Technology has a way of recalibrating careers.
Just ask Nick Rudd, a senior library specialist in the Communications Library, who has seen technology cut both ways in his professional lifetime.
He worked for 17 years at campus-area record stores when the digital music revolution came roaring in, leading to the demise of the destination record store - and forcing Rudd to seek a new line of work.
"I did the (financial) books and I saw it was in trouble," he said of the last store he worked at. "At one point, I was wondering how they were even able to pay me."
By 1999, he found himself looking for something that satisfied him like running a record store had - but he wasn't finding it.
In those days, a good record store was as full of possibility as any library, a place where a knowledgeable clerk could seemingly magically track down a rare vinyl edition for a customer.
It forged a bond between clerk and customer that Rudd later missed.
He had applied for work at the local public library, but it wasn't a full-time position. He also took some classes at Parkland College around this time "to try to figure things out."
And that's when he heard about the U. of I. library clerk's job.
"I've always loved books and organization and categorization," he said, "so I took a chance and applied. I just came in off the street and took a test."
After being asked back for an interview, he was called back the same day and offered the job.
"It was this crossing of events where everything just fell into place," he said.
Rudd's job, clerking for the Information Resource and Retrieval Center, which operated the campus's interlibrary loan service, was finding materials sought through requests from outside the university
He soon realized the job wasn't that much different than the record store gig, and he kept with it for two years before moving over to the "borrowing side" of the center.
"We dealt one-on-one with patrons, which was right up my alley," he said. "That's what I like doing - being of service and ensuring the patron is the top priority. Service is what it's all about."
He stayed at the center until 2010, moving to the communications library, where the materials requests became even more specific.
"It's housed in the college it serves, and because of that we have a good relationship with faculty members," he said. "I deal directly with the public and directly with the students. I get to know a lot of different people. I love being here."
Technology continues to affect Rudd's job, but it's more heavily weighted toward job security this time around.
He said the incredible number of library resources, compounded by an emphasis on interdisciplinary research and the ease of online availability, has him constantly looking for ways to keep up-to-date in the field and provide the best service.
"You've really got to stay on top of those things or they will get away from you," he said. "Some of these people are here for the first time, and you want to make the experience as good and as valuable as it can be."
Rudd's job description recently has expanded to include instruction, with library staff members asked to participate in training sessions designed to help students and faculty members better navigate the ever-growing number of publications, databases and reference materials.
"The library system has become more expansive," he said, with the interlibrary group now including 70 libraries from around the state.
The librarian gives an overview presentation at the start of the year, but library staff members will meet with smaller groups and even individuals by request as the year progresses. Sometimes the training is designed to complement a particular class syllabus.
Rudd said he is most proud of occasionally getting a "thanks" in a student's dissertation or a faculty member's published research.
"It just shows the positive impact that a civil service worker can have," he said.
Rudd never left his first love - music - and he spends a good amount of his free time playing guitar. He's not in the music scene like he was when he was younger and a member of local bands, but he still plays occasionally with friends.
Like his career path, the musical style is decidedly "a bit of everything," with improvisation pointing the way.
He met his wife, Gina, who works at the College of Education, eight years ago, and they live in downtown Urbana with a 13-year-old son from her previous marriage.
He said he loves Urbana because it is modern and hip and "creates a certain energy" with its comfortable coffee spots, unique stores and wide range of food choices.
One of the perks he has found working for the university is the ability to access the vast library resources, not as an employee but as a patron.
"I'm spoiled now," he said. "I use the library all the time."