Friday, November 8, 2019

Meet Paul Chapman

Academic Support Librarian

Where did you grow up and what was it like? 
My father was in the Coast Guard, so I grew up all up and down the East Coast and Gulf of the USA. I was born in Louisiana and then moved to Florida, Connecticut, Alabama, Virginia, back to Florida, back to Virginia. So it was a challenge as a kid always being uprooted and not being able to make friends that lasted more than two years. But on the other hand, moving around so much made me more flexible and adaptive to new situations.

Tell us a little about your background.
My academic background is in Fine Arts. I studied Studio Art in both my undergraduate work (JMU) and also have a MFA in Studio Art – Photography (GWU). Being the child of a military family and always moving around so much actually made me quite shy since I was always the new kid trying to figure out how I fit in, so I became more and more shy as I got older. But going to art school and constantly having to create new work weekly and defend it to my peers, helped me in so many ways.

I am a survivor of child abuse and I try to be as vocal about my experience as possible. I am a firm believer in speaking up and sharing about what I went through with others. By talking about my experience, it helps reduce stigma, lets others know they are not alone, and provides support to those who have gone through similar situations.

You are new to Reynolds. What brought you to Richmond, and to Reynolds specifically?
My Partner of 16 years accepted job at VCU last October. We still had a few months left on our apartment lease in Alexandria, so I stayed up there and continued to work while searching for jobs here in the Richmond area. Our lease ran out in January of 2019, so until just recently I was commuting from Richmond to Alexandria where I was a Librarian at Northern Virginia Community College.

I was very excited by the opportunity work at Reynolds because I fully support the mission and goals of community colleges and their essential roles as equalizers providing access to resources, technology, enrichment, and advancement opportunities for the entire community.

What sparked your interest in in becoming a librarian?
I have always been a teacher at heart. I love working with people and helping students to find their passion and inspiration for knowledge and lifelong learning. I grew up going to libraries as a place to do my homework. While pursing all of my degrees, I worked in some sort of library at each school. I don’t know why I didn’t consider Librarianship earlier, but it is interesting to look back at all the little things that led me to this career.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a librarian?
The most challenging thing about being a librarian is connecting with people outside of the library and effectively communicating what the library can offer. Most people, including teachers and administrators (not just students) don’t really seem to understand the true purpose and roll of the academic library.

There is a common misconception that libraries are just buildings full of books or that Librarians just sit around all day reading novels. Providing academic support services to patrons is our main goal, but in general people only come to the library when they need help with something. That point-of-need model limits how much interaction we have with patrons outside of those specific interactions. 

Libraries are here to provide access to so many different things: study space, technology, books, databases, Information Literacy Instruction, but above all our most important asset is our people. Librarians and Library staff are in the business of student success. It is core to our mission and therefore we are essential to our institution because our daily interactions with students directly impact enrollment, retention, persistence and ultimately student success.

What are the most rewarding aspects?
The most rewarding part for me is when students come back to you just to say thank you and that they got an “A” on the paper or project I helped them with.

Librarians sometimes have very focused jobs, but usually we need to be a jack of all trades. Being a service oriented profession, we never know what kind of questions or issues our patrons might have, so we are constantly being challenged. I love and embrace that I am constantly stimulated by learning new things, finding new things, keep up with changes in technology, changes in pedagogy, and myriad of other areas.

If you had one extra hour a day, how would you use it?
I love to cook so I would use an extra hour each day to try out more complicated recipes. Unfortunately, I have a few food restrictions, but that always makes for a fun challenge where I can try to convert and existing recipe into something that I can eat.

What do you like to do outside of your work at Reynolds?
I am writing my first novel. It is inspired by a nightmare I had a year ago. I woke up from the dream and immediately had to start writing it down.

Another passion of mine is Holistic Wellness. I am a firm believer that we all should strive for a balance of Physical, Nutritional, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Wellness.

I started lifting weights in 2010 and I got completely hooked. I wake up early every morning and go to the gym to lift. I still call myself an amateur bodybuilder, but I have no desire to compete professionally. Lifting is my “me time”. I put on my headphones, crank up the music, and just get lost in the challenge of trying to be better each day.

What do like most about Richmond? Favorite places to visit? Favorite restaurants?
I have only been living in Richmond full-time for a few weeks, so I am still learning all that it has to offer, but I really enjoy that there is so much access to the arts in this area. The other benefit is that we have all the advantages of being next to a city but without the traffic and overpopulation of the DC Metro area. I love that I can be out in nature or in the country in just a few minutes or head into the city for a concert or event without much trouble.

If you won $100 Million in the Mega Millions lottery what would you do with the money?
If I won a $100 Million, I would immediately pay off my debt.

I would purchase a small farm somewhere around Richmond and build my dream home. I am a huge animal lover and gardening is one of my many passions. It is my goal to eventually have goats, chickens, and to grow as much of my own organic produce as possible.

I would establish a scholarship for LGBTQA students.

Of course some of that money would go towards retirement.

Another dream I have always had is to own a large warehouse in a city and convert it into visiting artist studio space and gallery space. I would set up a visiting artist program where artists are paid a stipend to come and use the space while they teach art master classes and give lectures. It would be an amazing partnership with all the colleges in the area to help art students and the community learn how to appreciate and make art from successful working artists.