Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Visual & Performing Arts Librarian
A little bit about Leah’s job:
I am the Visual & Performing Arts Librarian at FSU and I serve as subject liaison to all departments within the College of Fine Arts (Art, Art Education, Art History, Dance, Interior Design, Theatre) as well as the FSU Museum of Fine Arts, Ringling Museum, and the FSU Master Craftsman Studio. I am responsible for all collection development, reference, instruction, and outreach in these areas.
1) What are some things you like about your job or about working in libraries in general?
My favorite part of this job is working with researchers. Every day I get reference questions across all the facets of my liaison areas from researchers of all levels (from the true freshman to Emeritus faculty) and every day I’m learning a little bit right along with them! My expertise is in the Visual Arts, so I’m always especially interested in the projects coming out of Dance and Theatre because there’s where I still have the most to learn. Just this week, for example, I’ve had topics from theater curtain time traditions to the art of 1920s Vogue advertisements to Postwar critical essays on Yves Klein. I can honestly say I learn something new every day, and I find that really inspiring!
2) What’s a project or committee you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?
As a subject liaison I do feel that I am a member of my constituents’ communities, and getting to know them and their work better this year has been a personal project for sure. I make it a point to be out in these departments by holding weekly office hours outside of the library and I’ve been attending various departmental events such as the Art History graduate student symposium, Museum of Fine Arts exhibition openings, and School of Theatre performances. Lately I’ve also been teaching almost every day this fall, visiting with undergrads and graduate students alike to talk about research skills and methodology, mostly. I’ve been doing some more in-depth tutorials lately, too, on image databases like Artstor and other open access image resources. These more formal meetings have been extremely helpful in building relationships between myself, the Library, and my Fine Arts departments. In my experience as a new librarian, instruction is just as valuable a tool for outreach as more traditional outreach programming is!
3) What got you interested in libraries?
While I was doing my Master’s degree in Art History (before my MLIS) I was able to research at MoMA in New York City, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale, and the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. Each institution has amazing collections on early Italian Futurism (the topic of my thesis project) but they all had even more amazing Arts Librarians on staff! As a would-be Art Historian I was floored to meet a group of professionals who spoke my language as a researcher but who also had the most wonderful wealth of content knowledge on my topic and their collections. They were so friendly and helpful – it was an extremely welcoming experience for my first time in an archive!
4) What is one of your favorite things about NMRT?
My favorite thing about NMRT is that it brings together such a diverse group of young professionals. We are so lucky to have a forum to share ideas, ask questions, and form opinions of our own as we growing into the discipline, regardless of what kind of library we work in (or hope to!)
5) Do you have any advice for other new librarians?
I greatly value the mentors I have gained through my work in libraries, and participating in professional groups like NMRT is a fantastic way to meet lots of different kinds of librarians from across the country. Networking is so very important, too, and you never know which connection will lead to the invitation to a committee position, opportunities for training, or even a new job.
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