Every night last year, Library Proctor Robert Perry could be seen patrolling the halls of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL), reading a newspaper in front of the Garver Room, and conversing with students. This year, Perry remains a beloved part of the library’s staff despite its temporary change of venue.
In 2005, shortly after leaving his job at Verizon where he worked in cost accounting, finance, and product management, Perry came to Andover. He loved proctoring the OWHL from the start, despite dealing with occasional mischief from students.
“I was asked to come up to [Andover] and see if I could help out in the evening proctoring in OWHL. I liked it immediately. I loved the building; I loved the books; I liked the kids. Although it was a bit of a headache at times looking after the kids, I really liked it, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” said Perry.
Perry says he’s seen just about everything during his years as a library proctor, from boisterous moments to more earnest endeavours.
“I have a million memories of evenings in the library. I feel like I’ve seen everything that could possibly happen in there, although I know that’s not true. I hope that’s not true and that there will be some other things. I remember things that were funny, whimsical. The Seniors playing a game of wiffle ball in the Freeman Room one night shortly before their graduation is something I will never forget,” said Perry.
Perry continued, “There’s a serious aspect to it that means a lot to me, and that’s looking after the Garver Room, our beloved silent room, and my memories of students in there working their tails off and then seeing how successful they are at reaching their goals.”
Perry works alongside a number of his colleagues every evening and has found that many share his passion for observing the success of students.
“My colleagues are terrific. That was one of the things that attracted me about working here. They’re all highly educated at their profession, and a lot of them are as crazy about the students as I am. They love working with the students, and they give a lot in their lives to be here,” said Perry.
Stephanie Scenna, Library Proctor and Circulation Assistant, has worked with Perry for over four years and has come to know him as a friend in addition to being a coworker.
“Mr. Perry is a wonderful work colleague and friend. He is kind, thoughtful and quite funny. He has such a rapport with students and really enjoys working at [Andover]. I admire his work ethic and know he is always willing to help out if I need him for anything,” wrote Scenna in an email to The Phillipian.
While Perry has come to love numerous aspects of his work at Andover, his favorite part is interacting with the students.
Perry said, “I like just about everything about my job. I love the library. I love the staff that we work with. It’s an amazingly dedicated staff. I like the environment at OWHL. I’m somewhat of an avid reader. I’ve become more and more so as time goes on working in the library, so I love the books. But, most of all, being able to interact with the students is a real kick for me in the cases where I’m able to help one a little bit, so that’s what I like the most.”
Linda Spence, Reference and Instructional Librarian, admires Perry’s personal connections with the students, some of which extend beyond the library and into the athletic sphere.
“I’m impressed by how well he knows the kids, especially those who play sports because he likes and enjoys sports. He goes to people’s games and meets, and he can talk with them about how well they’ve done, and he sort of follows kids on their athletic career,” said Spence.
Colin McNamara-Bordewick ’21 first knew Perry as the keeper of the peace in the library, but have since gotten to know him beyond that.
McNamara-Bordewick said, “I spent a lot of time in the library last year, and he was always down in the basement walking around, just making sure everyone was doing the right thing. After a while, I started to get to know him better and knew him as more than just the library guy… It was always really nice to just say hi to him and see him around. He’s just a really sweet person.”
Nathan Wang ’19 noted that Perry stayed late in the library last year to watch over Robotics Club. Even though the club has relocated for the year, Perry still makes it a point to drop in.
“On Friday nights, I run the Robotics Club. We had to stay in the library later, so Mr. Perry would stay late in the library for us. Sometimes he would come up and say hi. We’d check out the key from him, and then we’d just talk with him more. This year, since we’re in another room now, Mr. Perry also stays late Friday nights just to keep an eye on us,” said Wang.
Perry challenges himself to learn as many names as possible. Michele Tlaseca ’19 was surprised that Perry remembered her name after she returned from School Year Abroad in Spain.
“I left for Spain Upper Year, and he still remembers me, and he still knows my name. I changed my name… from Melanie to Michele, and he acknowledges that, which I think is pretty cool, even though I left for a year. I just assumed he wouldn’t remember me, but he does… He’s a really great man, and I’m glad I got to know him and am getting to know him,” said Tlaseca.