Meet Sarah Christensen, Visual Resources & Outreach Specialist

This latest installment in our series of interviews with Scholarly Commons experts and affiliates features Sarah Christensen, Visual Resources & Outreach Specialist.


What is your background education and work experience?

I have an B.A. in Art History and an MLIS. I saw myself working in art galleries and museums after getting my undergraduate degree, but was having a hard time finding the traction to turn that into a fulfilling career. After several years of various office and food service jobs I went back to school to study Library and Information Science. While I was there I found a job in the Visual Resources Department at Wellesley College, where I digitized and cataloged images for the art history faculty. That experience led me to the College of Fine and Applied Arts at the U of I, where I was the Visual Resources Curator, and then to the University Library, where I am now.

What led you to this field?

My mom had suggested for years that I become a librarian, though I was initially dismissive. When I finally looked into I realized that the scope of the field was much larger than I had thought, and that there were a lot of different directions I could go with it.

What is your research agenda, if you have one?

I don’t have a formal research agenda, but I’m interested in the intersection between design and visual literacy.

Do you have any favorite work-related duties?

I’ve been enjoying planning outreach activities such as the Edible Book Festival and the Human Library.

What are some of your favorite underutilized resources that you would recommend to researchers?

ARTstor is always a favorite of mine, as there are millions of images to peruse as well as some built-in tools that help to incorporate them into teaching or research.  I also really like Material ConneXion, since I think it’s fascinating how things are made and I like to think about potential uses for the various materials.

If you could recommend only one book to beginning researchers in your field, what would you recommend?

Visual Practices Across the University, edited by James Elkins. It made me reframe the way I thought about images in scholarship, coming from a primarily art focused background and then being introduced to other contexts such as food science and mathematics.

Interested in contacting Sarah? You can email her, or set up a consultation request through the Scholarly Commons website.

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