Meet the JKM Library Staff: Lyra Bennett



Is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle expert

Is usually planning her next trip abroad to somewhere fascinating

Is 100% on board with having a library cat

What do you do here at The Jennie King Mellon Library?

I’m a part-time Reference Associate.

What made you choose your current profession?

I worked in higher education since graduating from college myself and I love the atmosphere of a college campus!  I’ve also always loved the atmosphere in libraries (thanks to my mom who was a teacher and volunteered at our local library) so when I decided to go to graduate school I chose Library Science.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An architect!  Then I realized a lot of math was involved so I gave that idea up – but I do still love looking at houses and I still have many of the floor plans (likely completely unrealistic) that I dreamed up as a kid.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

Helping people realize all the great resources (for work, school, and for fun) that the library has.

If you could do one thing to change/improve the JKM Library- with no worries about time or expense, what would you do?

I am 100% on board with having a library cat.  Also, I think it’s a great idea to have a jigsaw puzzle out for people to work on when they need a break from studying!

What do you like to do on your days off?

I like taking a run outside on a nice day or fitting in some yoga if I have time.  I’m also taking French classes now and I actually enjoy doing the homework because it’s something I’m doing just for fun.  I love reading (obviously), baking (and eating), and hiking.  I also love to travel so I’m usually planning a trip (that may or may not happen).

What’s the last thing you checked out? (Brief reviews are appreciated)

I’m almost always reading more than two books at a time – two I recently finished are Mosquitoland by David Arnold (great!) and Ways to Disappear by Idra Novey (the main character is from Pittsburgh – Shadyside is mentioned once or twice) and I also check out a lot of French language movies – the last one I watched was Ernest & Celestine (lovely and cute).

What book do you think everyone should read? Why?

This is a hard question!!  But the first thing that comes to mind is Sweetland by Michael Crummey.  I read this book more than a year ago and I still think about it and it’s characters regularly.  Some characters just stick with you, as if they were real people you knew.  But I just thought of something else I’d recommend too – anything by James Michener.  He writes long sagas based around a specific geographic region.  Some might find his books a little dry and boring but I love them – my favorite is Chesapeake.  When I finish one of his books I feel like I intimately know a place and its history even if I’ve never been there (ahem … Hawaii).

Some of our student workers update the popular reading display and are always looking for recommendations. If you could please list 5 or so of your favorite books that JKM has, that would be great!

I don’t know that many of these could be termed “popular reading” but:

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides,

Living Poor by Moritz Thomsen (one of my favorite Peace Corps-related memoirs – I’ve read almost every Peace Corps memoir that I know of so I can always give more recommendations on this or memoirs in general – my favorite genre!)

The Cider House Rules or The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving

something by Willa Cather (like Shadows on the Rock, O Pioneers!, or My Antonia)

something by Bill Bryson (like the Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid)

What’s your favorite thing about living in Pittsburgh?

The landscape, hills, rivers – and the neighborhoods.

What’s one thing you think everyone should do while they live in the city? (This includes restaurant recommendations, of course)

Walk through Allegheny Cemetery.

Tell us some surprising things about yourself (2/3 would be great):

I am a bit of a jigsaw puzzle expert.

I love clothes and fashion but HATE shopping.

I got my nose pierced about 5 years before I got my ears pierced.  In fact, I only got my ears pierced because my friends thought it was weird that my nose was pierced but not my ears and took me to get them done!

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