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My “Why UD” Story: The Libraries

By Victoria Brey ’25

Oh, to be a senior in high school again: to be so excited for college, so looking forward to the newfound freedom, independence and experiences, and yet … to be so unsure of where to go, how to get there, and what to do once I got there.

My college search was a nerve-wracking process. I knew I needed scholarship offers and a chance to explore my major once I got to school, but beyond that, I was clueless. I initially leaned toward University of Dayton because the financial aid package made the most sense for me and my family, but I was fascinated by the engineering department’s co-op programs — the perfect opportunity, it seemed, to explore my mechanical engineering major. UD ended up being the only college campus I toured (out of the seven schools to which I applied), and I settled here two and half years ago. Little did I know what the coming years had in store for me. 

By now, if you paid attention to the title of this article, you’re probably asking yourself, “OK, she said ‘My Why UD Story: The Libraries,’ but none of this has anything to do with the Libraries, so what is going on here?” You raise a valid point. This is a story about libraries and books and chalkboards (real chalkboards!) and most of all memories, but the story begins with none of that. The Libraries — their spirit, their vivacity — were not even on my radar as I was searching colleges. However, now that I am here, now that I have lived the UD experience, I have realized how important libraries are to a fulfilling college experience.

Our UD Libraries — Roesch Library, the Marian Library and UD Archives and Special Collections — have been a constant in my college endeavors. I am uniquely connected to the Archives, but the Libraries are so much more than that — so much bigger than my connections to them in a way that ties all of campus together.

I started at UD as a mechanical engineering major, but due to my utter inability to enjoy my engineering classes, I changed my major — a big change — to art history. I’m not exactly what the cool kids call “tech savvy” (or even remotely interested in technology, for that matter), so my plans for engineering gradually crumbled around my feet by the end of my first year, and I had no backup plan. I had a vague sense that I might enjoy the study of art history, but I had no idea what the practical applications of such a degree might be. Then, in that summer between my first and second years, I remembered a crucial piece of information about my freshman year roommate: She had worked in the University Archives.

“OK,” I thought to myself. “Don’t people in archives do historical things?” I was not sure, but they were hiring, so I sent in an application and started working there at the start of my sophomore year.

Sending in that application was one of the best decisions I have made during my time in college. As I got more involved in the Archives and my art history studies, I started learning about professional work in archives, museums and library sciences, all of which are career fields in which art history majors often end up. I have been testing out a potential path of work, which was hugely important to me when I started college excited about co-ops and which remains important to me now as I figure out my vocation. Working in the Archives has shown me that I can have a practical, successful, fulfilling career with my art history degree, and it has been one of the most vocationally affirming experiences I have had in my time here. Working in the Libraries has played a fundamental role in shaping my college trajectory, in showing me a new path when my original plan fell through and in giving me hope that the actions I am taking right now are right for me. I am so grateful for this experience, but I never expected it when I came to UD. The Libraries had something for me that I didn't know I would need.

Not everyone has a story like mine about how the University Libraries changed their lives. (They’re missing out.) What everyone at UD does have, though, is a story about the libraries — a memory of some sort — often treasured, even if it may have involved cramming for midterms there long into the night. My story about the Archives shows how in probably my greatest hour of need in college, in my crisis of not knowing what to do with my life and in not having a backup plan, the Libraries were there for me.

It may sound corny, but the Libraries at UD are always there for me and for everyone else. (The only time they are not there for you is when they are closed between the hours of 5 and 7 a.m. … but in that case, please go home and sleep! You do not need to be in the library any longer!)

People talk about the sense of community in the library, about meeting up with friends and studying with them, of chatting with people in the bathroom, of seeing another human face at 2 a.m. when they are finally going home after writing a term paper. That community — that solidarity — makes the Libraries so wholesome, so comforting. That is what draws people to them. The University Libraries embrace you when you feel that you’ve entered your darkest hours of academic woe. They are the place you go when you need quiet time to study and focus because you are panicking about your workload; they won’t even cock an eyebrow if you’re cutting your roommate’s hair in the second-floor bathroom at 2 a.m. because you’re both too stressed about midterms to focus on literally anything else (true story — I have the photos to prove it). Friendships are forged in the libraries, in the study groups that meet up at first to cram calculus but eventually because they just like hanging out together. The libraries have something for everyone: books, of course — stacks and stacks of marvelous books that an art history major like me loves to bury her nose in, but also online journals, double monitors, charge cords to borrow at the front desk, whiteboards on every floor, a coffee shop and a piano in the basement, nun dolls (we all have our quirks, Roesch Library included), private study rooms, group study rooms, music in the stairwells and free pizza during exam week, and — truly my favorite part — chalkboards. Specifically, a blue chalkboard. Have you ever seen a blue chalkboard? The indescribable joy I feel when using that chalkboard (and drawing dinosaurs on it after a long night of studying) is enough to motivate me through even the toughest art history analysis essays. Then there are the views of campus and the city from the sixth- and seventh-floor windows, which are hard to beat anywhere else on campus.

The Libraries have a heart, vibrant and beating, and it is driven by the students who use them and the caring and compassionate staff who make these experiences possible for us. My UD story would not be what it has been without the University Libraries. Sure, no one agrees on how to pronounce “Roesch” (“rush” or “roe-sh” or “resh”), but we all agree that it is a lifeblood of our campus and that the experiences we have there bring us together and shape us as people. If you’ve slogged all the way through to the end of this blog with me because you’re curious about UD and you’re wondering if you’d like to call the University of Dayton home for four years, I invite you to think of the Libraries. Imagine what they can do for you and how they can help you become the person you want to be. The possibilities are endless, and the UD Libraries will support you and help you explore and grow just like they did for me.

— Victoria Brey is a junior art history major and student employee in University Archives and Special Collections.

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