Interview with Sarah Carter

June 14th 2018
Carter Portrait

Sarah Carter returned to Indiana University in December 2017 as the Art, Architecture, and Design Librarian. In this interview, she discusses her memories of the IU School of Library and Information Science and the extraordinary collections she now manages.

Scott Libson: Hi Carter, thanks for doing this mutual interview. Let's start with where you're from.

Sarah Carter - I’m a native Hoosier, and grew up near Indianpolis.  I’ve been visiting Bloomington since the mid-90’s so I’ve seen a lot of change.  I went to college on the east coast at Smith College, and came back to IU to attend graduate school. After that I worked in college and university libraries in the south until I got the Art, Architecture, and Design Librarian job in December 2017. It’s surprising that I’ve come full circle now!

Libson – Was becoming a subject liaison librarian your intention?

Carter - I started thinking about becoming a librarian in my senior year of college, when I became aware of academic librarianship as a career path.  I was hired to work in the art department’s slide library, where I found the organization of information really compelling. Barbara Polowy and Elisa Lanzi were helpful to me in understanding the educational paths available for becoming a subject liaison librarian. I enjoy connecting researchers to images and visual resources in order to facilitate their work.  

Libson  - Do you have any particular memories of your library career that you’d like to share?

Carter – I reflect fondly on my decision to attend library school at IU, and the great privilege that I had in studying with B.J. Irvine.  I still think about the wisdom that she passed on, which I’ve used in the past 10 years of my career, and plan to continue to take forward in the future at IU Libraries.

Libson  - Can you elaborate on the wisdom she shared?

Carter – B.J. Irvine’s exceptional regard for spaces and library materials really showed what an excellent steward she was of the intellectual collections at IU Libraries.  Her legacy of the handmade artists’ books is really strong at IU.  She made sure that they were cataloged, preserved, and handled with care so that future generations may enjoy them for years to come.  

Libson  - What are you working on now with the artists’ books collection, or are hoping to accomplish in the near future?

Carter – My goals for the artists' books collection are to get better methods for describing the collection and making it more accessible to artists, who often think visually and base their work on the serendipity of browsing for inspiration.  One of my goals is to add imagery of the collection to the search results.  The Library of Congress Headings don’t really describe the complex binding or materials in a consistent way.  The Art Libraries Society of North America has done some work to make better metadata schemas available for these books, so I’d like to take advantage of that.

Libson  – In terms of research or service to the profession, what is on your radar?

Carter – I’ve had two articles accepted for publication in 2018.  Beyond that, my interest lies in access services policies that make it possible to equitably access the information that they need.  I do a fair amount of outreach, which I consider to be a form of instruction.  I’m also interested in student artists and their research methods, and how they think about integrating materials into their studio methods. I’m also excited about IU’s current digital humanities projects.


Contact Info

Wells Library E960
Angela Courtney
Angela Courtney - Head
(812) 855-1891