MLA Featured Library Employee — Jennifer Gravley

Meet our most recent Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Jennifer Gravley!

  • What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?

I’m Jennifer Gravley, and I’m currently a temporary Research and Instruction Librarian at Ellis Library and a part-time Evening/Weekend Library Supervisor & Tutor at Stephens Library.

  • What originally got you interested in working at a library?

I went to library school a little later in life than most, but it seemed a good fit with my creative writing background and experience in scholarly publishing. There’s not a time in my life I don’t remember libraries playing a major role. I have always relied on libraries to provide me with access to books, both the ones I wanted to read and the ones I didn’t want to read or didn’t know I wanted to read. Libraries make writers.

  • What keeps you coming back every day?

Unfinished projects! And the chance to help students have good experiences in the library that will make libraries a permanent part of their lives as well.

  • What’s challenging about your work?

I think knowing you can always do more is a personal and professional challenge. I think everyone who works in a library figures out where that line is of pushing toward that “enough” that’s never attainable while settling for an “enough” that preserves the time and space to live a fully engaged life outside of the library.

  • Has your work made you either curious, or passionate, or awestruck about something?

Working in academic libraries means being surrounded by people pursuing their own intellectual interests and helping provide them with the information and tools to do so. Frankly, that reminds me to do my own work. I think academic librarians are most effective when they have the opportunity and support to be committed to their own intellectual pursuits that enrich the profession, the university, and the community at large.

  • Who is one of your mentors?

When you’re in a temporary or evening/weekend position, mentorship is much more informal as you are on a different path from other staff—or may not see much of them. That said, I learn so much from everyone I work with. If you listen and observe, you can’t help but learn. Beyond the particulars of the professional work, what I have most admired about my colleagues and hope to emulate is their dedication to lifting each other up and supporting each other’s work. So much in libraries depends on collaboration.

  • What book, author, artist, show, or music are you engaging with this week, either personally or professionally? Persuade us in one or two sentences that we should pick this up, too.

I’m going to recommend Santa Clarita Diet. Season 2 of this zombie comedy was especially delightful. Trust me when I say you’ll find some relationship goals in Shelia and Joel.

  • Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

I’ll throw in a plug for my fabulous local public library. The Columbia Public Library was the first thing I loved about Columbia. To this day, the more time I spend in libraries as a patron, the more human I feel.


Would you like to nominate someone to be our next Featured Library Employee?  Examples could be:

…a new employee you’d like to introduce

…someone with a unique job or on a unique career path

…an employee you find inspirational

…a coworker whose gifts you wish were more widely known

…someone who’s “an institution” full of interesting stories

…a role that has a new focus or is reaching a new audience

…someone you’d like to make more visible to potential employers

Submit name(s) and contact information, along with place of employment, to Shannon Mawhiney at  We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!