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Library Officer Manager Breaks the Mold

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
August 22, 2007

There’s an old stereotype that pegs librarians as these bespectacled women with buns, doing the shushing thing all the time and then going home to a cat and a cup of tea, or something equally sedate.

Well, meet Tracey Lauder, stereotype buster extraordinaire.

The administrative office manager at Dimond Library has so many hobbies she had to put some of them aside during these last two years while working to obtain a Master’s of Library and Information Science. After graduating from Syracuse University this past May, Lauder now has time to pursue her interests again.

She plays the flute very well, according to within-earshot neighbors, and the bagpipes not so much, those same folks have told her. She’s also into metal detecting—for archeological relics, not lost quarters on the beach. She has a scooter and a kayak and has just started building a fairy garden in her backyard.

One thing she doesn’t do is fit that outdated library employee label, even if she does wear glasses.

As a child, Lauder played the violin before moving to the flute. In 2003, spurred by her Scottish ancestry, she took up the bagpipes and wound up taking lessons from Dover firemen, first starting with a chanter – an instrument that resembles a recorder. When she had mastered five tunes, she moved to what she affectionately calls “the pipes.”

“It’s incredibly difficult,” she says of playing the bagpipes. “It’s an ordeal just to get them out.”

Not so with the metal detector; that she often throws in the back of her car on a Sunday afternoon and takes off, seeing where it takes her. Her favorite places are those where people gather, like town halls, cemeteries, schools and parks.

The Dover resident found her way to the uncommon pastime through a man who was into the hobby for the same reason she has embraced it: as a way to explore the past. When the man showed her an old coin from the 18th century that he’d found in his sister’s yard, Lauder was hooked.

“I tend to have hobbies that I say under my breath,” she says. “Like with the metal detector—I’m half sheepish about it.”

Then there’s the Yamaha 125 scooter that she rides to campus and around the Seacoast, whenever she has time.

“I love scootering. It’s such a cool feeling,” Lauder says. “I haven’t scooted to work as much this summer because of all the construction. But I go to Portsmouth and other towns. It’s kind of neat to find ways to go places without getting on the highway.”

She got into kayaking when she traded in her old canoe. Recently she set out to meet a goal she’d been thinking about: flying a kite from a kayak.

“Note to self: keep the paddle in the boat,” she says, describing how she looked down to find her paddle had floated away while she was watching the kite go up.

Lauder discovered fairy gardens during a visit to an artist colony. She was so enchanted with the notion that she decided to clear a space in her backyard to create her own. It has become one of her many ongoing projects.

“I’m really never bored,” Lauder says.

Now that she’s had a few months off from studying, she has started thinking about getting a second master’s degree, this one in a field that has something to do with statistics so she can expand on what she calls her dream job and help determine whether the needs of library users are being met.

“I’ve always been a fan of libraries,” Lauder says, explaining that growing up in Amherst, Mass., she lived next door to a librarian who worked at UMass and babysat for the public library director’s children. “When I ended up in this field, I thought, ‘Well, of course.’ Everyday is different and that’s the perfect fit for me.”

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