This story is about two people brought together by a common love for books and a little bit of fate.

Perhaps it’s the feeling of being surrounded by poetry, love stories, and mysterious books. Or maybe it’s the intimacy of hushed voices whispering through the stacks. There is something romantic about libraries.

It was Jan. 20, 2001. Nick Behrman, a sophomore majoring in psychology at the time, had gone to an off-campus social gathering with a friend. “I saw a pretty girl sitting by herself. She seemed friendly, so I sat down beside her and introduced myself,” Nick said.

Her name was Christine Jennison, a junior majoring in economics and history. They sat and talked to each other for about an hour before Christine had to leave. Nick didn’t get her number and figured he would never see her again.

The next morning, Nick went to work at Newman Library. He was a student worker in the circulation and courier service department at the University Libraries at Virginia Tech.

“After arriving, and clocking in to work, I turned the corner and there she was, standing there. The pretty girl from the party the night before, gathering checked-in books from the circulation department to be shelved,” Nick said. Their eyes locked and immediately they recognized each other. But it was not love at second sight.

Nick’s job in Newman was to take books off the shelves to send via courier to other libraries. Christine’s job was to reshelve books that were returned. They began passing each other often while finding and returning books among the stacks.

Nick was curious about Christine, and she was intrigued by him, but “I couldn’t get over the fact that Nick looked a lot like my brother!” Christine said with a laugh. Even though Nick and Christine had never exchanged last names, Nick tracked her down on AOL Instant Messenger and began sending her little messages. They quickly became friends.

A few months later, Christine’s semi-formal event was coming up and she found herself without a date. Christine had told her suitemates in Payne Hall about Nick, and they encouraged her to ask him to the dance. “I worked up the courage to ask him and he said yes!” said Christine.

To get first-date jitters out of the way and ensure the semi-formal wouldn’t be awkward, they decided to meet for ice cream at Deets the week before the dance. They had a fun first date getting to know each other over scoops and sprinkles.  

After the fun semi-formal, they decided to attend the Ring Dance together. It went so well that they started dating after that.

“I adored Nick’s sweet nature, and he was just so nice,” Christine said.

They would share small moments together throughout the day among books with stories like Shakespeare’s "Romeo and Juliet." What they didn’t know at the time was that they were writing a love story of their own.

Christine and Nick took classes in the morning so they could work together in the afternoons. “We worked with a great team in the library and had flexible work schedules that worked around our classes and exams,” said Nick. Christine worked in the library for four years and Nick for three.

“I worked my way up to a supervisor position as a team lead in shelving and then also in quality check after graduating,” Christine said. “This was a great resume builder.”

Christine and Nick graduated in 2003 and married in September of 2006. They now reside in the Richmond area with their family. Christine is an associate vice president for senior strategy and reporting analytics with Citizens Bank, where she does strategy reporting based on initiatives. Nick is a senior human resources information systems analyst at the Virginia Department of Transportation.

They are the parents of two children, Noah (9 years old) and Charlotte (2 years old). Christine and Nick have shared their love of books and libraries with their children. “Our daughter loves anything Disney, and Noah is a big Harry Potter fan,” said the proud parents.

Private philanthropy for the University Libraries helps support many things, including funding student worker positions. For Christine and Nick, “libraries have always felt like home.”  

Written by Elise Monsour Puckett