On July 27 faculty and staff gathered with their friends at Bryant Conference Center for the annual UA Service Recognition Celebration, which marks the employment anniversaries, in five-year increments, of UA workers. Among the dozens of employees honored, only one reached the half-century mark.
Ruth Weeks: 50 Years and Counting
In August 1973, armed with a brand-new master’s degree in library science, Ruth Weeks began a job in The University of Alabama School of Law library, and loved it. Fifty years later she is still at the library, but while her love for her job has been constant, a lot of other things have changed.
“I started as the only cataloger in a department of about seven people. Now the department size has doubled. There were about 8,000 students on the whole UA campus, and well, that has certainly changed,” she said with a laugh.
During her career she has seen technology change from the physical card catalog to the computer. And she was the first library employee bold enough to try a self-correcting electric typewriter when it arrived.
Weeks is now the associate director of collections services for the Bounds Law Library, and she works from an office stacked with books, the walls papered with posters of Crimson Tide sports teams, another thing about UA that she loves.
It doesn’t feel like 50 years. Working with so many different people, especially so many young people, has kept me young.Ruth Weeks
Her department is responsible for selecting, ordering, paying for and keeping track of all the books on the shelves and in the computer catalog. She has had contact with every book in the library. “Hundreds of thousands of books through the years,” she said. “We have e-books, but lawyers still use a lot of physical books. I catalog all of them. They’ve all passed through my hands at some point.”
A lot of books quite literally passed through her hands when the School of Law moved from Farrah Hall near the heart of campus to the Law Center, which opened in January 1978.
“The staff gave up our Christmas vacation to move every book ourselves to be ready for spring classes,” she recalled. While she misses the charm of Farrah Hall, and the closeness to students and the heart of campus, Weeks admits the Law Center’s location has benefits. “The parking is great!”
She managed to keep close to many students even at the new, roomier building. After 50 years, the children of some of her earlier student workers have now become library student workers themselves.
Weeks now spends about half her day inputting data into the computer, but still must spend time moving about the library checking on things.
She acknowledged that retirement must come sometime but isn’t retiring from following her sports teams. Her father had played semi-pro baseball, she said, and she had attended her first game at only six months old. She was a Crimson Tide fan long before she came to campus for her master’s degree all those years ago.
As she celebrates her work milestone, this Crimson Tide fan, alumna and mother of two UA alumni has a piece of advice for those just starting their professional journey here. “This school offers so much. Take advantage of all the opportunities the University provides — the classes, the atmosphere, the culture. Take it all in.”
While no one matched Weeks’ work record this year, several UA employees celebrated anniversaries at the July 27 employee service recognition. Those recognized for 30 years or more of service to the Capstone included: