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Sara Quimby

“We had a series of internships that were really amazing. I worked with the Detroit Opera House, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, at Wayne State with the art librarian, and the Detroit Institute of Arts. That gave me a very solid foundation of what it was like to be on the job as an Art Librarian.”

Sara Quimby, MLIS ’09, is the Library Director at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Here, she manages a small library with 47,000 volumes and 47 databases. Sara deals with more instruction, reference, and face-to-face time with students than your average university library director because of the library's size, but she doesn’t mind. “I like working with students,” she says. “I like working with faculty. For the past year, the instruction librarian and I have been working on an embedded librarianship project where we go into classrooms to be their personal librarian for the semester. We have structured the learning outcomes so by the time students become seniors, they’ll have the information literacy skills that they need. It’s nice because you get to know the students really intimately, and their projects, and watch them grow as students.”

Sara also enjoys the collections side of her position. At IAIA she works with art, history, and literature created by indigenous populations and is constantly brainstorming new ideas of how to make the collections more accessible. For the past year, Sara and her staff have implemented a ‘personal librarian’ program where they match a librarian with a first-semester student to ensure the student understands the resources available to them. This program allows the student to have an individualized schedule with their librarian to assist them in their desired research and work. Because of Covid-19, Sara and her team have had to adjust to creating more online resources for their mostly physical collection, but Sara is finding enjoyment in a new book delivery program they are implementing in order to continue getting books in student hands.

Sara credits some of her versatility to her experience at WSU, where she was part of a special IMLS-funded Fine Arts Librarianship Cohort from 2007 until 2009. Describing her experience, she says, “We had a series of internships that were really amazing. I worked with the Detroit Opera House, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, at Wayne State with the art librarian, and the Detroit Institute of Arts. That gave me a very solid foundation of what it was like to be on the job as an Art Librarian.”

During her various internships, Sara was able to explore the diverse areas in information and librarian studies. At WSU Sara worked on weeding a 16 millimeter film project and she assisted in creating an exhibition for the collection of Jacob Lawrence prints that were on display in WSU’s undergraduate library. Through her internship with the DIA Sara practiced copy cataloguing and weeding projects for their collections and was able to experience the archival side of things during her time with Detroit Opera House where she managed copyright permissions.

Sara also has a Master’s Degree in Art History, and feels that this background allows her to be a bridge between research and art practice in a unique way that assists students in a deeper, more proficient way when they are studying art.

Prior to Sara’s current position, she worked as a reference and instruction librarian at the State University of New York, eventually becoming the information literacy coordinator. Sara’s advice to incoming WSU students, no matter the path they choose in the School of Information Sciences, is to gain experience in instruction. “If you can get any experience doing reference and instruction in any way possible, it is essential because no matter what you do, as a librarian you’re going to teach.”