I’ve been asked to share some words and memories about Ron and his time working at the Macalester Library. When thinking about what to say today my first thoughts went to our friendship and quickly expanded to thinking about the many many friendships Ron had. Ron connected with people. He loved supporting and helping. Often, on the mornings I arrived to work early, Ron would already be here and he would be talking with the people who are here before the building opened, people who worked in our Facilities Department. Sometimes, they were just having a quick chat together about their lives. Though, often, Ron was providing help: troubleshooting a technology issue or advising on how to navigate some college policy. Ron started his work day many mornings before we opened by helping people and relating to people in meaningful ways.
He was generous with his ideas, time, and energy. Ron worked at the library for 34 years. It isn’t feasible to list all of his contributions. But I can tell you that everyone who has ever worked with Ron has benefited from his energy and creative vision. More often than not he was dreaming big and would push his colleagues to a place beyond where anyone of us were first looking. Pretty much all of us in the library have been swept up into one of Ron’s big ideas many times over. Often carrying out his visions was a wild journey, but there are so many amazing impacts as a result. Two examples of many: his expanding of our teaching program to include science students who stayed to do research over the summer, and the Library Technology Conference which is now in its 12th year. Our library, Macalester College, and the library profession were all improved beyond measure because of the possibilities Ron saw.
So, I’m going to tell a brief personal story that is about a time Ron held back and kept things simple. Early in my career at Macalester. I think it was during my first year here. Ron and I were paired up to create an exercise and lead a discussion for the whole library staff. I believe it had something to do with creating a culture of assessment. And, at first, when we started planning together, Ron had a vision about how to make this a grand success. Me – I was young and intimidated by having to present something to the whole staff and, honestly, didn’t really feel at all like I knew what I was doing. And, Ron, saw the fears I was having. In the middle of our planning meeting with just the two of us, he scaled back his vision. He switched his priority from big ambition to making sure I was comfortable and to creating something where we could both feel success. I don’t remember exact details, but the event went just fine. I think it was our first project together. And, it was his laying the groundwork in our early relationship for here being both support and trust between each other that enabled us to succeed and push each other outside of our comfort zones on countless other projects together in the years that followed. In short, he was my friend, first. He was a friend to all of us. I know he cared for all his colleagues. He wanted our work to be successful, but even more so, he wanted us to succeed as people together.
Ron. You are missed. Through your work and friendship you have made impacts that will live on forever. With our memories and love, we thank you.
Aaron Albertson, 3/8/2019