Bright Young Librarians: Elizabeth Call
I am the special collections outreach librarian for Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation (RBSCP), River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester. In this position I lead the public facing activities of RBSCP, and as such work closely and collaborate with my colleagues in RBSCP and throughout the libraries in planning and coordinating teaching, exhibits, public programming, and social media.
How did you get started in rare books?
With zero direction! While I did do a rare books and special collections librarianship concentration at library school, I started my career at a business library. Quickly realizing that was not for me, I went to work at a public library where I was an young adult librarian. It was in this role where I discovered my passion for outreach. However the job had a very long, unsustainable commute -- I lived at one end of Brooklyn and the job was on the other side of Queens. So when I saw a job posting for a reference librarian at the Brooklyn Historical Society I jumped on it -- that was the beginning.
Where did you earn your MLS/advanced degree? (If not answered in previous question)
I received my MSLIS at the Manhattan campus of the Palmer School of Library Information & Science School, Long Island University and my MA in Public History & Archives from New York University.
Favorite rare book / ephemera that you've handled?
This response is dated even as I am typing it since every special collection I look at changes the way I view the world in some way. Recently my day was made when preparing for a class next week that will be looking at various materials we have on reproductive history. One item I will be pulling for the students to work with is a journal called the Journal of Contraception. We have issues from 1936 and 1937.
What do you personally collect?
I do not have the attention span (or money) to be a true collector, as I fall in love with most things I see.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love spending time with my husband, Jesse, and our two daughters, Sadie and Beatrice. I also love to run, spin, take bootcamp-type group fitness classes, go to diners, go to estate sales, and now with my purchase of an old home, outfitting and caring for a home built in 1908.
What excites you about rare book librarianship?
The ample opportunities and ever-evolving ways to make connections between many audiences and the collections. My passion lies in getting the books and manuscript boxes off the shelves and from behind exhibit cases into people's ungloved (albeit clean) hands.
Thoughts on the future of special collections / rare book librarianship?
Special Collections will continue moving away from the dusty treasure room from days of old to centers of innovation, inclusivity, and functional use. Even in the 13 or so years since I started in special collections librarianship the profession seems to have opened up in so many exciting ways, and will only continue to do so.
Any unusual or interesting collection at your library you'd like to draw our attention to?
Probably the hardest question of the bunch! There are so many great collections.
From the papers and library from the founder of American anthropology, Henry Lewis Morgan, to the political papers of Mary Anne Krupsak, back to the Isaac and Amy Post papers, the creators of the Spiritualist movement, to one of the largest personal collections of Henry David Thoreau, like the city of Rochester itself, the collections here go deep and document the rich and problematic history of the United States.
Any upcoming exhibitions at your library?
YES! 2018 marks the 200th Anniversary of Frederick Douglass' birth. Opening on his celebrated birthday, February 14, 2018 and running through October 6, 2018, Rochester's Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass's World: Understanding the Man and His Legacy, showcases many aspects of Douglass's life and legacy as reflected through archival material including letters, published materials, maps, photographs, newspapers, and ephemera. This exhibit is part of the year-long celebration of Frederick Douglass in the city of Rochester.
[Photo submitted by Liz Call]