May 10, 2012Vol. 42, Issue 6

Faculty Profile

"Monday Morning You Sure Look Fine"*: Meet Joe Crotts

Who is the man behind the Schnitzel eyeglasses from Germany? If you don’t know him, you certainly have seen him around campus. Joe Crotts, department head of Library Access Services in Meriam Library, makes his creative bent visible.

wild shoes, crazy colorsHe takes great joy in wearing colorful outfits that light up people’s eyes. And the outfits are a sign of much that he values in life and in people: creativity, uniqueness, surprise, positivity, and giving and receiving happiness.

In his office window in the library’s lobby, he has an electric gizmo—shifting neon blue lines. The gizmo is one of a few dozen that he rotates throughout the year, providing something new every week or so to catch the eyes of passersby with something colorful and intriguing.

Crotts grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where it all started in the 10th grade with a pair of red socks. “There was a coach at our high school who would wear red socks on the day of the game,” said Crotts. “I noticed and thought that was cool and went out and bought a few pairs. People said ‘You can’t do that.’ And, of course, I could and I did. You could say things blossomed from there.”

psychedelic shoes of pink and greenCrotts’s look is a form of self-expression that reflects his philosophy and approach to life. He and his wife (Brenda Crotts, supervisor of the Butte County libraries in Paradise and Oroville) share a commitment to finding joy in every day and living life to its fullest. Brenda also sports a colorful look. She, even more than Crotts, he says, is able to always look at the glass half full and to dwell on the present and what is good and beautiful.

“I’m not a slave to conformity in any part of my life. Even my house and yard are colorful,” said Crotts. “We have a monkey puzzle tree, an arbutus, and a Henry Lauder’s walking stick growing in our yard, for example.” The inside of the house is colorful, with bright blue and red floors and walls here and there. Crotts says they own the largest chair in Butte County made out of redwood. “It takes four people to carry it,” said Crotts. “Very comfortable!”

Crotts majored in geography as an undergraduate. Then he went to Louisiana State University for a master’s degree in geography, with a specialty in maps. While he was at LSU, he met Brenda, who was studying library science. She’s the one that introduced the possibility of library science as a career and an extension of his love of maps. He graduated with two master’s degrees, one in geography and one in library science. Right out of school, he worked in the library at Angola Prison in Louisiana, “My only time behind bars—at least so far!”

wild shoes, crazy colorsCrotts started his job in Meriam Library 38 years ago. He applies his positive outlook on life to his managerial role. “I’m not a micro manager,” said Crotts. “I like people to be trained and then to leave them free to do the job in their own way. If someone has a new idea, I say, ‘Let’s give it a try and see how it works. We can always change the approach.’”

Crotts likes to be involved and that translates into years of service to the Academic Senate. He is the parliamentarian of the Academic Senate and a member of and secretary to both the Senate and the executive committee. He is on the University budget committee and serves as its secretary. He also has responsibilities for government documents, including collection development for some of the sciences, geography, and environmental studies in the Meriam Library.

joe and wife in front of caveCrotts and Brenda (at right, in Shasta Caverns) approach life believing it is to be enjoyed. “There certainly is hard work,” said Crotts, “but that can be enjoyed, also.” They are passionate about theatre and have season tickets to both Music Circus and Broadway Sacramento in Sacramento. He estimates they make 25 trips a year just to see theatre.  And every trip includes brunch and walks and shopping. Yes, shopping. Joe is always on the lookout for new and different clothes and glasses frames and shoes. He knows the best places.

Here is his prescription:

  • Do what you like to do.
  • Find people you like to do it with.
  • Go with the flow.
  • Look on the bright side.

And for the hard times:

  • Enjoy the time with the people you love, and then, when they are gone, you will be able to move on.
  • Don’t stew.
  • Deal with it.
  • Don’t look back!

Crotts excels in the art of living. He provides a Pollyanna to all of the Eeyores; he never ceases to bring a smile to the dozens of people with whom he crosses paths every day. ■

—Kathleen McPartland, Public Affairs and Publications

*"Monday Morning You Sure Look Fine" is a line from Fleetwood Mac's "Monday Morning" by Lindsey Buckingham

Joe Crotts’ clothes and accessories are carefully selected from vendors around the world. He shared some of his sources for clothes, shoes, and eyeglass frames for those of you interested in some very artful and edgy designs.