Getting to Know the Biomedical Libraries’ Staff: An interview with Samara Cary

1. What is your job and how long have you worked for the Dartmouth Biomedical Libraries?

I’m an Information Access Assistant at Matthews-Fuller, and I’ve been there since November. I was working at Baker-Berry before that since 2017.

2. What is your favorite part about your job?

Probably problem-solving, like finding an obscure article that a patron wants and thinks we don’t have but then I show them we do, or decluttering and updating our various guides in a way that makes sense. I might not always solve the problem, but I enjoy the process, as long as it’s not someone yelling at me!

3. What is your least favorite part about your job?

I fear I will never be able to remember all the medical jargon associated with a biomedical library.

4. How are you spending your isolation?

screenshot from the game Animal CrossingWe’ve been playing a lot of Animal Crossing on Nintendo Switch. I didn’t even know what this game was about before, only that our friend was obsessed with it and said we HAD to buy it. Luckily we had bought a Switch in January, because they are almost impossible to get right now, mostly thanks to this game. It was the perfect game to come out at this time; all you do is make a little island Utopia where you go fishing, catch bugs, grow flowers, cut down and plant trees, all so you can build and customize your house and island with items that you make. You can connect online with other friends who have the game and visit their islands, and therefore it has a fun social aspect to it. It’s just a very calm, pure, addictive game. It’s kept the real-world anxiety away.

In the real world, we have also been able to go for a lot of walks, had Zoom dance parties with friends, and even virtually watched my sister and her fiance have their “first dance” on their would-be wedding day.

5. If you have any pets or kids, describe them as your co-worker and tell us what they are doing right now.

No pets or kids, but my partner has basically been a co-worker these past couple of months. My co-worker is making snarky remarks about the state of the neighbor’s lawn. The neighbor’s lawn is obsessively immaculate, and we like to imagine the never-ending battle he must be fighting against our dandelions and sticks crossing the border.

6. What pantry meal are you proudest of?

These days I’m more of the sous chef, because my partner is a gifted cook, but one thing I used to make for myself is angel hair pasta with olive oil, rosemary, mint, spinach, fresh tomatoes, kalamata olives, and chunks of whatever cheese I had in the fridge.

7. What are you reading/watching during your isolation?

John Krasinksy’s Some Good News on Youtube. It’ll make you laugh and sob and have warm fuzzies about the good still left in this world. It was his answer to all the bad news you hear all the time from reading/watching the regular news.

For books, I’m reading the latest book in the Rivers of London series. I’m a fantasy/sci-fi fan, as well as a murder-mystery fan, so this series is a perfect blend: a London cop who finds out magic is real and is transferred to the magic division to deal with everything supernatural. It’s clever in the way it ties magic to science, and it’s fun for fans of other fictional universes because of all the references. It’s also refreshing because all of the characters are from diverse backgrounds, and the police system runs effectively and smoothly; I’m tired of the tortured white detective in a corrupt system cliche. Give me magic, diversity, and hope for a justice system that works!

8. What is your hobby? Name your top 5 (hobby-related) recommendations and why.

70's-style jacket crocheted by SamaraI crochet. Like knitting, it can be oddly addicting. A lot of people think it’s difficult, but it’s really just different combinations of the same 4 stitches. The hardest part is learning how to read pattern-speak, but once you know that it’s easy to make just about any pattern. Actually, the hardest part is not having enough time and yarn to make all the patterns you want! Also, there are a lot of really tacky crochet designs in the world, so sorting through them can be tedious.

My 5 crochet-related recommendations are:

  1. The Granny Square blanket. It’s how I learned, hard to mess up, and it makes any couch instantly cozy. You don’t need nice yarn, and it doesn’t need to be color-coordinated because then it would look like it’s trying too hard to be a fancy blanket.
  2. The Double-Crochet stitch. It’s in every pattern, and it’s a satisfying movement to do with your hands once you get up to speed.
  3. Natural fiber yarn. It feels snobby to say so, but acrylic yarn feels so scratchy on my fingers. Wool or cotton feels nicer, looks better, and is warmer. It is expensive though, so cheaper yarn is fine for beginners.
  4. Scratch Supply Co. in Lebanon, NH. They have a great yarn collection that they are always adding to. The owners are knowledgeable and can help with yarn and pattern selection, as well as help troubleshoot with why this scarf came out all wonky.
  5. Pinterest. It has a ton of free crochet patterns, which is perfect for anyone still learning or not ready to commit to spending money on a project they aren’t sure they’ll complete.

9. Where’s a favorite place you have traveled and where would you most like to travel to next?

Iceland photo from Samara's vacationI recently went to Iceland, but only for 4 days, so I would really love to go back and explore it more. The topography was just insanely beautiful, and the vibe of the whole country was chill and matter-of-fact. We started a hike at 9pm, because the sun was still out! It was spontaneous, we hiked to a hot spring, but couldn’t go in because we didn’t have towels, and would have died of exposure on the way back because the hottest it gets in Iceland is MAYBE 65 degrees. Definitely bring your light winter jacket to Iceland in the summer.

Next, I’d like to go to Hawaii or the Azores. One day, when everything has settled, I want to see the Italian countryside.

10. What frivolous things do you miss about being out in the normal world?

Being able to clink glasses while cheersing with my friends. Is cheersing a word?


This post was written by the Water Cooler Committee, Samara Cary, Paige Scudder, Elaina Vitale, and Samantha Wiebkin, for the Biomedical Libraries.

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