This occasional series features Eastern Mennonite University staff members. Read Staff Spotlight #1 about Lynn Veurink, #2 about Vanessa Derrow, #3 about Betty Lee, #4 about Sarah Gant and #5 about Tony Brenneman.
As a technical services librarian, Jennifer Ulrich’s role in EMU’s Hartzler Library tends “to not be the glamorous side of librarianship,” she said – but she’s held it for three decades.
Jennifer grew up in Eureka, Illinois, and earned a degree each at Goshen College (BA in history and investigative skills), Indiana University (Master of Library Science) and Claremont (California) Graduate University (MA in applied women’s studies). She recently completed a board of directors term for Atla, a membership association of librarians and information professionals that is committed to advancing the study of religion and theology.
For my graduate studies at Claremont, I completed a three-month internship in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, working with the Mennonite Central Committee Women’s Concerns Committee. I did my Study-Service Term in Haiti. Besides Haiti I have visited Canada, Finland, Romania and the Domnican Republic, and many places in the United States.
Besides calling Harrisonburg home, I feel at home in the places where my parents and sisters are located. Chicago is my city, and I have an affinity for Iowa.
What was your path to working at EMU?
My first job was at Tri-State University in Angola, Indiana, as a reference librarian. I applied for the EMU (then EMC) job six months into that one. There were two positions available at the time; I applied for the reference position, and they offered me the catalog librarian position.
It was not my first choice, but I am glad I said yes. Cataloging and technical services tend to not be the glamorous side of librarianship (Hmm… Is there a glamorous side? Insert emoji with a puzzled look), but I have really enjoyed the technical services aspect of librarianship. I have had many opportunities to work in all areas of library work in my time at EMU, including reference and instruction, cataloging, web editing and interim director, to name a few.
Occasionally I get to add original records to the OCLC database (WorldCat), often for EMU- or Mennonite-related items. I added records for 7 x 7 Laments by Jerry Holsopple, the DVD Second home: the Kurdish community in Harrisonburg and two versions of Fish-Eyes by Ted Swartz and Lee Eshleman. Being able to contribute records that are useful to other librarians and help identify unique resources is gratifying.
My parents live in the town I grew up in, and I tend to spend my vacations there with them. My mom volunteers at the Illinois Mennonite Heritage Center, and I have been cataloging their resources into their online system for a number of years. I have two sisters: Jacqui (my twin) lives in Chicago with her husband and works for the Forest Preserves of Cook County, and Heidi lives in Parnell, Iowa, with her husband; they have two adult children. Heidi works for the Woolen Needle (they specialize in hand-dyed wool and reproduction cotton and kits for quilting, wool applique, rug hooking, and punch needle) and does a lot of volunteering in her community.
Bella (my cat) has been living with me since February. She likes to watch the birds, squirrels and rabbits, and sleeps a lot.
Life outside of work:
I like to read, sit on my deck, work in my yard, and spend time with friends. I’ll go out of my way for a really good cup of coffee!
I am the director of Patchwork Pantry, a local food pantry that provides groceries to clients who qualify. I work at the pantry most Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. until 8-ish. It’s fun to have EMU students and faculty/staff volunteer at the pantry.
I volunteer at Ten Thousand Villages in Harrisonburg about once or twice a month. They recently celebrated 25 years in Harrisonburg, and we came to the conclusion I have probably volunteered there for about 25 years. (“I seem to stick with things long term,” she said.)
I also serve on the board of NewBridges Immigrant Resource Center.
Two truths and a lie:
I worked at Highland Retreat one summer.
I played volleyball in high school.
My first car was a Honda.