We are excited to have Josh Harris–previously our Media Assistant–as the newest addition to the full-time staff at HPU Libraries. Josh assumed the Media Supervisor position over the summer and immediately began making improvements to our offerings in Media Services. We asked Josh a few questions so new students can get to know him better. Read on to learn all about him!
Tell us about your background. Where are you from? Where did you go to school?
“I was born and raised in Eastern NC. From a very early age, I became enamored by film; while other kids rode bikes outside or traded baseball cards, I spent my childhood consuming the films of my favorite directors, watching Reservoir Dogs, Clerks, and Goodfellas.
I became obsessed with the process of making movies and after graduating high school I attended Piedmont Community College to study Film/Video Production. I then went on to Western Carolina University where I earned a BA in Film Studies–this was much more a theory-based curriculum. Finally, I attended graduate school at Wake Forest University where I earned an MFA in Documentary Film. While my educational path is somewhat chaotic and winding, I think getting separate educations in film production and film theory, then having these two disciplines come together during grad school has given me a strong viewpoint on the importance of teaching film theory in tandem with film production to make a well-rounded visual storyteller, which is what I consider myself now.”
Where have you worked in the past and why did you decide to work in libraries?
“I have worked many different jobs in vastly different industries over the years. I have been a retail clerk, a DJ, a line cook, a video editor, a plumber, a driver, and an associate film producer, to name a few. The most impactful position (before this one) I held was from 2005-2010 when I was a Specialist in the US Army. During this time in my early 20s, I lived in Hawaii, deployed twice to Iraq, and met some of the most important people in my life. Some may say that I took a long time to reach my potential–and I did–but I also like to think that taking such a winding path gave me the chance to rack up life experiences and enter any situation with a unique perspective.
I had never considered working in a library until I was lucky enough to get a part-time job as Media Assistant while I was in grad school. It was then, way back in 2014, that I saw firsthand how an academic library operates, how librarians are superhuman in their ability to balance research, academic support, and resource management in every conceivable subject, and how much librarians enhance the educational experience of students.
After my honorable discharge from the military I knew that I wanted to devote the rest of my life to making positive change in the world. It wasn’t until I came to HPU that I realized that I could do just that, by supporting and inspiring those that will be the leaders of tomorrow. In this respect (and many others), becoming the Media Librarian at HPU has been a dream come true.”
What is your role at HPU?
“I’m in charge of Media Services, which comprises a wide array of materials and technical support for students, faculty and staff. I manage the film collection, which includes some 10,000 titles in DVD and Blu Ray, as well as many more thousand streaming titles online.
Media Services also provides academic printing services, and with the help of our very talented Media Assistant Chelene Marion, we work with students to make sure that their photography, illustration, and graphic design projects are committed to paper in the highest available quality.
Media Services also offers a wide selection of media equipment, such as cameras, lights, tripods, audio recorders, etc. We do everything we can to make sure that every student has access to the tools they need to tell their own stories.
In addition to these tangible resources, Media Services also offers enrichment events throughout each semester. On Monday nights the HPU Film Society meets in Smith Library, to watch films and discuss them. On Thursday evenings I host an Open VR Lab, which allows students the chance to engage and explore this burgeoning technology. Media Services also offers workshops as well as personal troubleshooting sessions on media software like Adobe Photoshop and Premiere.”
What are your research interests?
“It will come to no surprise that I am deeply invested in veterans’ issues; while at WFU I worked on a short documentary about a group of Vietnam Vets who are dealing with their individual cases of PTSD through group therapy. Anything that has to do with veterans, their families, or international conflict absolutely fascinates me.
I am also very interested in media theory as it relates to 21st century modes of communication–such as internet memes. I think that it is fascinating that through loose intertextuality, a still image (or short gif) and some text, we are able to share sophisticated commentary on world events as they unfold. This memetic way of sharing ideas says quite a lot about the sort of rhetorical landscape that our conversations exist in.
Along with memes I’m very interested in user-generated content, which could be anything from a Reddit post to a YouTube channel. I came up in a time when the Internet was in its infancy, and I observe and appreciate the democratization of the media landscape, in that just about anyone can get their hands on a computer, a camera, or a microphone (a smartphone has all three). We in the 21st century have the ability to connect with anyone on the globe and there are seemingly no limits to how far one’s message can reach. I’m interested in what this paradigm shift has produced and how society responds to this new frontier of media content.”
What’s your favorite thing to read? Watch?
“I have recently read Ready Player One and I can’t recommend this book enough. I’m very much looking forward to the film adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg that is coming out March 2018. Other than that, I typically read George Orwell, Hunter S. Thompson, Marcus Aurelius, Woody Allen, Aldous Huxley, Richard Ayoade, and the wickedly hilarious works of Christopher Moore. My favorite movies include Dr. Strangelove, The Graduate, Heathers, Star Wars, Vertigo, Annie Hall, Reservoir Dogs, Clerks, El Mariachi, Hot Fuzz, The Departed, Down By Law, V for Vendetta, and Submarine (all of which are available for checkout at Smith Library, by the way).
My favorite TV show at the moment is Rick and Morty, but I have loved a ton of shows through the years, like Red Dwarf, The Young Ones, Sanford and Son, The Office (UK and US), Daria, The Simpsons, Kids in the Hall, SNL, In Living Color, Portlandia, Silicon Valley, Community, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Bob’s Burgers, Spaced, Faulty Towers, Futurama, and Wilfred.
Words of wisdom to students?
I wish I had come up with this bit of wisdom for a successful college experience but I didn’t; I found it on Reddit:
1. Sleep more than you study
2. Study more than you party
3. Party as much as you possibly can.”
That’s it for this Librarian Spotlight. Don’t hesitate to visit or contact Josh Harris if you need help with anything media-related: