Meet the Staff: Brianna Cochran

Meet the Staff is a Q&A series on Out of the Stacks that highlights the Archives and Information Services staff of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Brianna Cochran

In 50 words or less, describe what you do.

As a new Library Assistant, my day is split between orientations and training, staffing reading rooms, and working on stacks maintenance projects. Eventually, I will be trained to assist patrons with locating research resources, and I will take on more complex stacks maintenance projects.

Why did you choose your profession?

I have always felt at home in libraries. When my single mother could not find a babysitter, she used to take me to the library with her while she studied for her associate’s degree. She studied in the adult reading room while I entertained myself in the children’s reading room. There, the children’s librarian taught me how to use an out marker and I enjoyed the satisfaction of placing a book on the shelf in its correct location. My childhood enthusiasm for libraries carried over to my home life. Enthusiastically, I created library check out cards on scraps of colored construction paper, for my personal collection of books and VHS tapes.

What is your favorite document, photo, or artifact in TSLAC’s collection?

At this point, I have a limited exposure to our vast collection, so I will probably discover new favorites as I work with more materials. However, my current favorite is our collection of newspapers on microfilm. I have selected the Houston Post from November 1, 1919, as an example.

Before working at TSLAC, I needed access to the Houston Post for personal research. The only places I could find that provided access to the out-of-print the Houston Post were Rice University in Houston and paid newspaper subscription sites, so I was not able to access the materials I needed for my project. I was excited to find out the Houston Post is at TSLAC, and I have enjoyed learning how to use microfilm.

The Houston Post. (1919, November 1)

The Houston Post. (1919, November 1)

[TSLAC also maintains institutional memberships to the Newspaper Archive and Newspapers.com Texas Collection, both available for free on-site in our Reference Reading Room located in the Lorenzo de Zavala State Library and Archives Building in Austin.]

When you’re not busy what do you like to do for fun?

I like to be in nature. Beaches are my favorite, but in Austin I like to hike nature trails. I am learning to practice mindfulness, which is accepting and noticing the present moment without judgment. Therefore, my hikes look more like walking slowly and marveling at water droplets sparkling in the sun, rather than hiking quickly for exercise. I find mindfulness helps manage stress, because it gives me a sense of power. Instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, I can make decisions about what to do in the present.

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