As the Visual & Performing Arts Librarian at Florida State University something I say often is that no two days are ever the same. And how could they be? I am the liaison to all six departments within the FSU College of Fine Arts (Art, Art Education, Art History, Dance, Interior Design, Theatre) as well as the FSU Master Craftsman Studio, the FSU Museum of Fine Arts in Tallahassee, and the Ringling Museum in Sarasota. For these programs, I am responsible for all things arts-related such as collection development and management, library instruction, and reference. In this work, I’m always learning something new, and that’s one thing I really love about my job!
While my academic background lies in Art History, I am constantly inspired by the variety of arts topics I see throughout each semester. In the same week, I can go from acquiring forthcoming publications in medieval art history to working one-on-one with Dance majors researching the evolution of breakdancing. I might also be collaborating with our Special Collections & Archives Division to purchase rare materials like artist books and illuminated manuscript facsimiles, or even consulting on a digital scholarship project like the creation of the Open Access arts journal, Athanor.
Probably the biggest project I’ve been working on lately is the formation of FSU Libraries’ Art in the Library program. This new initiative is all about bringing the visual and performing arts into the library for the benefit of the entire Florida State community. We are a student-centered program that aims to highlight the work of artists across our campus, regardless of their major or professional aspirations.
Over time, Art in the Library programming will include student art exhibitions, pop-up performances, hands-on art-making experiences, and hopefully so much more! One project we recently finished was the reinstallation of Karl Zerbe prints on the 2nd floor of Strozier Library. Also, starting this month you can catch our first student art exhibition People I Know by Art Education graduate student William Rowe at Dirac Science Library.
If you are an artist interested in exhibiting with FSU Libraries: applications for the spring 2023 semester are being accepted now through September 30, and all the information about our exhibition program and future deadlines can be found on our website.
Finally, when I’m not working with the Fine Arts community at FSU, I am active in several professional organizations. The Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) and its Southeast Chapter (ARLIS/SE) are two groups that have been very influential in my development as an arts librarian. These organizations have given me amazing opportunities to advance my scholarship through conference presentations and publications, grow my leadership skills by serving on committees and in executive roles, and connect with colleagues and mentors from around the world. Besides my work in the physical library, I have personally found that my ability to contribute to and shape my field of arts librarianship through such professional service is extremely rewarding.
This blog post was written by Leah Sherman, Visual & Performing Arts Librarian at FSU Libraries.