"We are UWTacoma" storytelling

July 12, 2019

UW Tacoma – A Story of “Countless Opportunities”

Margaret and I recently had the opportunity to interview Anna Salyer, a part-time librarian, recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, and UW Seattle Alumni. As a student at UW Seattle, Salyer was in the first class for the Master’s of Library Science to have a computer lab and was part of the first presentation class with the GEACK program. She has been with the UW-Tacoma Library full-time for almost sixteen years, and has only recently transitioned to part-time.

One of the common themes throughout her interview was the idea of opportunity and the countless opportunities that UW Tacoma offers not only its students, but also its staff and faculty. Salyer notes that

“Everybody who walks onto this campus, whether they want to pursue the journey that they’re on at the moment or something completely different – for every student who wants to do the work, there is that opportunity for them because the staff, and a lot of the faculty, are here for them, to do that. You just have to ask, because we can’t read your mind.The staff here, we walk that talk for our students. We want to be the resources, we want to save you time and save you energy. We want to save you stressing, to make sure that you have what you need to succeed.”

As a librarian, Salyer has a strong love for the UW Libraries system and is a firm believer that its vast network of resources provides endless opportunities to students, faculty, and staff.

“The UW Libraries is one library on three campuses, so everything that the Seattle students have access to, so do our students. It’s truly a world-class research library and I am so thankful and humble that I have gotten to be part of that, and talk about the resources, and teach people how to use them effectively and efficiently, and to be part of the journey’s people take.”

Salyer has seen and experienced some of these opportunities and experiences first-hand during her sixteen years at UW Tacoma. She told of us of one experience that tied in with her work with local non-profit organizations. Over the past few years, Salyer has been invited to the Puget Sound Grantwriters Association to discuss resources for community members, the online Foundation Directory, and even provide workshops. After one presentation, she was approached by a student from the Social Work program at UW-Seattle who expressed an interest in having Salyer give her presentation at a yearly fundraising grant writing class for students in the social work program. With the use of remote log-ins, Salyer has had the opportunity to give this presentation in Seattle for the past six years.

Salyer’s role in the Library has allowed her the opportunity to interact with students one-on-one, which is something that she has truly come to value during her time here. After giving a demonstration at an Orientation Session, Salyer recalled a woman coming to the Reference Desk looking for help on the research process. “She says to me, ‘I just got back to school after forever and I’m so excited to be here, can you show me some stuff today? I know school hasn’t started yet or anything.’ So we worked and worked, and she was the first UW Tacoma student to win the Undergraduate Research Award.”

For Salyer, the joy of interacting with students and helping them succeed in their goals is one of the main reasons she has stayed with UW Tacoma for so many years. “I think things are unexpected. It seems that when things are unexpected that’s when you need them the most.”
A perfect example of this happened when Salyer was admitted to St. Joe’s hospital for pneumonia. During the second day of her stay she had the opportunity to connect with a current student, who just happened to be her nurse. What was supposed to be a ‘normal’ hospital stay provided the two with the opportunity to connect and form a friendship.

“Here comes this lovely young woman, and she’s doing all this stuff and she says to me, ‘Gee you know you look familiar.” So I told her who I was and what I do and she goes, ‘That’s where I know you! I’m in the BSN program!’ So when I got better, and got back to work, we met and did a follow up on how to do research, and that was really fun!”

Later on in the interview, Salyer told us of another student who had come to her earlier that day, someone she hadn’t seen in awhile, who thanked her now that she is graduating and has a job lined up. “She said, ‘You did it all,’ and I said, ‘No I didn’t do any of it. I pointed you to the resources and that’s all I did, you did all the rest.” She was in tears and I’m just so humbled, and I love it. You, you the students, are why I’m still here.”

As much as UW Tacoma is all about creating and fostering opportunities for its students, it also provides fellow staff and faculty members unique opportunities as well. There are countless opportunities available for research, mentorship, and professional as well as social development. Anna Salyer’s story is just one of many that highlight the unique experiences of every one who sets foot on our campus.

~Rachel Howe