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May 2000

A familiar library face heads out: J.K. Emery

J.K. Emery. (Photo by Carlye Calvin.)

With his warm smile and calm demeanor, library assistant J.K. Emery has helped bring order to NCAR's holdings at ML, FL, and Jeffco for the past 14 years. Beneath his placid exterior, you'll find a man who fondly recalls the roar of a pressroom and the smell of hot type. J.K. joined the NCAR Library after retiring from a long career in publishing and reporting.

"Marcelee Gralapp [head of the Boulder Public Library] used to accuse me of being a closet librarian, and I think it's probably true. My interest has always been print on paper, ink on paper, that kind of thing. There's something about the feel of paper."

J. K.'s love of all things published began during his childhood. He worked as a printer during high school in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and college at CU. After completing his bachelor's in journalism,. J.K. earned his editorial stripes at various newspapers in Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming. He was an editor at the Torrington Telegram, "a real wild one in Wyoming. Then I worked for the Scottsbluff Star-Herald for a number of years as a wire editor. A friend of mine came to Scottsbluff one day and said, 'There's a job in Fort Collins that you might be interested in.' So I applied for a job at CSU as a publications editor. I didn't know what they meant by 'publication,' but they interviewed and hired me and I had a delightful time."

During his five years at Colorado State University, J.K. picked up a master's in English. He then returned to Boulder and started a 26-year tenure at CU. "I was director of publications and printing [for CU] and editor of the University of Colorado Press, which evolved into the University Press of Colorado Press. That makes me pretty ancient," he laughs.

After decades of deadlines, J.K. found his part-time NCAR job to be a breeze. "It's been very basic--recording items that come in. It's a refreshing thing to me. Maybe I've used it as an escape, but I love it."

Now that he's shelved his last book for NCAR as of 28 April, J.K. has more time to travel and to pursue print-related hobbies. "I collect incunabula; that's printing done from the time that Gutenberg invented movable type, around 1440, on up to the 1500s. As for the Internet, "It fascinates me. It frustrates me. We're so overwhelmed with information I don't know what we're going to do. I wonder what'll happen to books. Are we going to sit there by the streamside and dangle our fishing poles in the water while looking at a TV terminal?" •BH


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