Meet the Visual & Performing Arts Librarian

Leah Sherman

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.

Found works of Karl Zerbe

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.

Meet the Government Information Specialist

My name is Priscilla Hunt and I am the Government Information Specialist for Florida State University Libraries. I first became involved with Strozier Library as a student here on campus desperately in need of class materials and resources.  As I became more familiar with the library, I took a student position working at the circulation desk and assisting the Associate Dean of Research & Learning Services, and then later on a staff position where I currently reside. 

As the Government Information Specialist, I handle a wide variety of tasks such as collection development of government resources from local, state, federal, and international levels. Additionally,  I help manage the government information portion of the library website, create physical and digital displays, engage in consultations with the public, and supervise Federal Work Study students. The last of which became the recipient of the 2022 FSU Mores Award

My two most recent projects include participation in  a team effort to create a research guide on gun violence, and FSU’s “The Human Library Project.” It is our goal that the research guide on gun violence will help to facilitate conversation, teaching, and scholarship on controversial social issues such as gun violence as well as serve as a valuable resource for data and key information. Meanwhile, The Human Library Project will include individuals of various backgrounds that make themselves readily available to scholars on campus, as a human “book” to be checked out and interviewed as a means of exploring diversity through open minded conversation. The goal of the Human Library Project is to provide a safe space for our scholars to gain perspective and understanding of individuals with unique experiences and stories, while promoting the library as the hub of the intellectual community. 

To tell you a little more about myself I’d say that I have a passion for helping people, and I like to see people reach their full potential whenever possible. I believe that we all benefit when we take the time to learn from one another and that when one of us succeeds, we all do.  So, should you ever find yourself in Strozier in need of assistance, please feel free to find me and I will do my best to help! 

This blog post was written by Priscilla Hunt, Government Information Specialist at FSU Libraries.

Florida Book Awards Launches 2022 Competition

The Florida Book Awards has announced its 2022 competition for the best Florida literature and established a Jan. 13, 2023, entry deadline.

2021 Florida Book Awards winner

Coordinated by Florida State University Libraries, the Florida Book Awards is the nation’s most comprehensive state book awards program, established in 2006 to recognize and celebrate the best literature by Florida authors and books about Florida published each year.

The Florida Book Awards now includes awards in 11 categories and is introducing a Gold Medal for Poetry Chapbooks within the Poetry category.

Authors must be full-time Florida residents, except in the Florida Nonfiction, Visual Arts and Cooking categories, in which the subject matter must focus on Florida.

Books may be submitted by authors, publishers or members of the public in any of the categories: Cooking, Florida Nonfiction, General Fiction, General Nonfiction, Older Children’s Literature, Poetry, Popular Fiction, Spanish Language, Visual Arts, Young Adult Literature, and Young Children’s Literature. Descriptions of these categories and instructions for submitting nominations are available at floridabookawards.org. All books nominated must have a 2022 copyright date and an ISBN number.

Entries must be received no later than Jan. 13, 2023, but applicants are encouraged to submit their books for competition as soon as possible after their books are published. Winners will be announced the first week of March 2023.

Gerald Ensley Developing Writer Award- Nominations Open

Gerald Ensley

Nominations for the Gerald Ensley Developing Writer Award are also open. This award, established in 2019, aims to recognize a writer who has shown exceptional talent and the potential for continued literary success and significance.

Nominees for the Ensley Award must be Florida residents who have published at least one but no more than two books in any of the Florida Book Awards categories and exhibit demonstrated ability and promise for continued growth. The award is accompanied by a $1,000 prize. Nominations are due by Dec. 31, 2022.

Instructions for nominating a writer are listed at https://www.floridabookawards.org/ensley-award.

The Florida Book Awards involves library, literary and cultural organizations, including the State Library and Archives of Florida, Florida Humanities, Florida Center for the Book, Midtown Reader, and the Word of South festival. Learn more about the Florida Book Awards at https://www.floridabookawards.org/.

This blog post was written by Nikki Morse, FSU Libraries’ Event & Marketing Manager and Director of the Florida Book Awards.

