Don’t Judge a Librarian by His Cover


Adam Sripranaratanakul searches for a student’s LuteCard balance in the University Center. He spends most of his days behind the concierge desk. Photo by RHIANNON BERG ’18


Adam Sripranaratanakul, manager of Concierge Services at Pacific Lutheran University, spends most days directing hundreds of people to resources on and off campus. He spends his other days working towards his master’s degree in library and information science at the University of Washington in Seattle. He said he hopes to spend his future with hundreds of books.

“The University of Washington has one of the best information schools in the country and it’s close to here so I’m able to get up to campus and participate in things and keep my full-time job,” he said.

Growing up in Seattle, Sripranaratanakul enjoyed reading and found himself at the public library in Seattle frequently.

“When I was a kid I was very curious about everything. My mom took me to the library on a regular basis,” he said.

One especially curious thing about Sripranaratanakul is his last name, which is seventeen characters long.

“It is easier to write than to say out loud,” he said with an audible laugh.

He said his paternal grandparents emigrated from China to Thailand after World War II to escape the Chinese Communist party and chose the unique name as a way to separate themselves from their Chinese heritage.

His father then emigrated from Thailand to the United States after experiencing American culture as an exchange student.

“His worldview and values are very diverse, a mix of some elements of Chinese, Thai and American because he’s been in this country [for so long],” Sripranaratanakul said about his father.

Sripranaratanakul studied Thai during his undergrad years at UW Seattle and said the language and cuisine keep him connected to his heritage.

“It is an important part of my identity,” he said. “I want to pass that onto my kids.”

As a librarian Sripranaratanakul said could see himself assisting people to research their cultural backgrounds.

“I would very much enjoy helping other people find those resources,” he said.

Before discovering his passion for library science,  Sripranaratanakul joined the army and used the G.I. Bill to fund his undergraduate education. He also found work as a valet, went door-to-door for the U.S. Census and dealt with unpleasant hotel guests.

“It wasn’t my favorite job, but it paid the bills,” he said. “And then the economy crashed and I got laid off and so that was a tough experience.”

Sripranaratanakul then searched for jobs that would fulfill his passion for connecting people and information.

“I was looking for jobs in libraries because that was where I had decided I belonged,” he said. “I had discovered that was my vocation.”

As a single parent Sripranaratanakul had to balance his passion with his need to support his family. When he couldn’t find a position at a local public library, he found his home at the PLU concierge desk.

“I like my job. And since I’ve started the job has evolved quite a bit,” he said.

Student worker and junior Kate Williams said, “Adam really cares about us and he tries to find our strengths and then help us to use them.”

Sripranaratanakul paused to wave at Liz Zitron from across the University Center. With a smile and small laugh he said, “There’s a librarian over there cheering me on.”

Sripranaratanakul’s journey is just beginning. He said he plans on searching for positions at public and educational libraries after graduation from UW, and he may return to PLU if there are positions available.

“Be authentic in yourself,” he said. “Find something that makes you happy and be flexible.”

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