#FacultyFriday: Meet Patrick Benner

Some people are surprised to learn librarians are faculty, and they teach, too! Patrick Benner has been teaching college students how to find the resources they need since before the internet was a thing (sorry, Patrick!), and he’s really good at it. His office is really easy to find (at the end of the circulation desk in the library lobby), so pop in and say hi, or ask him a question. He’s also got some pretty cool technology toys (and relics!) in there. Go check it out!

Name: Patrick Benner
Title: Systems Librarian & Department Chair / Library Director
Email: pbenner@puc.edu
Faculty since: 1997

Classes Taught: All librarians teach as guest lecturers on information literacy—discerning good sources from poor sources, how to make use of the library’s extensive resources, and how to improve your search strategies and chances of finding what you are looking for. Each of us is assigned to work with certain departments. I work with all the fun ones which include Math, Physics, Chemistry, Aviation, Nursing, and Emergency Services.

Education: B.S. in computer science, Pacific Union College; M.L.I.S. from the University of California-San Jose

Where did you grow up, and what did you want to be when you grew up?

I was born in Sacramento General Hospital and grew up in the capital city, mainly the northern areas of Fair Oaks, Carmichael, and Citrus Heights. I remember as a little dude I wanted to be a scientist and later on an archeologist. As my relationship with God began to develop, I started aspiring to be a missionary. Yes, I read ALL the missionary story books by Josephine Cunnington Edwards and others. Years later I was overjoyed to be able to serve as a student missionary teaching math, science, English, and Bible.

So what made you want to become a librarian?

Someone bet my mother she couldn’t teach me to read before I was 3 years old. Big mistake. My mother rarely lost bets and according to her, by the time I was two and a half I had learned my alphabet and was reading. I remember stacks of word cards that started out small like “the” and “cat” and then went up to larger words like “something” and “purpose.” I have been an avid reader ever since. In the grocery store, I talked mom into buying me a copy of Alice in Wonderland I saw on a book rack when I was probably 8. I LOVED libraries but they were never close enough to where I lived. I was thrilled when I got to Junior High because the large campus for the 2,000 7th & 8th graders had their own library. I was constantly checking out books reading my way through each genre they had. Towards the end of my 7th-grade year, I had spent so much time in the library the librarian actually approached me and asked if I was interested in working there the next school year. Wow, I thought I had died and gone to book heaven!

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day for me is unpredictable. It may include things like helping a student find sources for a paper, answering tech support questions, gathering statistics for federal reports, dealing with a flood in the lower bathrooms, teaching a class in the computer lab, tracking down a bug in the code of the library room reservations website, attending administrative committee meetings, updating the Faculty Handbook, directing student workers, planning for future changes to our physical spaces, interacting with a multitude of vendors who supply us with many resources we subscribe to and purchase, troubleshooting malfunctioning printers, scanners, computers, or any of the associated software, buying equipment or repair tools or software or online databases, and, of course, answering phone calls and emails.

Where is your favorite spot in the PUC library?

I think it’s right here in my office because it’s close to the front lobby where the students come and go and it makes it easy for them to pop in to say “hi” or to ask a question.

What are some of your hobbies?

Hmmm let’s see, besides reading (is that a hobby?) I do enjoy dabbling in astronomy, chemistry, electronics, geology, biology, physics … mostly with kids. Actually, I’d say kids are my main hobby. Starting in high school (Sacramento Adventist Academy) I have been involved with church day camps, summer camps, Sabbath School primary and juniors, Pathfinders, etc. everywhere I have been. My other main “hobby” is spending time with Angwin Ambulance as a volunteer EMT and ambulance driver.

Who is one of your favorite authors?

Wow, if I have to start picking I will say Richard Feynman and Oliver Sacks. Oh, and Mary Roach is super quirky and educational; I love her audio books. Was I supposed to only pick one?

What’s something people may be surprised to learn about you?

I worked for 11 years in Lincoln, Nebraska, for Christian Record Services for the Blind and Deaf. During that time I learned enough sign language to converse and also helped our deaf services department create the Pathfinder honor for sign language.

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