The start of COVID-19 ended his senior year prematurely as he packed up his campus apartment and moved back home to Oklahoma City where he lived for the next year and a half.
He found a few different odd jobs before securing a position as a reference librarian at the State Library of Kansas in Topeka in November 2021.
“I fell in love with the people I work with and the work that I do,” Heard said.
He also earned his graduate degree this past summer — a program he began with the intent of becoming an archivist. His job at the State Library has shifted those goals a bit.
“I still finished out the program this summer with an archive focus, but for foreseeable future, I’m using my knowledge in the library world,” he explained.
Heard got his first librarian-adjacent experience working for Newman’s University Archives while a student.
“I really fell in love with the history of Newman working there, and after graduation I hoped to do it full time, hence my master’s program,” he said. “I always envisioned working in government in some capacity later in life. As a librarian at the State Library, I get to help a wide variety of people with a wide variety of needs. By doing so, I get to indulge my love of history through our collection and make a difference by participating in and helping others understand the legislative process.”
Heard shared that a day in his life at the State Library is “feast or famine depending on the time of year.”
As a reference librarian, his work revolves around the state legislative sessions, which normally run from January to May each year. During those times, the State Library’s reference team of four librarians helps with a wide variety of inquires, ranging from compiling legislative histories for members of government to answering questions about the legislative process for the general public.
Heard also works as a Senate bill indexer during the session, recording information on each Senate bill that is introduced so that the reference team can better help patrons. During the rest of the year when the legislature is adjourned, Heard still answers questions but also has the opportunity to work on library-focused projects.
“For instance, this past interim I have administered Notable Books grants, which helps Kansas libraries purchase select titles every year,” he said. “It’s been a great learning experience for me, and I am happy to be a part of helping libraries provide new material to their patrons.”
At the moment, Heard’s primary goal is to continue learning from his colleagues at the State Library.
“Every day here is something different, and I’ve been fortunate to hone my skills and pick up a few new ones over the last year,” he said.
At Newman, Heard was a St. Newman Scholar, an Honors student, a member of chorale and the troubadours, and a cast member in fall musicals.
“My participation in the arts really formed me into who I am today and helped as a creative outlet for the stresses that college brought,” he said. “The members of the music department were like a second family while I was there.”
Earn a degree in history
Students choose to study history at Newman because they share a common love for a past and shaping the present.