CofC Faces to Know: Burton Callicott

CofC Faces to Know: Burton Callicott

Name: Burton Callicott

Hometown: I usually claim Memphis, Tennessee, as my hometown, but, to be honest, I moved to Stevens Point, Wisconsin, when I was 1 and lived there until I went to college.

Education: B.A. in English from Reed College in Portland, Oregon; M.A. in English and M.L.I.S. in library and information science from the University of South Carolina

Job title: Head of Research and Instruction for College of Charleston Libraries

How long have you worked at the College? This will be my 19th year!

What are your job responsibilities? My primary responsibility is to ensure that students, faculty, staff and community members are able to find and use quality information. With the advent of Google, this involves a lot more formal and informal instruction, especially in terms of evaluating information, and a lot less traditional reference work. I do miss the old print reference collection (and the feeling of being needed to find obscure facts), but I am in awe of what is available through the internet. Although I prefer the term “coach,” I also supervise the research and instruction librarians and make certain that the Access and Instruction Desk is staffed with librarians and that requests for library instruction are fulfilled.

What do you like most about your job? Throughout the years of being a librarian, nothing beats the feeling of knowing that I have helped someone. Whether it is finding a crucial piece of information or linking to a previously unknown (and perfectly suited) database, there is a distinct moment when you can feel that someone you are working with shifts from being anxious and stressed to relieved and happy. It is priceless.

What question do you get asked most in your job and what’s your typical answer? The essence of my job involves being asked questions, and one of the joys is that I never know what questions to expect. But the one question/assumption that I invariably get when I tell someone that I am a librarian is, “So, you must read a lot of books.” Although I do love reading, I get very little time to read when I am on the clock.

What’s your favorite location on campus and why? I really love the little green space [Barnet Courtyard] next to the [former] Communication Museum on George Street. It is just a sweet, unexpected spot.

What are your hobbies? I don’t know if it is a hobby per se, but I practice yoga regularly. I also play basketball. And I love to cook.

What personal and/or professional accomplishment are you most proud of? Honestly, I would say that I am most proud of accomplishing me. Or rather, the effort I put toward continuing to accomplish being me. I give a lot of credit to my wife, Alea McKinley, for this, but I do strive to be a better person every day. It is slow going, but I am proud of who I am and who I am becoming. This has everything to do with simply being compassionate: to others and to myself.

Name a creative work (book, movie, performance, etc.) you enjoyed recently and why? I caught the Claire Denis film High Life when it was in town, and it really moved me. The cinematography was top notch as was the acting. I like artsy films like this that leave a lot open for interpretation. There was one scene that I would have preferred to be cut (those who have seen it will probably know what I am referring to), but otherwise, it was one of the best films I have seen recently.

What was your favorite TV show growing up? Would it be weird to say Entertainment Tonight? This is more about the timing of the show – it was an indulgence that allowed me to put off doing homework for one precious half hour after dinner.

What’s next on your bucket list? Seeing the Tindersticks live. I have tickets to a show in Berlin mid-February (they do not tour very often). If you are not familiar with this band, I would encourage you to look them up.

What is something your campus colleagues would be surprised to know about you? I can’t stand the Leonard Cohen song “Hallelujah.” I actually like Cohen’s version, and I love his stuff in general, but I really dislike most covers of that song.

What was your first job? My first official job was delivering newspapers. I think I started when I was in seventh grade. I was tempted to put bicycle messenger here, a job I did during and right after college. That was definitely my favorite job of all time.

What’s your favorite Lowcountry restaurant? There are so many great ones, but currently, hands down, it’s Sushi-Wa Izakaya. Their sushi is divine, and everybody there is wonderful.

Describe your perfect day: Wake up without an alarm. Make coffee and hang out with Alea. Read The New York Times. Get lunch at Goat Sheep Cow North and select a bottle of wine (or two) to go. Head to Folly for some bodysurfing. Pick up fresh seafood on the way home. Prepare a nice dinner with friends. Listen to records. Read and drift off to sleep.


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