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Eddy Atwell

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Eddy Atwell at the circulation desk in the Preus Library.

Eddy Atwell at the circulation desk in the Preus Library.

Emma Busch (‘19) | Chips

Emma Busch (‘19) | Chips

Eddy Atwell at the circulation desk in the Preus Library.

Emma Busch, Staff Writer

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Public Services Coordinator Eddy Atwell was a newspaper reporter, student chaplain, mental health counselor, city clerk, freelance editor, and almost everything in between before he began his job as a part-time circulation desk employee in Preus Library 27 years ago.

Atwell’s focus has always been his family and his move to Decorah was motivated by his wife’s career as a clinical social worker. The two met and married in Minneapolis while they worked for the same division of a Lutheran volunteer program. While living in central Minnesota, Atwell’s wife, a native of Mabel, Minnesota became interested in moving to Decorah.

“I said if she ever got a job down here I’d be willing to move,” Atwell said. “She finally did get a position in town, so we moved here.”

Atwell studied public policy analysis as an undergraduate student and planned to pursue a graduate degree in the field before deciding to go to seminary. While he does not have a degree in library science, Atwell says his position suits him because of his love for reading.

“Reading and libraries have always been important to me,” Atwell said. “My wife rolls her eyes because the only day I don’t work is Saturday and every Saturday I go down to the public library and read without interruption.”

Atwell works a split shift during the week and has a number of responsibilities in the library, including running the circulation desk, handling problems with the building, taking care of the printers, running the book sale, and shelf-reading the library during the summer.

“We look at every single book and make sure it’s where it’s supposed to be,” Atwell said. “That’s kind of a tedious task, but that’s how we know where everything is. I’ve touched every book in this building at least five times.”

Atwell says that while academic libraries and the online resources Preus offers are valuable, they do not allow you to unexpectedly stumble upon books you may not have known existed. 

“When I grew up, you would roam the stacks and that’s kind of how I still read today,” Atwell said. “I would encourage students to roam the stacks when they have time. You can sit in your room now and look up books, which is so nice, but there’s a chance you’re missing those serendipitous findings in the library itself.”

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