By: Kelsey Aylor, editor-in-chief
When Paul Jones began working in the Sandor Teszler Library in 1995, Google had yet to even be founded. Jones, who graduated from Wofford in 1992 with a degree in history, fondly comments on the vastly different resources that were available when he was a student and when he first started working here. As technology and materials expanded, so did his responsibilities.
“Very few of us at Wofford wear only one hat. When I first started, it was basic circulation, checking out books and putting them on reserves,” says Jones. “As the college and its resources have grown, the library has become an academic commons – a one-stop shop for students and their needs, ranging from research and editing to peer tutoring. My role has been to facilitate and accommodate those needs.”
When Jones began, he worked 20 hours a week, taking over the night shift and closing the building Sundays-Thursdays. Two years later after a sudden resignation, he was appointed as Interim Circulation Coordinator. Until this past Friday, Feb. 9, he fulfilled that role.
“I came in as the transitionary staff, and for 22 years I helped transition between coordinators,” he jokes.
Jones cites personal reasons for his departure.
“It’s a quality of life issue. I was pushing myself too hard, and felt I needed to take a step back to find a better balance between work and life. I think I focused so much on work that I actually don’t know what life looks like in a way,” he says. “Ultimately, it was a health decision.”
“My work was starting to suffer, and if I can’t give my best to the faculty, staff and students, it’s best that I step away. They deserve the best and if I can’t give that, I need to re-evaluate some things,” Jones says.
Jones has a history of service. After his father passed away during his childhood, he helped to take care of his younger sisters and his mother. The family remains close – Jones still lives in his hometown of Blacksburg, S.C., near family, and has only missed past Wofford graduation ceremonies in order to celebrate his niece’s birthday.
Jones extended this close familial atmosphere to the patrons of the library.
“The relationships I’ve formed with students, faculty and staff will be what I miss the most about Wofford. I love everyone here,” he says. “Especially the students, I feel a responsibility to them. Their parents may be nervous about sending their children away, so when I meet these parents, I shake their hands and tell them I’ll look out for their kids. I take that to heart…and I want to assure students that I was and always will be an advocate for them.”
Upon announcing his departure, Jones received countless visits from colleagues and students who expressed their regret at his leaving. He says some cried while saying their goodbyes, something he never before thought imaginable.
“Just because I’m leaving Wofford does not mean I’ll stop loving the people or the institution,” says Jones. “I just hope that in my time here I helped in some small way to encourage those around me, and to make a positive impact on their lives. If they saw positivity from me, hopefully they can pay that forward.”
Although Jones has left, he says this is not the last we’ll see of him. He says, unless there are unforeseen circumstances, he plans to attend graduation to see off students. In the meantime, he plans to take a break and allow himself to venture out to see new places and experience new things.