Orange Pride: Tom Thorisch
After more than 22 years at OSU-Tulsa, instruction librarian Tom Thorisch is retiring.
He’s been a staple of the OSU-Tulsa Library practically since the campus was founded, promoting information literacy among students and educating thousands of people on new search engines, software and other resources.
Thorisch’s decades-long legacy of helping students and faculty find and navigate the information they need has earned him the Orange Pride Award for Employee Excellence. The award is presented to a member of the OSU-Tulsa staff who demonstrates outstanding customer service skills and efforts above and beyond their normal job duties.
Thorisch first came to Oklahoma for work after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He accepted a librarian job at Central State University – now known as University of Central Oklahoma – and went on to take a job with Tulsa Community College when he and his wife moved to Tulsa in the 90s.
In the year 2000, it was time for a change.
“I have to say I did want a little bit more of a challenge as a librarian, not the same old same old,” Thorisch said. “OSU-Tulsa had just been created and they had an opening, so I thought, ‘well, this might be a good time.’”
Thorisch got the position as an instruction librarian at the newly formed OSU-Tulsa, a role he remained in for the rest of his career.
“I like working with people. I like explaining how libraries work in a way that’s not boring or puzzling.”
Thorisch makes sure students and faculty know how to use and access the resources the library has to offer, whether that be with an entire class or one-on-one.
He’s kept good records of his time here, too. Throughout his double decade career, Thorisch has taught more than 1,200 different instructional events in classes, groups and Zoom sessions, touching the lives of more than 15,000 students.
“Students want to know, ’How do I interact with library databases and search engines and tell a stupid computer to give me good literature that I can use in my assignment?’” Thorisch said. “My mission in life is helping people to get through this with the least amount of frustration, unlike the frustrations I experienced in my first time around at school.”
Ever-Changing Tech Landscape
The past two decades have brought technological innovations to all workplaces. As someone whose job is to educate students and faculty on elements of this new technology, Thorisch has seen it all.
“I started out with computers, and we were concerned about (Microsoft) DOS 3.0 and the upgrade to DOS 5.0 on a blue screen – not a black screen. It was kind of amazing. You know how excited we were to have color on a computer screen?”
Thorisch taught himself through the changes and found an unexpected joy in working with computers.
“I always thought in my earlier life that I didn’t want jobs with computers,” Thorisch said. “But I actually enjoyed working with computers and facilitating to library users how this thing works.”
Nowadays, younger students tend to be fairly tech-savvy. But according to Thorisch, those skills don’t always translate to research skills.
“A lot of students, the young generation, they think, ‘oh we can do this stuff. We're online all day long,’” Thorisch said. “There is a big difference between Googling or doing TikToks or Instagram and communicating with academic search engines.”
The sheer volume of the OSU-Tulsa library’s online resources can be intimidating for students if they don’t know how to navigate it in a way that makes sense for their research.
“We've got over 350 databases and search engines from different vendors, maybe with 25 to 30 different platforms. I can't teach the students all these platforms and the ins and outs,” Thorisch said. “What they need to know are the basic requirements to do a good search. That is information literacy.”
On to the Next Adventure
Looking forward, Thorisch has plenty of golf, baking and projects around the house to keep him occupied. He’s also looking forward to doing some volunteer work.
“The one strange thing is, as much as I liked working with people, I kind of decided I've had it with people,” he jokes. “Once I’m settled, I think I’ll work with animals, like at an animal shelter.”
His last day is Friday, July 29 – but don’t be too sad to see him go. He won’t be a stranger to the friends he’s made on campus.
Thorisch will miss interacting with students on a regular basis, but he does have some words for them he hopes they take to heart.
“The professional departments here are very much interested in your academic success, including the library. Go and ask questions, network, get to know people. They're more than happy to help you. Don’t do this alone.”
To recommend an OSU-Tulsa staff member for the Orange Pride award, complete a nomination form. Orange Pride recipients are selected quarterly and receive a framed certificate and $100.
Media Contact: Aaron Campbell | 918-594-8046 | email@example.com