Ryan Perry landed in Athens while on his “tour of Southern colleges,” taking a job in Access Services intending to establish residency and attend school fulltime. Learning about tuition remission, he decided to finish out his undergraduate degree here following stints at Tulane and the University of Alabama at Huntsville. He ultimately earned two undergraduate degrees – in English and philosophy – and recently has begun graduate work specializing in Medieval English literature.
“After finishing the master's program here, I plan to earn a Ph.D., eventually teaching in Medieval English literature,” he said. “I don't mind the Renaissance so much either.”
Ryan accepted a position in Preservation, but split his time being trained in that department while continuing to work part-time in Access Services. He has no trouble remembering the date he began working full-time in Preservation. When he arrived for work the second day, a television in Media caught his attention as he passed by; he stood with others watching the coverage of Sept. 11, 2001. Ironically, two years later Ryan played a vital role in the Main Library's recovery from a fire that heavily damaged the second floor of the Annex.
“I had an opportunity to play a role because Nan (McMurry, head of Preservation) was in Italy,” he recalls.
Taking the initiative, Ryan contacted preservationists at Emory to discuss what initial steps needed to be taken to care for the collection.
“I also did research on my own because I knew they (disaster recovery specialists) would want to do something to our books and I needed to figure out the best course of action,” he said.
When McMurry returned, she and Ryan logged 11- and 12-hour days assessing the damage, overseeing the removal of damaged books from the building, coordinating cleaning efforts and a host of other tasks. The bulk of the work lasted for six months, but it was only in July of 2006 that their part of the fire recovery efforts was complete.
When not performing heroic tasks for the sake of information dissemination, Ryan enjoys reading. “I like fiction, obviously, and philosophy. I work a lot with Geoffrey Chaucer, as well as Jacques Lacan and Michel Foucault. Over the summer I read The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580. I don't have our (the Libraries') copy because I liked it so much I bought it.”
Among his graduate school activities, Ryan is in a student group that has received administrative funding for a critical theory reading group in the English department.
Ryan admits to reading popular fiction, as well. “This summer I also read The DaVinci Code. I was doing work on Thomas Malory and ‘grail quests'. What interested me about The DaVinci Code is it's a grail quest narrative, so it's medieval genre.”
In movies, he is partial to directors Pedro Almodovar and Alfred Hitchcock. He describes himself as an omnivore, but is particularly fond of sushi. He enjoys cooking Indian and Italian dishes.
He and his canine companion, Molly, a 6-year-old pit bull-boxer mix, share their home with Meg Delong, a former UGA Libraries employee, and her dog Sophie.
“We live in the house next to Big City Bread and are working to beautify the area,” he said. “We are like the frat houses that are moving into the area, but we are doing a less invasive, more community sensitive, form of gentrification.”
Any animal lovers spotting the cow rib wind chime hanging among the plants, art and Tibetan prayer flags on the porch can be assured it came from a farm owned by a vegetarian.
Working fulltime at the Libraries and graduate school leaves Ryan little time for other activities, but he likes to socialize with his friends. And they don't allow him to talk about critical theory.
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