Staff ID - Meet Janet Spongberg

Learn more about the the circulation coordinator at the Werner Josten Performing Arts Library.

Janet Spongberg, Josten Circulation Coordinator


Before coming to Smith 23 years ago, Janet Spongberg, the circulation coordinator at the Werner Josten Performing Arts Library, wandered the world. A native Californian, she followed her military family across the country from the island paradise of Hawaii to the frozen forests of Maine. She also spent formative young adult years working and studying in Switzerland and Germany.

Trained as a teacher, Janet has worked with elementary schoolers with behavioral needs and taught middle school English. However, her affinity for music and the performing arts exerts a strong pull. As a classical music DJ at UC Santa Barbara, she became a regular at the music library there, which led to a post-graduate job in the Arts Library. It’s no surprise that, when Janet came to the Valley, she ended up anchoring the operation at Josten!

Janet works with the staff and student assistants at Josten to make their rich collections, inspiring spaces, and friendly service available to their patrons.  She sees Josten as the intellectual community center for the performing arts on the Smith campus.

We asked Janet to tell us a little more about herself.

What is the best part of your job?

I love working with student assistants and patrons, and getting to know them as they develop through their student years. I like making connections and see this potential all around me. Two years ago, I finally acted on an urge to start a performance series here in the library: First Fridays@Five. Once a month, we connect the creativity of our library users with the beautiful acoustics of our Mezzanine in informal and very diverse performances. I privately think of this as the “Noise in the Library” series.

Which library resource do you most like to tell people about?

Our beautiful and inspiring spaces for work, study, and napping include the best soft hassock/armchair combo on campus in our Mezzanine. Also, in addition to over 60,000 audio recordings, we now have vast stores of streaming audio and video available to our users anywhere. Our group rooms have large screens and lots of audio/video/computer equipment.

What are you reading right now? What's good about it?

Non-fiction dominates my nightstand, including several books about the Sacred Harp (shapenote singing) tradition, and a memoir by Hilary Mantel, Giving Up the Ghost, that I may or may not finish, a couple of books by Sherry Turkle, the MIT professor who writes about how technology changes us, and how we live with it, several issues of The New Yorker, and a Netbook, so that I can read The New York Times online. Oh, and Stephen Batchelor's book, Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. And more. There's a stack. I dabble, but I don't have much time for reading. I wish I hadn't misjudged The New Yorker for years based on its advertising copy. I missed years of reading pleasure as a consequence. Seen from the West Coast, it just seemed so alien. I think that most books could and probably should be an extended New Yorker article.

What is your favorite book from childhood, and why?

Well, probably Little Women, because it introduced me to a strain of progressive American culture that I identify with. I now judge Bronson Alcott severely as a father, though.

What inspired you to work in a library?

I was working at the campus radio station at UC Santa Barbara as a classical announcer, and found myself spending lots of time in the Arts Library preparing for my shows. The two worlds merged, and after graduation, they offered me a job at the Music Service Desk, a wonderful place still.

Is there something about you that others would be surprised to learn?

No. I am an open book.

Janet can be found at the Josten library Monday through Friday. If you don't see her don't be afraid to ring the classic little bell at the service desk, or ask for her.