Marie Mize knows how to help people find what they need.
“Solving a problem just makes me happy,” she said. “That’s why I’m here—to be part of the solution.”
As access services manager of the Alexander Campbell King Law Library, Mize does that on a daily basis. She runs the circulation department, which includes more than just books. In her role, she also oversees everything from databases to a room full of printers and scanners.
“Circulation ties everything together,” she said. “We do more than just check in and check out books. Everyone comes together to make it look effortless.”
During her 15 years with the library, she’s witnessed a sizeable expansion of its digital collections. That ability to find something online makes materials more accessible to her patrons. The library’s online materials are available through Digital Commons, including things like digital versions of paintings hanging in the law school’s facilities.
“There is a lot more to it than I thought,” she said. “As a patron walking into the library, you don’t get to see what goes on behind the scenes. Before coming to work at the library, I never really thought about the people who buy the books, the cataloging people who make sure that everything is in our system so that you can look up and find the books, and the people who work in the stacks who make sure the books are shelved in the right spot.”
In a way, her current position leans on skills she learned during 20 years of working in retail. Mize grew up in Madison County, and her grandfather, father, mother and three brothers all got degrees from UGA. Mize earned a bachelor’s degree from Kennesaw State University and her MBA from Auburn University.
After that, Mize spent several years working in retail for companies like Timex and Remington before returning to the Athens area. One of her brothers worked at UGA at that time and suggested she apply at the Law Library. They were looking for someone with a customer service background, and Mize’s managerial experience proved to be a good fit.
“I still, every once in a while, call the computer ‘the register,’” she said. “It’s really the same format. You try to figure out what the need is, and that’s really what it comes down to.”
Mize points out that because they are a niche library serving mostly law students, faculty and staff, they’re able to do more than most generalized libraries and truly get to know their patrons and anticipate their needs.
“We’re helping to shape the state with our students,” she said.
A typical day for Mize depends on what’s going on at the library, but it always involves lots of interaction with students at the circulation desk. The library does become a bit quieter during the summer when several people are studying for their bar exam, and Mize sees that as an opportunity to catch up on projects.
Mize considers those interactions with students, faculty and staff to be the most important part of her job. She sees it as a collaboration so that she can help them find what they need. And in the end, that builds trust.
“I want all of our law students to feel comfortable coming to the desk, coming to me and coming to anyone who works in my department,” she said.
Mize enjoys spending time browsing the aisles of old books in the library’s basement, but she also makes time to get involved at the university beyond the library. She served on the Staff Council for several years, first getting involved as a member of the law school’s Staff Resource Group. Eventually, she was elected as vice president, also serving as a liaison to the University System of Georgia’s Staff Council, and then president.
The experience, she said, was eye-opening and helped her see and understand how things happen at the university. Through the council, staff members have a collective voice they can share with administrators. In fact, Mize said good communication is just one of the skills she honed while serving on the Staff Council.
Mize is also making a difference outside of UGA. She is the director for the Moina Michael Poppy Project, a nonprofit that works to better the lives of veterans through fundraising and education.
In her spare time, Mize enjoys traveling, especially travels that bring history to life. She also spends time crafting and with her family, friends and pets.
No matter what their passions are, Mize encourages people to go out and make a difference.
“I believe that the more people involved, the better,” she said.