Unique Role for Graduate Student Mason Mitchell

June 17, 2015

On June 1, 2015, Mason Mitchell, graduate student of theology and John Ireland Scholar, began his new role as Circulation Supervisor at the Archbishop Ireland Memorial Library. I had the opportunity to ask him about his path to studying graduate theology, and how this new role uses, enhances and fits into his future plans.

What led you to study theology at The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity?

As an Evangelical (Reformed Baptist) interested in theology and apologetics, I was first attracted to The University of St. Thomas for its stellar, markedly Thomistic Philosophy department. During my first-semester as an undergraduate, a friendship with the late Dr. Nichols introduced me to both the Theology and Catholic Studies departments, and I became a double-major in philosophy and theology. Out of love for the great tradition of Christianity and special respect for the historic Roman Catholic Church, a Master of Arts in theology was the natural extension for my education.

How important is the Ireland Library in the life of the students and theologians at SPSSOD?

The library is, in one sense, the seminary’s most important asset. While nothing can compare to the impact of individual professors, directors, and staff in the formation of our students, the library exists to facilitate the academic function of the Seminary. Regardless of whether students take full advantage of our facilities and collection (few do!), our collection of print and digital media and Inter-Library Loan services enables professors to do their job, students to make their education their own through research, and also serve the academic needs of faithful throughout the broader Twin Cities.

What is your position and what are your responsibilities?

As Circulation Supervisor at Ireland, a big little library, I deal with most of our “customer service” issues. I wear a number of hats, including: handling patron issues (good and bad), managing our circulating collection, setting up the semester holds with professors, facilitating Inter-Library Loan (both going in and out!), and, of course, hiring, training, scheduling, and managing our student workers, some of the best on campus!

What is your favorite aspect of the resources at the Library?

We have a great collection which is well worth browsing. Want scripture commentaries? We’ve got a floor for that. Want church history? We’ve got another. Need some books on psychology, world history, medical ethics, philosophy, Mormonism, or music? We’ve got that too.
BEST KEPT SECRET: Ireland Library has the quietest study space on campus. We have open study carrels for silent study in the stacks, quiet public study in the reference room, a scenic leather room overlooking the Grotto, and a group-study room available for checkout. Our patrons are polite and quiet, and, while coffee is welcome, you won’t hear an espresso machine. We even have a cool new Study-Tools checkout program in the works (sorry, no further comment!). It’s a crying shame that we don’t have more students of any field using our facility.

How will your theology degree shape your work?

My library experience and degrees have been progressing hand-in-hand for six years. Because I’ve used Ireland Library as both an undergraduate and a graduate student, I feel especially sensitive to our student’s needs. When you come to the counter, I know what you’re going through, I’m interested in your project, and I want to help. We’re in this together!

What other goals/plans do you have as a theologian?

My driving plan is to learn more about the faith. While I am planning on further academic degrees in theology, I also have more pastoral interests I am now enabled to pursue. In short, I have much more to learn about the Triune God and His Church and am striving to live faithfully in the meantime.