Meet Manlio Perugini, Coordinator of Center for Teaching and Learning
Born and raised in Rome, librarian Manlio Perugini has been working at JCU since 2015. He holds a dottorato di ricerca in Philosophy from Sapienza University in Rome. Manlio has recently been appointed Coordinator of the soon to be created Center for Teaching and Learning.
What brought you to JCU?
I found out about this position by chance, because my mother, who attended the Vatican School of Library Science with former head librarian Elisabetta Morani, remembered that years prior, the Frohring library was looking for someone, so I applied. After one year I also attended library school. So, although I did not start out as a true librarian, now I kind of am, or at least I do a passable impression of one!
Congratulations on being promoted to Reference and Instruction Librarian and Coordinator of the Center for Teaching and Learning. Tell us about your new role and what it entails.
This is sort of a hybrid role. The Reference and Instruction Librarian part is what I’ve been doing for the past four years, and I mainly deal with books and people who need books. It entails helping library patrons and the JCU community by providing information while trying to anticipate their needs, so basically answering a question that no one has asked yet.
The Center will connect many different constituencies here at JCU, like the Library, the Writing Center, and the Tutoring Centers. We’ll assist both teachers and students by providing them with many resources, such as offering workshops and streamlining services that are already in place. I’ll be working closely with the Head Librarian, the Dean of Academic Affairs, the coordinators of the Tutoring Centers, and the department chairs.
You are the Reference and Instruction Librarian for Humanistic Studies, Communications, and Natural Sciences, and you helped develop the Communications Department’s library research guide. How does the Frohring Library support and guide JCU students and professors?
The library guide is mainly the result of the Head Librarian’s work in her previous role, and I had the chance to somehow inherit and expand it. I’m quite proud of that guide, because it’s the result of a close collaboration between the Head Librarian, me, and the Communications department chair, who is quite active in highlighting resources to be added, suggesting new features, and also checking whether the links still work. What do we do to help JCU students and teachers? We try to highlight the resources that are most suited for their teaching and learning needs. I have a philosophical background, so I am inspired by what Socrates used to say about himself, namely that he was someone who helped foster knowledge. And this is our mission.
What are the challenges and rewards of working in the Frohring Library?
I’m working in a library within a university. Personally, from a librarian’s perspective, it doesn’t get more rewarding than that. Working in education is rewarding in and of itself because you can see the results directly.
What do you do when a student asks for your help in a topic that you’re not very knowledgeable about?
Usually, my first reaction is to be scared, but not because I’m not familiar with the topic, that’s actually the fun part. I like to think that for a librarian, especially in a reference position, there are only topics you’re not familiar with yet. Another very good side of my job is that I have the opportunity to learn about stuff I do not know, and possibly do not care about, and that’s fantastic. The scary part is that usually, a student who might need help on a topic I’m not familiar with, has a very strict time constraint. So, I need to help them, and I need to do it fast. So, I try to ask them as many questions as I can, to get as much information from them to make the most out of the time we have. Usually behind a question there are many answers that lead to many further questions.
What are three books that everyone should read and why?
One used to be my favorite novel when I was a kid, and it is The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It really shaped my image of the world. It’s the first novel I read that wasn’t a science fiction novel.
Another book that needs to be read absolutely, and the recent movie only helped spread out the word about it, is Dune by Frank Herbert. It is a great science fiction novel, it is fantastic reading, and it has everything you might want to have. It has philosophy, ecology, adventure, and great writing.
A third book that everyone should read is called The Evolution Man by Roy Lewis. It is a funny book, but it’s also very profound in some ways. It is basically the history of human evolution but narrated as if it were your average novel. The different stages of human evolution are narrated as if the uncle were a Neanderthal, the nephew a Cro-Magnon, and the grandson a Homo Sapiens, and so on. And it’s really funny.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Well, to anyone who might be reading this, be they frequenters of the library or people who have never set foot in it, just come pay a visit. And when you’re in doubt, ask a question. You’re there and you don’t know what to do? You only know that you don’t know what you’re supposed to know? That’s fantastic, every librarian will love you for that, because they’ll be able to answer your questions, so please ask them.