“I’ve always been a computer person.”
by Sarah Binns
Dennis Pham is one of those people who does it all: “I go to school full time, work part time, then volunteer,” he says. For the past three years that volunteer time has been spent at Midland Library, where he started to earn volunteer hours for school: “Then I met the staff and it just felt right. I’ve kept at it ever since,” he says. Dennis was first a computer assistant and is now a lab assistant. “That’s more my style,” he says of his new position, “overseeing all of it!”
A Woodstock native, Dennis now lives near Pleasant Valley with his family. Having “always been a computer person,” he’s studying for his bachelor’s degree in mechanical or chemical engineering at PSU. He’s also a production operator at Siltronics, a semiconductor manufacturer. Seeing how the machines work and knowing colleagues who’ve been with the company forty or fifty years inspires him: “One day that’s gonna be me!” he laughs.
While he sometimes works as many as 70 hours a week, Dennis says that’s just fine and the job helps him pay for school. It’s a wonder he still finds time to volunteer, but he doesn’t want to give it up, especially since he likes working with computers. “Computers are better than shelving! As a branch assistant there’s lots of the same thing over and over again—with computers it’s a different question every day.”
Midland’s computer lab operates simultaneously and in the same room as the library’s drop in tutoring for adults. Lisa Regimbal, Adult Literacy Coordinator, notes that there is significant crossover between basic computer literacy and literacy. Though Dennis doesn’t volunteer with the adult literacy program, Lisa thinks he is an outstanding partner and is always willing to help with room set-up and computer issues.
Dennis also sings the praises of the library staff. “I like working with Lisa,” he says. “I think Lisa is amazing for getting that program started there, I look up to her.” He adds he wants to give a “shoutout to Darrell, Jesse, Maureen, Alán,” and the rest of the staff “for making my days awesome. They’re a really good crew, especially the branch assistants,” he says with a beaming smile. Given his commitment and enthusiasm for Midland, it’s easy to see how Dennis keeps coming back—and why the staff call him “an outstanding volunteer” right back!
A few facts about Dennis
Home library: Midland
Currently reading: “Not reading anything right now, just studying.” He does read lots of articles for school and work.
Favorite book from childhood: The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. “He was my favorite author at the time.”
Most influential book: War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. “It stuck with me. It made me think anything can happen!”
Favorite browsing section: Sci-fi and then WWII historical. “I also like to brush up on nonfiction.”
Book that made him laugh or cry: Overlord, a Japanese series, made him laugh. But, he says, “I’ve laughed at a lot of books.”
Favorite place to read: “Mostly I just read on my bed after 8pm. I’m a night reader.”
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