by STACY JOHNSON//Editorial Assistant
Mark Gottschalk positively impacts the academic and professional lives of countless people in his role as public services librarian at South Plains College.
Gottschalk has worked on the Levelland campus for four years. A Washington state native, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Washington State University. He then went on to earn a Master of Library and Information Science degree from San Jose State University. After he graduated, he began his career in South Carolina as a young adult services librarian at a public library in Charleston before coming to Levelland.
Library science couples his desire to help others accomplish their goals with his passion for conducting research.
“I was a history major, and I liked the research,” says Gottschalk, “but my first job was at a Boys & Girls Club, and I really liked helping people. I got a lot of satisfaction, so it was kind of a good combination of helping people every day and helping people realize their dreams, and also getting to do some research still.”
His time is divided equally between providing reference services at the information desk, and managing and supervising the circulation desk. He assists students, faculty, and community members with research projects, sourcing materials, finding books, and other functions of the library.
He also teaches information literacy classes, which are interactive tours showcasing the library’s offerings so that students have a full picture of the options and resources available to them. Instructors utilize the tours for their classes, letting Gottschalk and other experts at the library teach their students how to write citations and use the library’s resources to get started with their coursework.
“I just encourage them to come use the space however they want to,” he says. “I’d rather have somebody in here, even if it’s just to rent DVDs or to use the computer for Facebook, because eventually they’re going to have a question and at least they know where we are.”
Gottschalk explains that he feels libraries are important community spaces.
“I spend a lot of time trying to get out in the campus community and talk to students and faculty members about what the library can do for them,” he says, “because I think it’s important to kind of have our fingers on the pulse of what our students need and what our faculty members need.”
According to Gottschalk, his favorite thing about working in the library is watching students succeed.
“That’s the motto here at South Plains: ‘dreams precede realities,’” says Gottschalk. “Trying to help people get to those realities by showing them ways to be successful, even if it’s something simple like showing them how to do a citation, or how to find a book.”
As chairperson for the Professional Development Committee, he is dedicated to helping people achieve those dreams. He says the most personally rewarding part of his job is watching student workers grow as employees and individuals, and then being able to help them with their careers after they leave SPC.
He expresses gratitude for the professional opportunities that working at the library offers him. He is an active member of the Texas Library Association and says the supportive environment at SPC “has led to a great network of friends and librarians throughout Texas that helps me do my job better.”
When he isn’t working, Gottschalk enjoys hiking and exploring historical sites. He says that some of the aspects he appreciates most about the area are the geological features of the Southwest.
“All of the cool hidden geology, like Carlsbad Caverns, and going up into the mountains in New Mexico,” he says. “I think there’s a lot more than people think there is.”
As a former basketball player for University of California at Irvine, he likes watching and discussing sports—particularly basketball and hockey.
He also enjoys reading in his spare time. His favorite author is Spanish novelist Carlos Ruiz Zafón, who penned “The Cemetery of Forgotten Books,” a series that Gottschalk describes as vivid fiction that progresses like a movie. He notes that the books can be read in any order without losing context or meaning.
Gottschalk describes himself as “the tall dude,” and welcomes students to come to the library and talk to him if they need help with anything on campus.
“I can’t help you if you don’t ask me a question,” he says, “so any question you have, come see us.”
[Photo by JORDAN PATTERSON/PLAINSMAN PRESS]