Interview with David Weiner

LC: Who are you?

DW: David Weiner….Head of Circulation Services at Stony
Brook’s Main Library.

LC: We hear that you were a student here back in the day. Tell us what SBU
was like as a student then?

DW: I graduated from East Meadow High School back in 1972, and went to Nassau Community College, where I got my AA degree in 1974. Then, not knowing what I wanted to do, worked full time for Bloomingdales in Garden City, and married in
1976. Both my wife (Vicky) and I started at Stony Brook in 1977.
Obviously, the campus was very different back then, but it’s hard to
remember what it looked like! The academic mall wasn’t as nice – no
fountain, no SAC, no Wang Building. No stadium. There was a track and
softball fields where the stadium is today, and there were tennis courts
where the stadium parking lot is located. The tennis courts were packed
back then and it was always hard to get onto a court. Those were the
days of Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Ilie Nastase,
Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, Yvonne Goolagong, Chris Evert and Martina
Navratilova, and tennis was getting to be very popular. We went from
wooden rackets to metal!

I was an Anthropology major, and classes were all over campus – Grad
Chemistry, Psych A and B, Engineering. The department didn’t have a
home until the Social and Behavioral Sciences Building went up. A
couple of my Anthro professors are still around…David Hicks and
Elizabeth Stone.

The library was very different back then. The Reference Room was where
the North Reading Room is now. I used to do assigned readings in the
Reserve Room, which was located where ILL and The School of Journalism
are now. There was no Core East or West in the Main Stacks!

There used to be great concerts in the gym…I went to see two of
them…Dan Fogelberg and James Taylor.

LC: Were you a resident or commuter? What do you think the advantages and
disadvantages for both are?

DW: When Vicky and I first applied, we asked where the married housing was and was told that there wasn’t any. So, we found an upstairs apartment in a house in Centereach, which was only a few miles from campus. The rent was $225.00 per month…which was still too much for us!! For me, I think that living off campus has its
advantages since I always had a quiet place to study, could have a few
friends over for dinner, cook my own food, and have the privacy to watch
TV and listen to my music without bothering any one. I was never a
resident on campus so never go to know what it was like…what it’s
advantages or disadvantages were. All I know, was that for me, I was
more comfortable being off of campus.

LC: What activities were you involved in? Are they still around?

DW: I wasn’t active with any campus activities like clubs. I worked 15-20 hours per
week in the Stacks. Back then there were three distinct areas of work
in Main Circulation – Reserve Room on the first floor, Stacks and the
Desk. I was hired to work in the Stacks, where I stayed from 1977 until
1979 (graduation). I did try to join a club that ran the concerts and
movies (by the way, every Friday night there was a movie shown in the
big lecture hall (100?) in the Javits Building. It was something like
50 cents per ticket, so I saw a lot of movies there), I think it was
called COLA…I had to interview in order to join and they didn’t select
me! I don’t remember the interview very much but do remember that the
room was filled up with pizzas and beer. And, by the way, they also
used to sell beer in the basement of the Union by the pitcher…$3.50
sounds right. There was also a small bowling alley, gift shop and a
hair salon. I really wanted to be part of COLA, but they wanted no part
of me!

LC: What exists now that did not when you were a student that you would have
joined?

DW: Probably The Library Club. I’m not really the type of person
that seeks out activities to join. I’m shy by nature. I did play on a
co-ed softball team and a men’s team, but that was after I graduated and
started working here. I did enjoy being with teams, meeting new people
and going out to The Ground Round once a week with a bunch of guys and
girls who were on the team.

LC: How do you think the library has changed over the past few years?

DW: Technology has taken over. There were no computers when I was a
student. Along the wall in the office where Victor’s desk is located, up
to my office door, were carrels with typewriters for students to use.
The problem was that students used to take the ribbons or typewriter
keys so that it was always difficult to find a working machine. I think
that doing research was much more difficult since we had to rely on the
ability of a Reference Librarian and find one who would guide you to
the correct resources, along with an inordinate amount of time pouring
through journals, encyclopedias and bibliographies. There have been
improvements made in terms of quality of furnishings and the look of the
reading rooms.

LC: What do you think every student should know about not getting fines?

DW: Read the email notices – renew on-line and on-time. I understand the
problems that students face and the complexities of time and study, and
how easy it is to forget to return or renew books on time. I don’t know
what else could be done to help, since we do send out a reminder notice
a few days before items are due. I also think that we have a fair
appeal system.

LC: What is your favorite book? Why?

DW: Lincoln, by Gore Vidal. It’s a great and accurate historical novel, that takes you through the Civil War, how Lincoln had to deal with the Union Generals, and his cabinet, and the struggles he had with depression and his own family problems. It’s a
fabulous book if you’re interested in American History and the story of
probably our greatest President.

LC: What is your favorite movie? Why?

DW: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, starring Charles Laughton (1939). It’s a beauty and the beast love story, full of life and passion. A beautiful gypsy girl who is tortured to confess to a murder that she didn’t commit, who finds sanctuary in Notre Dame.
There are three memorable scenes; one when Quasimodo (the Hunchback)
after being whipped in the town square, begs for water and the crown
mocks his cries. Esmeralda, the Gypsy brings him water to drink, and he
falls in love with her. The second is the scene when Esmeralda is going
to be hanged, and Quasimodo swings down from the church eaves and saves
her, and the third is at the end of the movie when Esmeralda is freed
(the killer confessed his crime) by her lover and Quasimodo hangs on a
gargoyle and says, “Why was I not made of stone like thee?” It’s heart
breaking.

LC: What do you think is the most important thing people should know about
coming to the library?

DW: That our staff is friendly, courteous and here to help. What is your favorite section in the library, call number-wise? The E section…history.

LC: If you could visit anywhere, where would you go and why?

SW: Hawaii…the climate looks perfect, the water is warm, there are beaches and forests too and it all looks so peaceful and calming.

Interviewed by Cher Armstrong

Edit by Kristen Reynolds


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