“I eavesdrop shamelessly,” confesses Ann Flower, assistant director of library services, with a somewhat mischievous smile on her face. She explains that many people simply don’t think to ask for help with their research or are unwilling to bother staff, instead sharing their dilemmas with other students. “I have never regretted jumping into those conversations to offer help and I am sure the students are happy I did, too.” Three years ago Ann purposely moved her desk from deeper inside the library to the front desk in order to be in the “thick of things,” making herself more visible and accessible to students in need of help navigating this increasing complex and voluminous world of data.
A San Francisco native, Ann came to the Monterey Institute straight from the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Library and Information Services 26 years ago. At the time she thought it might be a good start to her career, as she had always had her sights on academia, but by her second year she had connected completely with the unique Monterey community and made it her home. “I feel so fortunate that I can personalize world events by relating on a human level to people I know from those places, living those lives,” she says and adds that not many people can say that.
Ann often gets responses to research requests in languages she does not speak, like the morning we met with her, when she successfully found a Japanese official report on the Japanese language, in Japanese, as well as obscure Yunan province documents on the cultural revolution, in Chinese. “It’s like a puzzle,” she says with a happy grin, conceding that being a librarian at the Monterey Institute is never dull, and often a lot like being a detective.