Have You Met...?

John Muller, one of the new faces in the Special Collections Department

JMM

So John, tell us about yourself.
I grew up in the Maryland countryside in a little town whose claim to fame is it was the capital - for a single day - when President James Madison stayed in the postmaster’s house on Aug. 26, 1814 while the British invaded Washington. That’s probably why I’ve always been interested in local history.

I graduated from an in-town university with a degree in public policy and have worked in education, politics, social services and journalism.

For more than 10 years I have volunteered (and did a stint or two as a Summer Youth Employment Program worker) at the Adult Literacy Resource Center at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. I feel a deep debt of gratitude for all the life experiences and lessons I have gained at the DC Public Library, not to mention all of the information I have stumbled into by spending hundreds upon hundreds of hours at the library.

What’s your job title in Special Collections?
I am a Library Associate.
 
What expectations do you have for your job?
I expect to contribute where and when I am needed. Special Collections has a highly knowledgeable staff who for years have helped guide and direct research inquiries from students, lawyers, authors, preservationists and community leaders. I hope to learn as much as I can from the truly outstanding professionals in Special Collections and begin to add value to the team effort to serve the patrons of the library.
 
What things make you happy about your job that might surprise other people?
Everyday there’s something new to learn, often from the questions and inquiries from our patrons which is the unique dynamic about my job. It’s a great responsibility to help patrons discover information using our resources from our online databases to historic maps to old newspapers to our vertical files. Over the years, the staff has been extremely helpful in my research inquiries and I now have the opportunity to return the favor to repeat and first-time patrons.

Assisting the further study and documentation of local history is an endeavor everyone within the department takes seriously. The opportunity to work on the front lines with my colleagues at the intersection of where research questions meet their answers is very rewarding and fulfilling.

Working in and around organized stacks of old books, heaps of newspapers, Washington ephemera and city records is the greatest job I could imagine.
 
What are some of your favorite hobbies, John?
Visiting used-book stores, following baseball, seeing movies at the Avalon Theatre and spending time with my girlfriend.
 
OK John, one last question: There’s a rumor going around that says you wrote an awesome book called Frederick Douglass in Washington D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia, and that the book was selected as the DC Reads title for this year. Is this true? (!!!)
The rumors are true. With the help of the Special Collections Department, I was able to research the life and times of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C. and turn a fraction of the research into a book. The book was selected in a public vote early this year as the 2013 DC Reads selection.

Programming just started and will continue through Nov. 15 at neighborhood branches throughout the city. For more information, folks can visit dclibrary.org/dcreads.