Where Are They Now: Alumni Student Employees

Libraries are one of the top campus employers of students with a yearly average of over 70 student employees in the last five years. As one of the top employers: do we play a role in the success of students while they are employed with us, and does working in the libraries influence their career experiences after graduation? In the Fall of 2021, the Assessment Team at FSU Libraries found ourselves asking these exact questions. So, we embarked on a study to explore this with some of our former libraries’ employees from the past five years. 

After receiving IRB exempt status, we connected with six former employees of the FSU Libraries Assessment Department for this first study cohort. We wanted to know how former-student employees described their work experience at the library. What aspects of library employment did they perceive influenced their current career outcomes? What are ways we could incorporate what we learned to support current part-time employees with more meaningful campus experiences while at FSU? 

Most students in this first cohort were in STEM majors and were hired in data analyst roles.  They collected, prepared, analyzed, and reported on library data, created data visualizations, benchmarked survey results, presented papers and posters at conferences, and helped to coordinate statistical survey data for national and regional organizations.  

Benefits and drawbacks of working on campus & in the Libraries

Alumni employees found working on campus to be convenient—especially since the library was located near their classes. Participants said that they valued working on a beautiful campus, with real-life data, and enjoyed working in the pleasant atmosphere of the library.  Drawbacks or challenges included time management and shifting gears between classes and work duties, and sometimes they found themselves on campus from sun-up to sundown. Some reported cramped office space, while others wished they had gotten comparable pay with that of a corporate internship and found that working a campus job did not prepare them for the fast-paced work environment of deadlines and deliverables they now face in their current jobs. 

Highlights of their FSU experience

Participants of the study shared that they enjoyed learning how to collect, find, share and synthesize data. They found it particularly useful working and visualizing real-world data to solve problems. Often students have trouble relating the information they learn from a textbook to practical applications in the real world. This experience allowed our employees to practically apply the information they learned in a job setting. Another aspect participants cited as enjoyable was the opportunity to meet and connect with other campus partners on different projects. Being able to see how data and libraries could be integral to campus success gave a new perspective to our employees. A final highlight from this study was learning how many of our women participants have excelled in STEM fields post-graduation.  

Key experiences our participants had on campus

  • Building friendships, relationships, and mentorships with colleagues and other members of the FSU Community  
  • Engagement on campus in the LeaderShape Institute and Garnet & Gold Scholars Program 
  • Opportunities for professional development, including submitting and presenting conference proposals and papers  
  • Tutoring peers including student-athletes and at the Reading Writing Center on campus 
  • Participating in internships and experiences abroad at our international campuses 
  • Going to career fairs and speaking with recruiters about potential job opportunities  

Looking into the future & how we can improve the experiences of our part-time employees

Former student employees said that they would have liked to have collaborated more with other library departments and to have learned about other parts of the library. This is especially true for those who switched their career plans and decided to work in libraries after working here. For example, one alum shared that they wished they knew more about Digital Humanities.  They also wanted more opportunities to practice their leadership skills, such as leading meetings and giving presentations. 

Overall, this study was invaluable in helping us better understand the student employee experience and ways we could improve future students’ employment at the libraries. One pillar of the Libraries’ Strategic Plan is “Investing in People” and it’s become a top priority of the organization to continue improving the professional development opportunities for both our full-time and part-time employees. This study has opened the door for others, and we hope to do further studies with the various departments within the libraries that employ student employees. To view the PowerPoint presentation for the New England College Assessment Conference, follow this link.  

If you are a former alum employee and would like to participate in this study, please reach out to Kirsten Kinsley (kkinsley@fsu.edu).

This blog post was written by Kirsten Kinsley, Assessment Librarian at FSU Libraries.

New Entrance and Scholar Support Desk

This summer Strozier received some exciting updates to improve your study experience.  Here are the changes you can expect to find upon your return to campus this fall. 

Once you enter Strozier this fall the changes will be immediately evident. As you are greeted by the security team you will find the old rotational turnstiles are no more. In their place are glass doors that automatically open once you have swiped in with your FSUID. After you breeze through the new and improved turnstiles you will be welcomed by our scholar support team at the brand new Scholar Support desk, which is now located directly across from the turnstiles. 

