From the army to the Ablah


Brian Hayes

Cynorra Jackson, access services manager at Ablah Library, poses in front of a bookshelf in Ablah.

Military service brought Cynorra Jackson from Maryland to Kansas. Libraries kept her here.

As the access services manager at the circulation desk at Ablah Library, Jackson knows a thing or two about dispersing information.

“There are things you’re gonna need to read — publications, old stories. I love giving people those tools to take them to the next level of their careers,” Jackson said.

“That is my purpose. To continue to feed people information.”

Jackson said libraries still play an important role in the age of information.

“I don’t believe that the library will be phased out. I just don’t believe that,” Jackson said. “I think we are still gonna be a repository for information.”

“Look at textbooks, for example. A lot of students don’t wanna buy textbooks. They wanna come to the library and check them out.”

Jackson said libraries preserve authenticity in a way that online resources cannot.

“There are a lot of things that just haven’t been, and may never be, put into an electronic format because it’s not possible,” Jackson said.

“There’s the Gutenberg Bible, for example. It has gold on it. It has gems on it. It has jewels on it. You can’t put that in electronic format.”

“There are original manuscripts from a lot of the famous authors we’ve read growing up. Some of these pages are so fragile. If you touch them, because they’re so old, they’ll now fall apart.”

Jackson’s library career started in an unlikely place — McConnell Air Force base. She began working at the library on base after eight years in the military.

Jackson underlined a commonality between her work in the military and her work in the library — serving people.

“I did eight years (in the military), then I got out and said, ‘okay, what’s next?’” Jackson said.

“This was the next step. Still staying in the area of serving people, because that’s what I did in the military — you serve the country.”

Jackson described her job in the military as a “customer service-type position.”

She was in charge of cooking and preparing lodging for soldiers. She said she enjoyed giving troops something to look forward to.

“You’re away from family and loved ones in a war situation,” Jackson said. “You want something to look forward to. A hot meal is something to look forward to.”

During her time in the military, Jackson was deployed overseas three times — once to Bahrain and twice to Qatar.

“We were responsible for quality of life,” Jackson said.

That meant learning to confront the realities of death in a potential war situation.

“If we had to deploy and it was a bad situation, we had to learn mortuary — how to bag and tag remains,” Jackson said.

“That was part of my job description,” Jackson said. “It is dark. There’s nothing happy about it. But it’s part of it.”

Her job description still involves her passion for serving others.

“I’m still in the place of serving, I’m just serving a specific group of people in an academic setting,” Jackson said.

“It’s not my job to make you understand. It’s my job to hand you the information. And once I hand you the information, you take that and you take yourself to the next level.”