Member of the Month

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Sarah Northam
Head, Research & Instruction Services, Texas A&M University-Commerce Libraries

Professional experience
I was a rare breed and knew I wanted to be a librarian in elementary school. I worked as a dispatcher and then as an admission counselor while completing my education. I got my MSLS from UNT in 2007, and it has been a roller coaster ride since then. My first week on the job I was fortunate enough to attend a conference. During my early professional life I worked on improving my library instruction skills and the art of the reference interview. I became very interested in instruction assessment and was selected to attend ACRL’s Immersion program. I became the head of my department in 2012 and continue to work to increase our outreach to the wider university community and enhance the services that we offer to our students, faculty, and staff. I also continue to work on my professional development and education. In 2016, I attended TALL Texans, and I will soon complete a MS in History.

Innovative library practices
I love how libraries are really thinking outside the box and looking at how they can best serve their communities.  Our campus installed a multi-media studio for students to create video projects and a laptop kiosk in both our main building and student center.  At other libraries, innovation exists through creating makerspaces or checking out unique items such as bicycles, yoga mats, business clothing, and even socks!  Libraries have always been about providing information to our communities; but now, we are also about providing items and programs that help make our communities stronger. 

Favorite book or literary character 
I know this is where I am supposed to say Jane Austen, Harper Lee, or Charles Dickens, but I can’t!  There are two books that have stuck with me for most of my life, and I still go back and read them regularly.  They are Remember me to Harold Square by Paula Danziger and The Changeover by Margaret Mahy.  I read them around 4th grade. Of the two, The Changeover wins as my favorite.  I recall giggling over the supernatural romance in The Changeover.  What can I say? I was incorrigible. Ultimately, The Changeover was about the power of family and what we would do to ensure the safety of those we love – then, throw in a little spellcasting.  In fact, I think I will reread it this weekend!

Most memorable TLA experience
I have two experiences that stick out in my mind about TLA, both of which helped me realize how right the organization was for me.  The first one was at my first Annual Assembly (in Austin). I was very lonely and about to eat alone at Threadgill’s when several TLA Leaders (who shall remain nameless) kidnapped me and forced me to eat with me.  It was one of the best experiences and really gave me an inside look at the value of the organization.  They really made me feel welcome and included, and most importantly, they made me feel like my contributions and knowledge were important.

The second has been TALL Texans. Participating in TALL is not really about a one-week experience.  Even though that week was life-changing, what came after has been the most impactful.  Those relationships have lasted, and they have been some of the most encouraging and insightful people I ever met.  I love my TALL group – the 2016 class was THE best!  

Created on May 31, 2016 | Last updated February 28, 2018