The new Scholar Support desk offers support for all of your needs during your time in Strozier. Here’s everything the Scholar Support Staff can help you do.

 Book and locate study rooms: Individual Study rooms be checked at the Scholar Support Desk, first come, first serve, unlike group study rooms which can be booked online via this link.

Course Reserves: Faculty can request library-owned or personal materials to be put on Course Reserve for their classes for students to use in the library only. Students, visit this page to learn more about using Course Reserves and search for your course through the Course Reserve Search! Instructors, you can learn more about what Course Reserves are and how to make a request here.

Tech for checkout: Our Scholar Support Desk circulates lots of technology, most for 4-hour loans. This includes laptops and laptop chargers, phone chargers, graphing calculators, and more! You can find what equipment the library has available for checkout  here: or stop by the Scholar Support Desk and ask the team! 

The Tech Desk: Launching this Fall, Tech Desk staff will be able to assist with technology and program troubleshooting; printing; and loaning 3-day equipment, such as cameras, projectors, game consoles, and wireless hotspots. Stop by the tall computer station on the Scholar Support Desk to ask the Tech Desk staff any technology related questions! l

Reference Associates will also be located on the Scholar Support Desk. Reference Associates are staff who can help you with your research project or paper, including how to find the best resources available through FSU Libraries’ databases and website. 

Blog post was written by Ashanti Grace, Student Engagement Assistant Strozier Library.

Digital Book Display: American Stories Through the Ages

July is a month of celebration and remembrance of America’s greatest accomplishments. To commemorate America’s 246th birthday, we have compiled a list of novels and films telling the American stories of success, struggle, and growth as time has passed. We hope to celebrate the diverse American experience throughout history and provide a reflection on the American mosaic.

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Celebrating Pride Month with FSU Libraries

This Pride Month, we’d like to honor the contribution the LGBTQ+ community has made to literature and to FSU Libraries. We had the opportunity to interview Haley McGuyre, a Graduate Assistant with Special Collections, and discuss their experience working on the LGBTQ+ Oral Histories Project at FSU Libraries. The full interview can be found below.

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FSU Libraries Call for Art Exhibition Proposals

Art in the Library is launching its first-ever call for Art Exhibition Proposals to display a student art exhibit at the Dirac Science Library this upcoming Fall 2022 semester. The purpose of the Art in the Library committee is to bring more art into the libraries, and enrich the library environment as an aesthetic and academic space. As part of this initiative, the committee is calling for artists to submit Exhibition Proposals for the upcoming Fall semester.

Are you an artist or group of artists looking to exhibit your work? Interested in sharing your art with the FSU Community? Have a curated exhibit you’re ready to share? Submit an exhibition proposal for the fall semester by July 1, 2022. This semester the Art in Library Committee is accepting proposals to exhibit at the Dirac Science Library, on the main floor in the hallway surrounding the central stairwell and elevators. This space is viewed by hundreds of students, staff, and faculty a day and can accommodate 10-15 hanging works depending on the size. For more information and to submit your exhibition proposal, visit this link

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Digital Book Display: National Pet Month

May is National Pet Month! A time to celebrate our four-legged friends and furry companions! Our digital book display this month features titles that honor pets of all kinds and the wonderful impact they have in our daily lives. With this, we are also celebrating the pets of our library staff! Be sure to check out our digital pet gallery below.

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Reflections on “Tikkun Olam”

By Priscilla Hunt

First proclaimed by President George W. Bush in 2006, May is known for its commemoration of Jewish American Heritage. Since then, presidents have issued a proclamation each year commemorating the month. Read Joe Biden’s 2022 Proclamation here.

As we commemorate this month, I often reflect on my first experiences with Jewish culture and traditions through my education at Florida State University. While pursuing a minor in Religion, I was lucky enough to take a course titled “Jewish Tradition” which provided me an introduction to the history and culture of Judaism. Dr. Kavka soon became one of my favorite professors that semester and while I loved everything I learned, “Tikkun Olam” is one concept that I appreciated the most and has stuck with me through the years.

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