Recent Alum Tries Out Lobstering Before Library School


Roberto Flores '12 lobstering

Lobstering on the 'Buckeye'

Although Roberto Flores ’12 aspires to be a librarian and plans on attending graduate school in library science next year, at the moment he’s spending his days hauling lobster traps, painting buoys, and preparing bait.

Flores is working as a sternman for Bruce King, a lobsterman from Vinalhaven, Maine. The alumnus started his job on King’s 30-foot boat, Buckeye, after graduating in May, and he plans to keep working for King through mid-December.

“The experience has been really great — just knowing I’m doing something I’ll never be doing again,” Flores said recently. “My dad is really jealous. This won’t be possible later on in life.” His dad works in San Antonio, Texas, where Flores grew up.

On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, Flores wakes up before 5 a.m., drives down to the wharf in Quahog Bay, Harpswell, puts on his foul weather gear, and baits up the boat with whatever’s available, such as mackerel or herring. Then he, King, and a third sternman steam out to sea. For the next 10 hours, Flores picks through traps, collects the lobsters inside — throwing out the ones that are too little — and sets the traps back into the water with fresh bait.

Roberto Flores '12

Roberto Flores '12

These days, early in the season, they’re amassing roughly 350 lbs. of lobster a day from King’s 800 traps, a load that’ll likely increase deeper into the season.

Flores first learned of the sternman job from a post in the student digest in early April. “I had been rejected from a bunch of jobs during spring break,” he said, with a rueful smile. “I saw that and thought, why not?” He met with King, and they hit it off.

For his part, King says he likes hiring Bowdoin students because they make for good conversationalists during long days at sea, according to his friend Peter Slovenski, Bowdoin’s head track and cross-country coach.

Flores says he wanted to take a year off between Bowdoin and graduate school, and will apply to graduate programs this fall to study digital libraries. An English major and Africana studies minor, he says he became fascinated with libraries after getting a job in Bowdoin’s Hawthorne-Longfellow Library, where he worked for three and a half years. “I really fell in love with it,” he said. “It was kind of unexpected, kind of like this.”


  1. Tricia Welsch says:

    Who would have thought that RF would be a Maine lobsterman? He was the best Interlibrary Loan student assistant ever–a born researcher and so easy to work with. Stay dry, Roberto!

  2. Byron Whitney says:

    Great to see that the library is still inspiring students to make a career in libraries. I too had the good fortune to work there in the 60`s before going on to library school. I envy the year lobstering. There might be some parallels between lobstering and collection development.

  3. Gisele Lucia says:

    Good luck Robert!!

  4. Dianne Gutscher says:

    They did when I worked in the Library (1973-2003) and I’m sure they still do – or, at least, that’s what my friends in the Library still tell me.

  5. Anne Haas says:

    Good for you, Roberto! My son was a sternman for 15 years…now has an MA in Spanish, but misses the boat and the work. It’s a great life lesson, hard work, early hours. Best of luck to you…Anne, from the art library.

  6. gregory stowe says:

    Robert, you were always great to work with, a born librarian and lobsterman (that part I never knew). This is something – you’ll never forget it. Good for you. You will know more than many how the world works. And, the ocean and physical labor must be something.

  7. alida snow says:

    What a great experience, and so different from working in interlibrary loan! Quite a change from San Antonio as well. I hope it all goes well–the lobstering, the library school applications, and beyond! I will miss seeing you at H/L.

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