Staff Stories: An Interview with Odessa Anderson
Anna Weir is one of the more recent additions to the press: Publicist, book hoarder, and needlework enthusiast. For the Press’ 75th anniversary—and out of her own curiosity—she is interviewing her more experienced co-workers to put a familiar face on one of the largest university presses in the country.
Odessa Anderson has spent her career working with numbers and customer service. In her spare time she loves to do needlework.
After this interview, Odessa and Anna bonded over blackwork and counted cross stitch.
Anna Weir: What’s your current job at UNP, and how long have you held it?
Odessa Anderson: Well. I’ve been here for twelve years, and I do a little bit of everything. I take care of human resources, I handle royalties, I put our various contracts into the computer and I make sure everyone gets paid. Which is a giant, giant task. I also work in journals, fulfilling subscriptions.
AW: Wow. It sounds like you have your fingers in a lot of different pies.
OA: I do.
AW: Have you held other positions with the press?
OA: No, not really. The job description has changed, but the position hasn’t.
AW: Cool. What first brought you to the press?
OA: Honestly? An employment agency. UNP was hiring, so they sent me here.
AW: Did you ever imagine yourself involved with publishing?
OA: No, never.
AW: Can you describe your most memorable moment at the press?
OA: Oh… there are so many odds and ends that come to mind… How about—right before Christmas, I got to tell several temporary workers that they could move up to a permanent position. That sure made them happy.
AW: I’ll bet!
OA: Oh! Another time, in journals, an older man called about this one issue in Gettysburg Magazine that published this letter—I think it was his grandfather who wrote it—a relative who’d actually fought in the Battle of Gettysburg. And when I found that issue, and I sent him the letter—he was so happy, I’m pretty sure he was crying.
AW: That. Is amazing.
OA: It really was.
AW: Okay. A lot of my questions here concern things like What book have you most enjoyed working on? And What’s the most memorable interaction you’ve had with a reader or author? But in your case—
OA: I really don’t work with authors, or books, or journals too closely. I work with them after the fact.
AW: Right. So, I suppose we’ll just leave it with this last question—really more of a statement—and it’s intentionally open-ended to reflect whatever you’d like about your career here at UNP and how it’s changed.
OA: Okay, go.
AW: Finish this sentence: Remember when…
OA: Hmm… Remember when we were getting ready to move into this building, and we had very temporary workstations at our old building? I mean very minimal. Card tables with a computer on top. That was it.