Interview with Sean Cordes

Photo of Sean Cordes
Sean Cordes
Title: Associate Professor
Department: Libraries
Office Location: 215 Malpass Library
Office Phone: 309/298-2785

Do you specialize in any areas?

I specialize in a lot of topics, English, Psychology, and even newer things like blogs, tweets, expert authors out on the internet, different types of authority. But the thing I'm best at is probably human-computer interaction in libraries. Students can get really frustrated trying to format things like running headers, table of contents, adding citations, and they're really pleased when somebody can make this magic happen for them and they get to focus on the work.

What is your favorite thing to research?

I don't have a favorite topic. I really like the whole research process, mostly because it's continuous. Running experiments, collecting and putting data together, and making sense of what students and professionals need in terms of information, to have better lives or make a better world. It's hard, but that's what really counts.

Tell about a time when you were able to help a patron that really sticks with you.

Well, this may sound absurd, but one time recently a student called on the phone and wanted to know about the meanings of "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett. And she'd never read anything like that before in her entire school career, and she was amazed about the social and political and religious meanings, um, inside the work that affect us all today. It was really cool to see somebody so interested in English literature, and how that could have an impact in their life. People take the liberal arts for granted a lot of times, but this was one instance where it really shows how it could make a better world for all of us.

How can patrons get ahold of you?

Well I always like it when people can stop by and chat face to face. But information never stops, and neither do I. Email's usually the best way to get a hold of me ( but there's a lot of different ways to contact librarians these days including Twitter, mobile devices, even web conferencing. And so all of those things help me keep in touch with people and make information move forward.

What do you geek out over?

If I had to pick one thing, I'd say library technology. Libraries have always been a gateway to our past, and our history, but they're also the doorway to the new future. 3D printing, mobile applications, even drones, help us connect our world together. So I'd say information technology in libraries is about the greatest thing and strength that we have right now, and I'm just glad to be part of it. But in my personal life, I like to use information in other ways. So I write and compose songs with my wife, and we use audio information to experience the world. I also do a lot of digital photography. I like how the visual and audio can be separate but still combine to make more meaning.

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