about the benefits and challenges of working at the library?
There really are not many challenges I’ve encountered in working at the library. Sure, there are those little things: I have to pay MSU for a parking pass, I had to finally medicate myself for allergies that I’d left untreated for years after I moved into the building, and I have to be up bright and early for work every day, but the benefits far outweigh anything that I might consider unpleasant. It’s nice getting out of work when the sun is still shining!
What do you like to do when you are not at work?
When I’m not at work, I listen a wide variety of music, and play my own in a 14-piece band–I’ve been a percussionist for about 13 years. I enjoy reading sci-fi and other fictional novels, and playing video and group-oriented games. I live in a house in Lansing with my girlfriend, a dog and a cat.