300: UT librarian discovers love of storytelling

Lauren Zimmer

During her undergraduate years at the University of Florida, Brittany Rhea Deputy wanted to be in Disney parades and on Broadway. But she realized she was too tall to be Tinker Bell, and, once she graduated, she ended her musical theater career. When she got a research job through the University, she fell in love with libraries.

Rhea Deputy started re-reading old archives and databases in her office. She did not feel like it was a profession. Her new career would lead her to rural Alabama and eventually to Texas.    Rhea Deputy is now a communications librarian at UT and works in a corner office at the Perry–Castañeda Library. She wears plaid, long-sleeved shirts to stay warm in the air conditioning. She carries a walkie-talkie, in case someone has a research meltdown, and displays her engagement photos on her desk. Although she organizes books, she said that is only a fraction of her job. She holds one-on-one consultations with graduate students and professors when they work on their research.

She said not all librarians have cats or wear cardigans. Instead, she said librarians have special interests — her specialty is playing piano with her fiancé, who is a composer. 

Rhea Deputy enjoys her job but is frustrated by the large size of UT. She wants to make genuine connections with the patrons. She does not
expect much, but she believes her humor, knowledge and stories will help her students grow. 

When Rhea Deputy is not in the library, she is adjusting to Texas. She likes Austin because she said it reminds her of the diverse communities in Florida. She said Austin is a town full of cowboys and start-up companies. 

“It wasn’t that big of a jump from singing musicals to being a librarian because plays are stories,” Rhea Deputy said. “I went from musical stories to research stories. These are just as important.”