Travis Schaben recently joined the library staff as Associate Director for Library Systems. He arrived here from Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where he was librarian for both the Vogelweh and Ramstein Base libraries for the last four years.
I recognized his last name as being of German origin, and couldn’t help but ask what Schaben means in German. He explained that it is an unusual last name, which the Germans usually pronounced “schäben” (with the umlaut), which means wood shavings, or shives. (A shive, I have learned, is a wooden fitting used to plug an ale cask, or in New Orleans slang it means “cool.”) Schaben (without the umlaut) is a slang term for cockroach. In leaving all but the last slang term out of the discussion, we’ll just say Travis is “cool.”
Travis grew up in the small town of Holbrook, Nebraska (pop. 300), where he was one of only three children who attended school together from kindergarten to 8th grade. As a result, he says it was really hard to get away with anything. He enlisted in the Air Force directly from high school, serving at Ramstein AFB.
After returning to the states, Travis completed his BA in literature from Webster University in St. Louis, MO. His introduction to library work was at University of Florida (Gainesville), where he was assigned to Acquisitions and Licensing, but took on IT work as a side job because of his interest in it and the fact that the library contained a branch of the University IT Department. From there it was a logical segue to library school, and he attended Florida State University (Tallahassee) for his MLIS.
Upon his “re-arrival” in Germany in 2010, his first experience working as a DOD civilian brought several challenges. Unexpectedly, within his first few months, he was told he would be singlehandedly responsible for not just the opening of a new library, but also the closing of an existing library and the move of another library collection from a temporary location.
Though Travis has not before held the title of “systems” librarian, he is a self-proclaimed techie and has gravitated to the IT role in each of his past positions. He has a passion for researching, learning and evaluating new technologies and exploring different ways technology can be used in libraries.
In his spare time, Travis likes hiking, biking, climbing and skiing—pretty much any outdoor activity. In addition, he reads Russian classic literature and techie stuff.
He and his partner, Alison, live in Cold Spring with their two rabbits, Turnip and Belle, who travelled here with them from Germany. I asked Travis , “Why rabbits?” He explained that about 15 years ago he and Ali adopted a rabbit that needed a home. That rabbit lived for about 12 years and moved to Germany with them. When it passed away, they rescued Turnip, a rabbit who had been in the shelter for five years because everyone found unfriendly. Later, Belle joined the family, also as a rescue. Although the locals loved these furry creatures, most Germans would think of them as a meal, rather than the family they are to Travis. The real question, then is, “Why NOT rabbits?”
We’re grateful to have Travis joining our staff, where he will likely meet many more challenging situations (and tackle them head-on) and update us on the joys and antics of these small mammals in the family Leporidae.
[It is with sadness that we report, with condolences, that Belle has passed on since the time of this writing.]
Contents contributed by Manja Yirka, Continuing Resources Librarian