The United States Military Academy Library is pleased to announce that it has hired Manja Yirka as its new Serials Librarian. A woman of many talents, Manja brings a wealth of experience and interests to USMA. All told, she has worked in six different types of libraries: medical, pharmaceutical, military, engineering, academic and public. As Serials Librarian she will primarily be responsible for the acquisition, collection, organization, cataloging and general management of the Library’s periodicals and continuing resources. She is a welcome member of the Materials Processing Division.
This is Manja’s second time around at West Point, having previously worked at Keller Army Hospital following her family’s returned from a five year tour in Frankfurt, Germany. Croatian by descent but born and raised in Ohio, she is fluent in Croatian, and has a reasonable understanding of Russian and German. Manja worked for many years as a Contract Linguist for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and also as a Medical Librarian for The Dana Medical Library, University of Vermont Medical School in Burlington. She was Engineering Librarian for the US Army Corps of Engineers in Frankfurt, and Senior Librarian for Pfizer Corporation, Pearl River, NY.
Manja attended Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where she received a BA in Russian Language (with a minor Art History) and a Master of Science degree in Library Science (with a concentration in Medical Librarianship). She studied German at the University of Maryland (Frankfurt, Germany campus), has a Certificate in Systems Analysis and Design from Marist College, attended graduate business classes at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY and studied Historic Preservation, Studio Art and Art History at the University of Vermont. She is currently a member of the Wallkill River School of Art where she has taken classes in pastel and watercolor painting.
Recently married, Manja and her husband Jim (who she met on match.com) produced their own Do-it-Yourself barn wedding with the help of their adult children. They currently reside in Middletown, NY where they enjoy spending time gardening together, and gatherings with their four children, family and friends.
On behalf of the entire UMSA Library staff we would like say welcome, Manja!
A few questions for Manja:
What inspired you to learn Russian?
I switched to Russian as my major, after doing so poorly in Calculus that I was put on academic probation for a semester. Russian came somewhat easy for me, having grown up speaking Croatian, also a Slavic language. I thought I would teach, following in the footsteps of my father, but my student teaching experience was anything but pleasant. I had to ask myself, “Now what!?”
I chose to get a Masters in Library Science. My sister had gotten her library degree and found interesting employment and that influenced me to do the same. I’ve always been a service-oriented person and I found it fulfilling to help research a topic, locate a book or find a critical piece of information. I also love using technology to improve processes whether at home or at work. My brother is a librarian as well. Three siblings, all librarians.
You lived abroad for five years – any favorite places you’ve visited or lived?
I loved visiting Croatia, most especially the Adriatic coastline. Happening upon Ronchamp, the famous church designed by le Corbusier, was a delight when out for a ride in the eastern French countryside.
What was one of the toughest challenges you have faced as a librarian?
Facilitating the consolidation of 7 libraries into one. We had six weeks time to do the physical part of this move and we succeeded. In addition to the short time line, there was a frenzy of having to toss all the bound volumes we could neither keep nor give away. As a librarian, I had an emotionally difficult time throwing volume upon volume of bound journals into recycle bins. That which had once held scientific discoveries was now reduced to paper to be tossed.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
In spring and summer I can often be found in the garden, on the bike trail or tennis court with my husband. Having studied Historic Preservation, I love the idea of repurposing old buildings into useful structures and I’m always up for a house project. As soon as weather permits, I’ll be on the roof of my house rebuilding the chimney.