By Ron Graham

In his short tenure, Buss has been busy expanding the library’s offerings of manga and graphic novels.

Originally from Illinois, Tristan Buss moved to Gunnison to pursue a degree at Western Colorado University in 2016. The thousand mile journey may be unthinkable to some but, like many, Buss was drawn to Western by the landscape and culture of the valley. The scenic atmosphere and personable citizens make him proud to now be a Colorado resident.

“I remember coming out here with [my parents] for the first time back in 2006 and falling in love with the place. They always told me they wanted to retire out here eventually so, when the time came to choose a college, I narrowed my search to campuses in the Western Slope,” says Buss. 

“Though my interest in Western started with my desire to help my parents fulfill their dream, I quickly found my own personal reasons to go in the form of Western’s excellent History and Theatre Departments.”

While at Western, Buss pursued a degree in history with minors in theatre and anthropology. He also participated in the Honors Program, Mountaineer Media and Western Theatre Company where he served as student artistic director for his last two years. Buss added that he greatly valued Western’s sense of community among professors and students.

“I think the greatest resource I had as a student was the sense of community and camaraderie I was able to find not only with my fellow students but with my professors as well. Guidance counselors in high school used to say, ‘At college, the professors don’t care enough about you to even learn your name, so get used to it.’ The faculty and staff at Western are the antithesis to that statement. Not only is that not the case here, it’s debatably the lifeblood of the Western experience,” Buss said.

In 2020, Buss expected to have a normal graduation experience. Instead, the pandemic cut his time at Western short when students were urged to leave campus and courses were moved online.

Now, Buss is back at Western working as the interlibrary loan and night manager of the Leslie J. Savage Library.

“It all kind of happened by a stroke of luck. I was in town working odd jobs and basically just waiting out the pandemic before moving on for my Master’s when I saw the opening for the position. I thought it would be cool to get to put my degree to good use in the valley. I decided to apply for it on a whim one day and, sure enough, I got the job,” says Buss.

“Graduating at the start of the pandemic meant that I didn’t really get any sense of closure to my college experience, so when I got hired, it was like returning home after a long trip.”

Buss adds that one of the best parts of his new gig is working with his library coworkers, and with students. “I think the most surprising aspect of my work here has been how little it actually feels like ‘work.’ The staff here are all an absolute blast to work with. I also have been able to find and discover new and interesting ways of expressing myself and my interests while simultaneously helping others that are in similar boats I was in as a student.”

Though he has had this position for less than a year, Buss is already modernizing the library’s catalog. Before his tenure, the Leslie J. Savage Library had access to a few manga options thanks to the Libby app.

But Buss is looking to create a physical collection starting with titles like “Demon Slayer”—one of the most popular anime adaptations of recent years.

“I am especially proud of the fact that we have been able to expand our collection of manga and graphic novels recently at my suggestion. I never thought in a million years that I would be able to bring my anime-related interests into the workplace,” he says.