Law Library Circulation Director Makes a Difference

Marie Mize helps people find what they need

Marie Mize (Photo submitted)

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 Manager of Access Services at the Alexander Campbell King Law Library, Mize does this daily. She heads the circulation department, which includes more than 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 seem effortless.

During her 15 years at the library, she has witnessed a tremendous expansion of its digital collections. This ability to find something online makes documents more accessible to its customers. The library’s online materials are available through Digital Commons, including items such as digital versions of paintings that hang in law school facilities.

“There’s a lot more than I thought,” she said. “As a patron entering the library, you cannot see what is going on behind the scenes. Before I came to work at the library, I never really thought about the people who buy the books, the people who catalog and make sure everything is in our system for you to search and find the books, and the people who work in the stacks who make sure the books are put in the right place.

In a way, her current position builds on the skills she acquired during her 20 years working in retail. Mize grew up in Madison County, and her grandfather, father, mother, and three brothers all graduated from UGA. Mize earned a bachelor’s degree from Kennesaw State University and an 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 his brothers was working at UGA at the time and suggested that he apply to the law library. They were looking for someone with customer service experience, and Mize’s management experience proved to be a good fit.

“I still, from time to time, call the computer ‘the register,'” she said. “It’s really the same format. You’re trying to figure out what the need is, and that’s really what it’s all about.

Mize points out that because it is a niche library primarily serving law students, faculty, and staff, they are able to do more than most general libraries and really get to know their customers and anticipate their needs.

“We help shape the state with our students,” she said.

A typical day for Mize depends on what’s going on at the library, but it still involves a lot of interaction with students at the circulation desk. The library gets a little quieter during the summer when several people are studying for their bar exams, and Mize sees this as an opportunity to catch up on projects.

Mize considers these interactions with students, faculty, and staff to be the most important part of her job. She sees it as a collaboration to help them find what they need. And ultimately, it builds trust.

“I want all of our law students to feel comfortable coming into the office, coming to me, and coming to everyone who works in my department,” she said.

Mize enjoys spending time browsing the aisles of old books in the basement of the library, but she also makes time to be involved with the university beyond the library. She served on the Staff Council for several years, first becoming involved as a member of the Law School’s Staff Resource Group. Eventually, she was elected vice president, also serving as liaison to the Georgia University System Staff Council, and then president.

The experience, she said, was eye-opening and helped her see and understand how things work in college. Through the board, staff members have a collective voice that they can share with directors. 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 of the Moina Michael Poppy Project, a non-profit organization that works to improve the lives of veterans through fundraising and education.

In his spare time, Mize loves to travel, especially trips that bring history to life. She also spends time crafting and with her family, friends and pets.

Whatever their passions, Mize encourages people to get out there and make a difference.

“I believe the more people involved, the better,” she said.