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Claire Nyles Suer photo
Claire Nyles Suer

Claire Nyles Suer, Continuing Resources & Database Management Specialist

Tell us about what you do at ZSR Library?

I play a part in a lot of the workflows for physical materials that come through Resource Services. I work most closely with new books that are part of standing orders and continuation series, but I also manage inventory for our periodicals, process the periodicals that we send to a commercial binder to get hard covers, oversee the marking of new books and materials, process withdrawals and location changes, help with other related projects, and troubleshoot individual items with errors in Alma. I also supervise the four lovely student assistants in R.S., and I really enjoy training them and managing their work.

What is your favorite book/podcast/movie?

Too many favs to name. One book I’ve really enjoyed this year is “Body Work” by Melissa Febos – funny, clear, gorgeous writing about the craft of writing intimate personal narrative. This is one of those books where I want to read every paragraph twice because it’s so juicy to read and to think about.

On a related note, one of my favorite movies in the last few years is “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” which also dives deep into the relationship between the act of observing, the creation of art, and how desire and memory work… there’s so much to say about this film, but I’ll just say I highly recommend it!

How did you start working in libraries?

Essentially, I am a big nerd and love the process of organizing materials. Years ago I cataloged my entire personal collection of books on LibraryThing, a free cataloging software. I enjoyed this so much, and was so passionate about helping people access materials they needed, that in 2017 I volunteered to catalog the community lending library (about 800 titles) at North Star LGBTQ Community Center. Then in 2019 I read the job description for my current position and, well, here we are.

Interestingly, I got to “complete the loop” a little bit this past year. I co-facilitate the faculty and staff LGBTQ+ Affinity Resource Group at Wake, WFQ, and our group did a several-stage service project to curate and update North Star’s collection to better fit the needs of the community. It feels great to fight the censorship of queer books and put stories and resources into the hands of folks who need them.

What is something we can’t know by looking at you?

I am a little obsessed with the Wakerspace and makin’ stuff. I’ve made things with the 3D printer, the laser cutter, the embroidery machine, the Cricut & t-shirt maker, and more. Right now I’m working on a design for an acrylic LED light that will also include my first experience with the CNC router. And you can always find me doodling custom lettering and fun stuff on my iPad.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever gotten?

A mentor of mine once passed along a story: she was working as an assistant for a bigwig in hospital systems administration– the “big boss” to thousands of people. The administrator was talking through a problem in the organization and asked my friend what she thought. My friend was shocked to be asked because she was new to the workforce and had no expertise in administration. She said “I don’t know,” and then asked the administrator what the answer was– what would she do? And the administrator said “I don’t know, either.”

Much of leadership is not knowing what to do, but asking questions, trying things, and figuring it out. No one has it all figured out, and there’s actually a lot of power in being honest about that. When I’m feeling imposter syndrome, I think about that story.