Our subject specialists are responsible for choosing the material in their region of expertise, which is then cataloged and made accessible to the public. This material is not limited to books, however. Subject specialists buy manuscripts, artwork, postcards, movie posters, ephemera, maps, photographs – any material that might be useful for research. Yet their roles reach farther than just selecting materials. They often teach – like Evyn Kropf, who leads a course in bibliographic resources in Middle Eastern Studies, or Barbara Alvarez, who teaches open sessions on publishing in the humanities. They regularly assist students, faculty, and researchers with their projects, theses, or research questions, leading them to the right resources or even collaborating on their work.
A great deal of travel is also common among subject specialists in order to obtain materials and network with other librarians, going to places like India, Thailand, Chile, and Russia, sometimes multiple times in a year. The impact of their work encompasses a number of areas – such as long-term collection building, which involves constantly thinking about who might need certain materials in the future, the short-term impact of working and liaising with faculty members, and in addition to that, shepherding scholarly communication to help produce research that could possibly become the basis of someone else’s research. The role of the subject specialist is dynamic and multi-faceted – always shifting their performance to best suit people’s research needs.