I have been a librarian at the Kresge Library at the Ross School of Business since 2005. Almost everyday, I take a break and get away from my computer and enjoy a walk on campus. These walks give me time to think, time to reset, and maybe most importantly, time to feed the squirrels. This is the part, more than anything, than connects me with hundreds of thousands of people who have been members of the campus community for almost 200 years. Through historic postcards, I discovered that people have been referring to squirrels as the campus pets for over 100 years. As for my tradition, I have been doing that since around 2008.
A typical day with my squirrel friends involves bringing two items. One, a blue lunch bag filled with peanuts, and two, my camera. In many ways, they do just fine without the peanuts. There are plenty of acorns across campus, and I have seen squirrels eat all sorts of student discarded food including pop tarts, pizza, cookies, apples and even a churro. The peanuts maybe are just a treat for them, but it is fun for me. I have gotten really good at tossing peanuts towards the squirrels, even with my left hand (I am right handed). They always seem appreciative. On occasion, they run towards the peanut and I have been known to accidentally hit one with a peanut. I am sure they would be scored an error on the fielder’s part!
And maybe the best part of feeding them is that they come right up to you. Years of close quarters with students and others on campus have made squirrels very friendly and not timid at all. In many instances, I have been close enough to touch them, but I never do. However, a number of times in the winter, I have had a squirrel climb my leg. Not sure where he was going – but typically, they will go to my knee, then jumped off and ran away. It was the craziest feeling. When they get close, you can take the very best squirrel pictures (which I have plenty on flickr).
My favorite places for squirrels on campus include the Law Quad, the area between the President’s House and Hatcher Library, the Diag, near Martha Cook Hall, and in front of Angell Hall (on State Street). And while these are where I typically find my squirrel friends, they are just about everywhere on campus.
Since 2008, I have taken a lot of pictures of squirrels on campus. At present, I have over 19,000 squirrel pictures on flickr and more are being added each week . It has certainly made me the most famous squirrel paparazzi on campus. And when I had to get a new license plate for green Subaru, I opted for one that says SQURRL. With this new found fame, I have found that I respond to my nickname: Squirrelman.
So when I started at Michigan in 2005, I wanted to be known as a great librarian. I think my colleagues at Ross would say I do a good job at Kresge. But if I had a reason for fame on campus, it is more for my squirrel photography. So when you see someone taking pictures of squirrels on campus, that guy might be able to help with your information needs also!
– Story and photos submitted by Corey Seeman, Director, Library Services, Ross School of Business