History and Religious Studies Librarian Scott Libson was hired in February 2018 as a team member of the Arts & Humanities division. In this interview, he shares his background in libraries, and why he likes Bloomington so much.
Sarah Carter: So, Scott, where are you from?
Scott Libson - I'm from Vermont. I left in 1999 to go to college in New York, but my parents are still there and I love to visit. Before moving to Bloomington, my family and I were living outside Atlanta, Georgia, where I was attending graduate school.
Carter - What about your origins? Your decision to follow the librarian path?
Libson - When I was in college, I was an archaeology major. So I've always been interested in history. Needing money in college, I looked around for work and figured that a manuscript library was the closest, easy translation [of my interest in history]. I later got a full-time library job and worked closely with subject librarians. Their work just seemed to marry my academic interests and professional training.
Carter - I have a question about the manuscript library work. So what were those manuscripts and what did you do with them?
Libson – I initially had a general assistant job, but during my master's degree, I got to arrange and describe collections. I got to work with some really great material. They discovered a safe one time and let me sort through the contents. There was some cool stuff, like an early map of Philadelphia and a newspaper from the day after Lincoln's assassination. But the really fascinating thing was this handwritten music score. I saw that it was by Kurt Weill and did some research. It ended up being this long lost ballet that, in recent years, has been performed and celebrated.
Carter - So tell me about what kind of projects you're excited about here at IU with your liaison area.
Libson - A few things come to mind. One would be our non-English language collection and the other would be translations of primary sources. Undergrads sometimes have trouble doing research in history courses where primary sources are in non-English sources (e.g. medieval history or Asian history). So I am trying to collect books and e-resources that address that issue. Second, though, I want to make sure we're developing our non-English collections as diligently as we are the English-language material.
Carter - And those would be more for advanced researchers?
Libson - Yes, more for advanced researchers. Faculty and graduate students rely on the best scholarship, regardless of the language. Another area of interest for me is professionalization. As much as the students are interested, I would like to encourage them to be aware of the skills they are developing and the range of options available to them after they finish their PhDs. For many, that will be the professoriate. For others, it might be something else.
Carter - So maybe as a way of wrapping up, we can talk about Bloomington. So you're really completely new to the area. So what's something that's kind of like an early favorite?
Libson - Several things come to mind relatively quickly. One, I just had lunch at Feast, so that's on my mind.
Carter - Oh, I love Feast too!
Libson - Yeah, another thing, though, is IU itself. It's really an extraordinarily beautiful campus. And every time I walk outside, it just blows me away. I also have a two-year-old son, though, and a lot of my feelings have to do with how much he's enjoying the city - right now he's obsessed with Wonderlab. And the playgrounds are also really phenomenal. Finally, I love running on the B-line.