Upon entering Crossett Library, behind the large glass windows in the foyer, sits the bespectacled, quick–to-smile research librarian, Joe Tucker.
Books are not what brought Tucker to library work; rather a fortunate series of events and opportunities have led him to hold this position.
“Music is my thing,” he says. Born in Boston, Tucker went through the Catholic school system with the help of his ability to “match pitch and sense of rhythm”: as a choir singer in the boy’s chorus he could attend the institution for free. He picked up the bass and guitar on his own time and eventually played in several Irish singing groups, a Beatles cover ensemble, and various rock-and-roll bands.
Singing provided more than an education and unlikely career for Tucker, however. It is thanks to his time with the choir that he was able to sing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at a young age; “to this day I am still kind of stunned,” he says of the experience. More recently he was invited to sing a Meredith Monk piece with Bennington community members—“an incredible experience”—as well join in a “little men’s singing group” with Tom Bogdan and other staff members that eventually led to a performance at an art opening for Jim Hodges, a well-known New York-based installation artist.
At some point in his life, however, music proved less lucrative than desired. After majoring in Music and Classics at Trinity College, Tucker began working as a library staff member at Boston College. “If you work at the Boston College Library they’ll help pay for library school,” so he began studying to become a librarian. This led to work throughout the northeast, and eventually at Bennington College where he has worked since 2004.
Overall, however, Tucker’s recent life has been “centered around the family.” Pictures of his three children ornament his desk: his young twins helping him with yard work, and his daughter beaming beside a large snowman. Though the children are in middle and high school now, his family remains a focus.
While living in White Creek, New York, his children engage with the Bennington County community by singing with the local children’s choir and attending Hiland Hall, a K-8 school started by Bennington alumni Jessica Howard. Tucker raves about the education.
Providence, Rhode Island is the most recent city he has lived in.“I miss the food,” he says, protesting when I ask further: “You’re gonna make me sad!” His favorite restaurant served Vietnamese food, Which he appreciated for its “funky” atmosphere; to get to the bathroom, one had to walk through the kitchen where orders were flying with rich aromas of food, and clamber down a ladder to a sort of basement where there where an old lady lay on a cot, watching black and white films. This quirky ambience is what he also appreciates, and sometimes misses, about Bennington College.
Tucker showed me a video of a flash mob that occurred some years ago in the previous version of Commons’ Dining Hall and expressed notalgia for the old, quirky, architecture and the creativity it allowed. It remains an excellent place to work, however, especially, he says, because the “students are so nice, they’re the most gracious people.”
Working at Crossett Library is “predictable and unpredictable” and he feels that “over the years, affection for the library has only grown,” in him and in the students. It is unique because it is “driven by student interest,” thus it has a constantly growing “organic life to it.”
Find Tucker anytime you need assistance with research, and he will try every avenue to bring you resources.