Get to Know Jeffrey Hutson

Jeffrey Hutson, Associate Director

Jeffrey received a master’s degree in library and information studies from Simmons College in 1999, where he graduated with honors. He also holds a master’s in theology and a bachelor’s in education, from St. John’s University School of Theology and St. John’s University, respectively.

Prior to arriving at UB, Hutson worked as a religious studies librarian at the Catholic University of America’s Mullen Library, and as a public services librarian at St. John’s before that.

As Jeffrey is sharing his collection of postcards in the display case located on the first floor of Langsdale, we asked Jeffrey to tell us a little about his collection:

For many years I’d been interested in postcards and would pick them up here and there. Then for a few years I managed a small library gift shop which afforded me the opportunity to go yearly to gift fairs in New York and/or San Francisco where I’d notice these free modern advertising postcard racks in restaurants and bookstores and movie theaters. So I’d make it a point to grab one of each of the cards. My collecting really took off when I was living in Boston while working on my library degree; the postcard racks were all over Boston and I had a list of venues where they were placed, so when I needed a break from studying, I’d go around and pick up cards on a monthly basis. With the help of friends who live in large cities, I’ve been able to add to the collection and over the years I’ve acquired about six thousand cards. My most recent acquisition (picked up at the American Library Association meeting in June) is a set of seven postcards promoting the services of a company named Backstage Library Works.

Basically, the postcards I collect are modern advertising postcards. The concept for advertisers is that it puts something in the hands of the consumer in a positive way. The consumer could then mail it to someone and in the process a number of people might interact with that one advertisement. These are the same ads as in magazines, but they don’t stay hidden. And they’re very clever with hugely successful ads for all kinds of things, including the postcards. Some of the most successful ad campaigns with these postcards: Absolut Vodka, Volkswagen, Levi’s, Got Milk: Where’s Your Mustache?, Altoids, American Express–just to name a few.

Ads are about ideas. Ads are about creativity. Ads are about the power of words or the power of a picture. Ads are about Truth. Ads are about storytelling. What makes modern advertising postcards (and advertisements in general) so fascinating is they engage the viewer–how do I feel about a certain thing or issue? Advertisements confront me with me. Sure, they come with a point of view, but it’s up to me to figure that out and engage in dialogue so that ultimately I’m better informed about some thing or some issue. The next time an ad catches your eye, take a moment to think about what it’s saying to you, about you, about your life.

We asked Jeffrey some questions about himself, here are his responses:

Q: What was the first book you remember reading?

I’ve always loved reading, and as a pre-schooler I couldn’t wait to go to storybook hour each week at our local public library. Once I started elementary school, the book I remember reading, re-reading and being most fascinated with is the first book of The Encyclopedia Brown series: Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective. Interestingly, this series continues to be published up to the present (in addition to many spin-offs) with the publication of a 50th anniversary commemorative book.

Q: What is one of your favorite quotes?

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Q: If you could paint a picture of any scenery you’ve seen before, what would you paint?

Sunrise at Jebel Musa. I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Sinai peninsula in Egypt a few times and in each instance have climbed to the top of Jebel Musa one of the highest mountain peaks (about 7500 ft) in the country. Watching the sun rise from the mountaintop is an almost indescribable experience effecting all the senses.

Q: What was your favorite food when you were a child?

One of my aunts had a green Mustang convertible and she would take my siblings and me to the local A & W drive-in during the summers where I could indulge in my favorite drink: the root beer float. Obviously, this was seasonal, so while waiting for the next summer to roll around I’d often pester my mother to make one of my favorite foods–homemade pizza.

Q: What was your best and/or worst experience in a library?

One of my earliest and best experiences of a library was the weekly visits to the Sparta (WI) Free Library, a Carnegie Library. I was completely fascinated by everything, from the grand stairway of the library entrance to the date due stamp that fit on the end of the librarian’s pencil. And then the rows and rows of books where one could get lost, feel completely surrounded by generations of knowledge and (quietly) play hide and seek! That fascination has stayed with me, so that whenever I travel I try to visit a local library to reflect on what it’s like to visit a library for the first time.

Q: Who was president of the United State of America when you were born?

OK, you may have to play the part of Encyclopedia Brown here and do some detective work, prior to becoming President of the United States, this man served as president of Columbia University.

Q: If I did not work in a library, I would …

Be a philanthropist

Here are some of Jeffrey’s book recommendations:

Bouman, Stephen P, and Ralston H. Deffenbaugh. They Are Us: Lutherans and Immigration. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2009

Carter, Jimmy. Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis. New York: Simon & Schuster, 20

Friedman, Thomas L. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.

Guest, Judith. Ordinary People. New York: Viking Press, 1976.

Hassler, Jon. Good People from an Author’s Life. Chicago: Loyola Press, 2001.

Hill, Clint, and Lisa McCubbin. Mrs. Kennedy and Me. New York: Gallery Books, 2012.

Knowles, John. A Separate Peace: A Novel. New York: Macmillan, 1960.

Kübler-Ross, Elisabeth. On Death and Dying. New York: Macmillan, 1969.

McCarthy, Colman. I’d Rather Teach Peace. Maryknoll, N.Y: Orbis Books, 2002.

Nouwen, Henri J. M. The Road to Daybreak. New York: Doubleday, 1988.

O’Connell, Jack, and Vernon Loeb. King’s Counsel: A Memoir of War, Espionage, and Diplomacy in the Middle East. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2011.

Pirsig, Robert M. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values. New York: Morrow, 1974.

Powers, J F. Morte D’urban. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday, 1962.

Said, Edward W. Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World. New York: Vintage Books, 1997.

Smith, Sally B. Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch. New York: Random House, 2012.

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books, 2011.

Updike, John, and Katrina Kenison. The Best American Short Stories of the Century. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999.

Vanier, Jean. Becoming Human. New York: Paulist Press, 1998.

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple: A Novel. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982.

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