Diane Palguta, information commons associate, is retiring after a career at Irwin Library. Photo by Eli Kohn.
EMMA CHAMLEY | STAFF REPORTER | email@example.com
Late at night in Irwin Library, while students are busy studying, Diane Palguta, Irwin Library information commons associate, can always be found with a friendly look on her face. Palguta has worked the night shift, from 4 p.m. to midnight., for the last eight years, but the week of Jan. 30 marks her retirement.
Palguta first moved to Indianapolis after graduating college early at Northwestern University, where she majored in journalism and minored in political science. She began working for the Associated Press, AP, where she was a broadcast editor and correspondent, as well as a statehouse reporter.
Palguta said Butler’s campus became a welcoming place for her in her early days in Indianapolis.
“I was really homesick for a college campus,” Palguta said. “ … I was feeling the absence of all of my friends who were still on campus. I would come and sit in Holcomb Gardens, just to kind of breathe and be on a college campus again … That’s probably my first Indianapolis memory of Butler.”
After working for AP for 14 years, Palguta developed carpal tunnel syndrome, which limited her ability to type, something she was constantly doing at AP. She then began working in public relations, doing research on the student loan industry. Throughout her career, she remained devoted to public service and information — this led her to work at Carmel Public Library and later the Indianapolis Public Library system.
Palguta said after working with people of all different ages at the Indianapolis Public Library, she felt that working with college-aged students would inspire her.
“It makes me feel better about the world, and it’s a really good thing,” Palguta said. “I thought maybe I could also contribute something in terms of encouraging people, and finding resources they need and all that.”
For Palguta, a typical night shift at Irwin consists mostly of managing problems that may have come earlier in the day. One of her favorite parts of the evenings was interacting with student employees, whom she gave advice and helped answer questions. Occasionally, she worked at the front desk when a student employee was sick or called out of work, something she enjoyed.
“Frankly, I love [working at the front desk] because it’s like, ‘Okay, one [book] goes back on the shelf, and one looks interesting,’ so I’ll check it in, and then maybe I’ll check it right back out,” Palguta said. “I’m sort of an occupational hazard.”
Palguta said she has become especially close with the other night employees, especially students. Sophomore biochemistry major Ty Vander Eide met Palguta on his first day as an information commons employee at the library last year. Vander Eide said Palguta was always available for help and that she had an open and friendly personality.
“I’ve never really seen her angry,” Vander Eide said. “She’s always super happy, and you can tell she cares about her job and the people who work there. She really makes it a nice environment at the library for workers, and for anybody in the library.”
Sophomore finance major Elizabeth Reed began working with information commons last year. Reed said because of Palguta’s experience at other libraries, she often went to her when planning events or to get advice. Palguta’s giving spirit stood out to Reed.
“We did a secret Santa gift exchange at the end of last semester, and she was my secret Santa,” Reed said. “She went to Dollar Tree to get as much out of our $10 limit as she could and got me … everything on my list. She was just so excited. She was like ‘I even kept the receipt so I could prove that it was all for under $10.’”
Palguta said her career has been rewarding, partially because of the many different paths she has taken.
“It’s not quite a linear path, but it’s been so much fun and so interesting,” Palguta said. “I have people from every place I’ve ever worked that I’m still friends with.”
After her retirement, Palguta plans to spend more time with her grandchildren in North Carolina, as well as travel and get involved with volunteering. She said she looks forward to cheering on the Bulldogs at Butler basketball games — something that often interfered with her work schedule.
While Palguta often gave advice to student employees such as Reed, she offered advice to Butler students beyond the confines of Irwin. Palguta said being exposed to different cultures and perspectives is one of the most important pieces of advice she could give.
“Expose yourself to a lot of different interesting things,” Palguta said. “If you see a speaker who’s coming — even though it’s not related to your major, but you think [the events would] be interesting … [like] the Visiting Writers Series [is] just outstanding, the Woods lecture series is another thing that you [Butler students] are so lucky to have … be open to the opportunities you have here.”
Curiosity is also something Palguta values and something she said is important college students keep in mind.
“Be curious,” Palguta said. “There’s nothing wrong in specializing [in] what interests you, but be curious about the people around you too. Form some really good relationships. The professors and staff are all really caring and interesting people.”
Reed said Palguta’s presence at the library will be missed after she officially retires.
“[Palguta] is just the sweetest lady,” Reed said. “She is just so sweet. I’m honestly really sad she’s retiring, but super happy for her. You can come to her with any problem, library related, non-library related, and she would just be there to listen to you, help if she could.”