Meet Stephanie Noell, Research and Instruction Librarian at Savannah College of Art and Design

by Jennifer Skarbek

Stephanie Noell, a Research and Instruction Librarian at the Savannah College of Art and Design, has a diverse background that ultimately brought her into the academic library world.  With an undergraduate degree in philosophy, background in environmental philosophy and conservation, and 10 years of experience in theater, Stephanie found herself drawn to the Library and Information Science field through her undergraduate job in her university library.

While pursuing her MLIS degree, Stephanie decided to gain experience in multiple aspects of the field, and took courses in a wide range of subjects from cataloging to archives. Through her coursework, she was able to gain experience in the library world through volunteering in a fashion archives and working in a private publisher’s library in Seattle.

Stephanie was able to hone all of the skills and experience she had acquired to land her first official library job working in Reference at the University of Texas at Arlington, where she realized that she likes to focus on the user experience and customer service aspects of library work.  She next made the transition to special collections within the University of Texas at Arlington, and ultimately decided to take a position as an Art Librarian at Mountain View Community College in Dallas.

Following her desire to work with patrons to help them find what they need, Stephanie landed her current position as a Research and Instruction Librarian at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she is enthusiastic about being able to work with faculty and students to help them in their research and creativity.  A main aspect of her job that she truly enjoys is highlighting collections that either group wouldn’t necessarily know is there.  Not only does this allow Stephanie, who works predominantly with their comic book and graphic novel collections, to showcase collections that interest her, but she’s also able to highlight collections that students and faculty may not realize are available for use, or even know that the library holds these collections.

However, she does recognize the challenge and differences in work with faculty and students, which echo some of the challenges many LIS professionals are facing in their respective institutions.  Faculty, while supportive and aware of the library, may not always be aware of the library or librarians’ and how they can truly enhance their courses, and by extension the students’ learning.  Students, while aware that the library has resources to help them succeed, may not feel comfortable making the trip to the library, and even further may not feel comfortable approaching a librarian to ask which resources would be the most helpful.

That’s exactly where Stephanie comes in: Stephanie focuses a large portion of her work to building a rapport with faculty and staff through one-on-one sessions with students to discuss their specific needs, teach a class on information literacy and conducting research with the materials the library has to offer, and bolstering SCAD’s collection development program by bringing materials into the library that students and faculty alike are hoping to utilize in their work.

To even further develop a relationship with the SCAD community, Stephanie tailors an ongoing display of library materials to what would be interesting to the community as a whole.  Most recently, this included professional development resources for students who may be graduating soon and information on various campus events like their upcoming DeFINE Art event where alumni and internationally renowned artists visit for talks on campus related to their work.  Stephanie is able to highlight the related materials in the library’s collections through this display, and show students and faculty alike the wide range of materials that can be found in their collections.

The needs of her patrons are always on Stephanie’s mind, so she spends her time not working with patrons to process the library’s backlog of comics donations, including highlighting writers or characters from traditionally marginalized groups that students would be interesting in seeing, but also may not realize are kept in the library for them to use had they not been brought to the forefront.  By focusing on the materials students would be interested in seeing, Stephanie is able to spark their interest in materials they may not have thought to use before.  As Stephanie puts it, “getting a non-librarian excited about library resources is the best thing ever,” and that philosophy seems to shape the type of work and service she brings to the SCAD community.