New KCC reference librarian brings passion to work

Wondering where to find a resource for your research paper on breakdancing? Want to find a unique way to study the sustainability of fish populations over time?

These are typical of issues that reference librarian Kara Plamann Wagoner frequently helps to solve.

Kara Plamann Wagoner

Kara Plamann Wagoner

“What I love most about spending time at the desk is talking to students and helping them learn how to search using our resources,” said Wagoner.  “One student was so grateful when I showed her how she could use the databases from home to research her paper about breakdancing. I helped another student this week who wanted a book that was checked out. I was able to recommend another book by the same author because I have read her works.”

Wagoner  is one of 19 employees that staffs the Lama Library, which receives visits from approximately 1,600 KCC students on any given day.

Wagoner, who graduated with a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in December 2014, started working at Lama Library as an intern.

“I’ve always loved libraries,” said Wagoner.  “So for me, growing up it was like this sense of calm or peace whenever I walk into a library.  If I go on vacation, I also have to go the library and check it out in the city.”

Wagoner now works part-time at the library, with hopes that her position will be full time in the future.

“Since I’ve been here [at KCC] it’s always felt comfortable,” said Wagoner.  “I get to mix with international students, local students.  I’ve learned a lot here.”

Wagoner, a lifelong Packers fan, grew up in Green Bay, Wisc.  Yet her Midwestern roots, which she is proud of, only tell part of her story.  Wagoner taught English in a small Japanese tea-farming community of 20,000 in the Shizuoka Prefecture.  More recently, she taught English immersion at an international school in Honolulu.

“You have students from Chile and China and Switzerland all in one class,” she said.  “So I loved that.  It was like traveling without traveling.”

Wagoner, who studied English and journalism as an undergraduate student, believes that books played a role in where life has taken her.

“I think being an avid reader growing up, you learn about all of these different places and different people,” she said.  “Green Bay is quite homogeneous and it’s kind of only one way of living life and I wanted to see what else was out there.”

She said that KCC is a place that satisfies her natural curiosity for the world and feels at home.

“I just remember we had international games week in February and it was so fun.  Because there it was there was – you were seeing it,” she said.  “Like a mix there, ‘oh I might sit down and play this game that came out of Africa and I’m playing it with a student from India next to a student that grew up here.’ So I had that happen and to be doing it over a game was really exciting.  I think that kind of goes back to this idea of how libraries are changing or kind of staying relevant is they have to become this communal space.  Or the ones that are doing a good job of it are thriving and I think this is a good example.”

Wagoner shies from talking about herself and wants to discuss different initiatives she’s worked on at the library – digitizing resources, for example, or helping provide free textbooks.

“The librarians who have been here a long time are constantly looking for innovative ways.  How are we going to get people in?  How are we drawing people in and making it comfortable?  I feel like, sometimes I’m like, the kids are too comfortable, they shouldn’t have their feet up there – you know — but they have this — I’ve seen kids there for hours, you know, and I like that.”