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Books, Music, And A Tortoise Named Cortez

Books, Music, And A Tortoise Named Cortez

Deborah Jakubs, vice provost for Library Affairs, enjoys interests far beyond book covers

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Editor's Note: The Blue Devil of the Week highlights a different Duke employee each week. Visit the archives for more articles.

Deborah Jakubs and Cortez
Deborah Jakubs, vice provost for Library Affairs, with Cortez, the "hand-me-up" tortoise she received from her son. Photo courtesy of Deborah Jakubs.

Durham, NC - Name: Deborah Jakubs, Ph.D.

Position: Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs

Years at Duke: 29

What I do at Duke: The simple answer is that I run the main library system at Duke. That includes the Perkins-Bostock library, which is our main library, the Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Music Library, Lilly Library and the library at the Duke Marine Lab. We have about 240 employees, over 80,000 journal subscriptions, at least 500,000 e-books and more than 6 million books. 

My first paid job: I was a Fuller Brush girl - a Fullerette. It was a summer high school job going door to door selling brushes and cleaning materials. 

When I'm not at work I like to: Host concerts. About 10 years ago, my husband Jim Roberts and I started a house concert series for singer-songwriters and bluegrass musicians. We love the music,  but we don't play. We just host the performers and open our home to an appreciative audience of about 100. We've had Pierce Pettis, the Kruger Brothers, the Steep Canyon Rangers, Tim O'Brien, Kate Campbell, Robin and Linda Williams, and lots of other musicians play for us. We also host writers' retreats each spring and fall at a place called "Doe Branch Ink" just north of Asheville.

To start a conversation with me, someone should ask about: Argentina, Chile or Patagonia. I lived in Buenos Aires  during my dissertation research, and I go back about once a year, sometimes on my own, sometimes as part of Duke Alumni trips. 

What I love about Duke:  I love the spirit of entrepreneurship and the flexibility of Duke. If people have good ideas, they are listened to at Duke. 

Something most people don't know about me: I have a large pet sulcata tortoise named Cortez. He is a hand-me-up from my younger son and is now 4 years old, about two feet long, and roams our fenced back yard when he is not in his special house with heat lamps. My dogs aren't sure how to react to him.

A memorable moment for me at work: The opening of Bostock Library in October 2005. It was my first major act as vice provost for library affairs, although I'd been engaged with the library renovation project since 1999. It was exciting to hear the speakers -  faculty, architects and students - articulate their enthusiasm for the central role of the library in the life of the university. And when we opened Bostock Library, it created the opportunity to build the LINK, which hadn't even been in the original renovation plans.

If I had $5 million I would: Give a significant amount to the library to complete the renovation project and support new initiatives, endow Doe Branch Ink,  and support The Schoolhouse of Wonder, an environmental educational organization I have been affiliated with since my 29-year-old son was 7.

A book I recently finished: "State of Wonder" by Ann Patchett. I didn't read it because it was the required freshman reading. I just like Ann Patchett's writing.

If I could have one superpower it would be: The ability to get people to extend their attention span and engage in reflection and conversation in a thoughtful way rather than jumping from topic to topic.

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