Sarah Horowitz is the head of Quaker & special collections at Haverford College in PA. Sarah has been a member of ACRL for 17 years and is your ACRL Member of the Week for October 31, 2022.
Describe yourself in three words: Thoughtful, enthusiastic, diligent
What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? I recently finished reading Amy Levy’s The Romance of Shop, a 19th century novel about four sisters who open a photography studio. I have been slowly making my way through Tawanda Mulalu’s Please Make Me Pretty, I Don’t Want To Die: Poems. I learned about Mulalu’s work when he was a plenary speaker at the RBMS conference this past summer, and knew that I wanted to know more of his work. I am one of the organizers of my campus’s faculty/staff reading group; our theme this year is retellings of myths, fairy tales, and familiar novels. We’ll begin with Jennifer Marie Brissett’s Destroyer of Light, an Afro-futurist retelling of the Persephone myth, so that’s next on my list.
Describe ACRL in three words: Academic library umbrella.
What do you value about ACRL? I have been an active member of RBMS since 2008, and really value the professional community I have found there. Having worked for many years at institutions with only a few special collections librarians, it is incredibly important to me to have a larger professional community to participate in. Events such as the RBMS conference and webinars provide valuable opportunities to think strategically about the work we are doing as a professional community, and to learn from others about how they are implementing best practices or introducing changes and new ideas. The people I have met at many of these events have also become people I look to when I need advice or want to talk through a tricky issue I’m encountering.
What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? One of the things that I love about my job is getting to do a wide variety of things. I teach a number of classes across the curriculum, giving students the opportunity to deeply engage with material culture and original primary sources while thinking about questions of audience, accessibility, and authorship. I work with faculty to build collections which will support their teaching needs, as well as the needs of our wider research community. Our exhibit program is mostly curated by students or classes, and I frequently work with student interns and classes on exhibit research, design, and writing. I respond to research questions, work with colleagues on digital projects that help to bring our collections to a wider audience, and think strategically about how the library can best support students, faculty, and staff across campus.
In your own words: We are at a critical time in the special collections field. We have been talking for several years about issues of precarious labor in the profession, about responsibly diversifying our collections and doing reparative description work on the ones we have, about grappling with the ways in which many of our collections are representative of racism and colonialism, and about the ways in which climate change will impact our ability to preserve and care for collections long-term. I appreciate the conversations that RBMS has had around these issues, and hope they continue. These topics are also of great interest to current college students, and often come up in classes. Helping students think through these issues are they grapple with the ways they are or are not represented in our cultural heritage is an important aspect of our role.
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