What our Members Are Saying: Leah Sherman
Name: Leah Sherman
Title: Visual & Performing Arts Librarian
Library, Institution: Florida State University
What are you working on now that you’re proud of?
One project I am working on right now that I am extraordinarily proud of is chairing the new FSU Libraries' Art in the Library initiative. This program will bring the fine arts into our library spaces in a myriad of ways: student art exhibitions, performing arts pop ups, hands-on art activities, lectures and artist talks, and hopefully so much more! This fall we are thrilled to mount our first exhibition of student artwork at Dirac Science Library. The purpose of Art in the Library is not only to visually enrich our physical library spaces, but also to engage the broader campus community at Florida State in the interdisciplinary, creative, and inclusive world of the fine arts.
Tell us about the kind of library you work in. What do you wish other librarians understood about the kind of library you are in? What makes it great? What makes it challenging?
FSU Libraries serves the research and teaching community of Florida State University, a large public R1 institution located in Tallahassee, FL. Within our library system I am the only librarian for the College of Fine Arts, which spans the visual and performing arts (art, art education, art history, dance, interior design, theatre, and museum studies). I am also located in our main library within a department of social sciences and humanities librarians rather than in an arts-specific branch library. I am responsible for all aspects of librarianship as it pertains to the Fine Arts and this presents both opportunities and challenges. Overall, no two days are the same and I am constantly learning new things from my many interactions with researchers working across the Arts - I love that! I can also practice a holistic view of librarianship by having my hands in collections, instruction, and reference for all of my subject areas. What can be difficult, however, is to make those outside of arts librarianship understand that the arts disciplines have very different library needs than the average researcher. That is, working with traditional researchers but also with makers and designers, performers, and professionals in the College of Fine Arts often requires a case-by-case approach for a variety of research products and processes that aren't the classic research paper.