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Secret Lives: Adam Robinson

Staff Profile: Adam Robinson

As a Resource Description Specialist in the Technical Services unit, Adam Robinson works to make Library materials findable for researchers. In his words, “If books are not properly cataloged, libraries don’t know what they have and users can’t find what they need.” The good news for AU students and faculty is that Adam enjoys the “problem solving satisfaction” of his job and is dedicated to making Library resources easier for users to locate.

Additionally, Adam works with other units around campus to include partner collections in the Library catalog. The American University Library cooperates with unaffiliated, on-campus library collections in order to make their content more accessible to the university community. These collections include the Career Center Resource Library, the Center for Language Exploration, Acquisition and Research, and the Visual Resources Center.

Adam brings a broad knowledge base to his cataloging work, with BAs in English, Spanish, and Art History from the University of Kansas, which his sister, mother, and grandfather all attended. During his time as an undergraduate, he worked at the University Library and enjoyed the experience so much that he decided to pursue a graduate degree in Library Science, and relocated to Boston to attend Simmons College, where he received his MS. Here at AU, he is in the process of completing his master’s thesis for the Art History program, a project that focuses on the design and decoration of the Boston Public Library. When he finishes this work, he will have an MA in Art History.

While attending school in Boston, Adam loved exploring all of the art, culture, and history of the city. His favorite Bostonart museum is the Museum of Fine Arts, with its substantial ‘Art of the Americas’ collections. As a specialist in American art, Adam has a bit of a bias, but also enjoys the more internationally focused collections at the Gardner Museum. He sees some similarities between Boston and DC, “both are charming, walkable big cities that offer a tangible feeling of history and have great art museums.” Here, Adam tends to gravitate toward the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Gallery of Art.

His love of art history attracted him to the MA program at AU, but it is difficult to say what he may study next. “I value lifelong learning and just follow what interests me.” He plans to continue auditing courses in interesting subjects. His experience as a grad student at AU has been a positive one. Adam stresses the importance of accepting challenges, while keeping perspective, and praises his thesis advisor and professor, Dr. Helen Langa, for inspiring him with her depth of knowledge and encouraging him as a student.

Adam’s interest in amassing knowledge is also what attracted him to a career in library work. “Cataloging can be intimidating. It requires learning a new language in order to interface between the library and the user. There is also rarely a single solution, which makes the process feel a bit like solving little puzzles.” Working on the Research Assistance Desk is a similarly intellectually rewarding experience. “It is exciting to sit down with someone who is not acquainted with AU Library materials and be able to shed light on their research problem – or show them an unexpected resource or tool! The dynamic back and forth is fun too. It is gratifying to delve into other subjects, learn new things, and help someone on their personal journey.”

As a result, Adam is able to help users on both sides of the Library experience. In his work cataloging materials, he is behind the scenes striving to make the Library collection easier to search, while on the Research Assistance Desk, he is helping scholars and researchers face-to-face with some of their trickiest research questions. His familiarity with these two aspects of the research process give him a unique perspective on the user experience. Insights like these help the Library provide the best possible service, digitally and in person.

Book, Film, and Game Recommendations from Adam:

Novels and stories: the Lottery, the Haunting of Hill House, We have Always Lived in the Castle, Other Stories and Sketches by Shirley Jackson.

Readers familiar with Jackson’s better-known works, The Haunting at Hill House, or The Lottery already know that she has a talent for writing about the strange and uncanny. In the short story format, her ability to evoke psychological fear is perhaps even more pronounced. Whether these elements slowly seep into or suddenly upset the carefully-ordered and mundane lives of her characters, the dread and fear they engender is masterfully developed and eminently relatable.


A film that any fan of the comedy-horror genre is “bound” to enjoy! I tend to enjoy atmospheric horror movies and dark comedies, and this marries the two nicely within the framework of a family dramedy, offering a little something for everyone—and not just at Halloween!

Betrayal at House on the Hill

(3-6) Players. Casual board-gamers beware? Betrayal at House on the Hill features a cooperative strategy gaming experience with a mid-game twist, as a yet-unidentified member of your party turns on the rest to achieve an almost always different, but ever-nefarious B-Movie/Horror scenario.