Hamel to Lead Primate Center Library

Feb. 27, 2008
by Jordana Lenon

Ray Hamel

A 25-year veteran of the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center is the new head of its library, Center Director Joe Kemnitz announced today.

Raymond Hamel, known to many as one of the New York Times's premiere crossword puzzle constructors and a movie trivia buff, becomes the third director of the Lawrence Jacobsen Library, succeeding Cynthia Robinson and, before her, Larry Jacobsen, who began the library in the 1970s and retired in 2003.

Originally from Nekoosa, Wisconsin, Hamel earned his bachelor of arts in English in 1983 from UW-LaCrosse. He received his masters in library science from UW-Madison in 1985 and, after three years spent working as a student in the Primate Center Library, joined its staff full-time as a special collections librarian.

Working alongside Jacobsen, Hamel was instrumental in helping build the library's Internet resources, notably Primate Info Net and some of its key sites, including Primate-Jobs, Careers in Primatology, Primate-Science and the International Directory of Primatology. Hamel dedicated much of his time and effort to developing the library's premiere collection of audio-visual resources. He also ran the library's reference desk, fielding questions ranging from the ubiquitous "please send me all the information you have on squirrel monkeys" to more arcane types of queries such as "what will human beings look like 1,000,000 years from now?" and "can chimpanzees play poker?"

Upon hearing the news of his colleague's appointment, Larry Jacobsen offered enthusiastic input: "I've always felt that Ray was one of the main strengths of the library, a real backbone. I got a lot of the credit, but he did most of work. He is a wonderful, professional librarian, very bright, very together, and he enjoyed the organizational aspects of working in the library. In addition, he's been a major contributor to the field of primatology. I'm really pleased to see that he is going to be the new director, it's a wonderful choice."

The Primate Center has been very fortunate to have someone of Ray's caliber as part of its dedicated staff, added Kemnitz. "His work has contributed greatly to the success of our library, not only because of his intellectual talents, but also because of his collaborative attitude and dedication to the library's mission," Kemnitz said. "He has emerged as a leader and has earned everyone's support in his new role."

As Director of Library and Information Services, Hamel will oversee library operations including hiring, budgeting, purchasing, space planning and goal setting. He will lead the design team for PIN, and serve as a member of the design team for PrimateLit, an international database for primate literature. He will work closely with senior library staff members Joanne Brown and Matthew Hoffman, as well as with the many students who are the core of daily library operations and customer service.

Hamel has been the media reviews editor for the American Journal of Primatology for the past five years. With Jacobsen and Brown, he co-authored Internet Resources in Primatology, ILAR Journal, 1987. He is also the author of The New York Times Trivia Quiz Book and co-author of Star Trek Crosswords, among several other puzzle books. Hamel worked as a host and writer for WTDY-AM Madison radio's weekly trivia show in the late '80s to early '90s.

An article on Hamel's trivia and crossword writing is due to appear in Madison's Isthmus tomorrow.