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Photo of Sara DeSantisSara DeSantis ’17

This is part 20 in our weekly summer blog series in which we highlight some of the amazing Furman alumni who have gone on to work in library and information professions. Click here to view all posts in this series.

Today our featured alumni is Sara DeSantis ’17. She graduated from Furman with a bachelor’s degree in political science & philosophy. In 2018 she completed her master’s in library and information science through the University of South Carolina. DeSantis has worked in both academic and public libraries including the Furman University Libraries and Greenville County Library System. Currently, she serves as a reference and research librarian at the University of South Carolina Upstate where she specializes in social media, marketing, and outreach.

What has been your professional path to your current position?

“While at Furman I was an intern for the Library. I also worked as a student worker. I did that my Junior and Senior year. Right after I graduated from Furman I went to get my masters. During that time I also worked at the public library, and I did one year of working in the evenings as a library outreach assistant for Furman – what a year! Right after I finished my MLIS I was offered a job at USC Upstate as a Reference and Research Librarian – I have just passed my one year work anniversary!”

Tell us a little bit about how you chose to work as a library and information professional?

“I went to Furman with the plan to be a biology major and becoming a dentist. I realized I was terrible and chemistry and that this was not the right route for me. I did enjoy research though and have always had a love for researching. I went to the career services center to take a test for what I should do in my life. Librarian was the #1 result and I dismissed it because I thought librarians just told people to “shh…” – well I was wrong! It wasn’t until the summer after my Sophomore year that I really considered this. My dad told me I should reach out to the librarians at Furman and to talk to my advisor. My advisor thought this would be the best career for me because she did see I enjoyed researching. I emailed a few different librarians at Furman and talked to them about what they did. I had no idea librarians got a master’s degree and that academic librarians could be involved in so many areas of campus! I loved this and knew that I would enjoy a job as an academic librarian! I was given the opportunity to intern at the Furman library and to be a student worker. All of the Furman librarians and staff were so helpful and encouraging – I knew that libraries brought together such nice, interesting, and fun people to work with! The irony is that I am now the Chemistry Liaison and I love helping students with these types of research problems, but am so happy I am not the student!”

What is the most interesting library in which you’ve worked?

“The Five Forks Library for the Greenville County Library System. I was part of the first staff to work at this new branch! It was such a great experience because I helped put new books on the shelf, I gave input on how we should run our branch, and I worked with an amazing staff (Miles was there!). This branch was brand new and has amazing technology, like an automated system for returning books. It’s a beautiful building and is the library of the future. I would encourage anyone in the Upstate area to visit the library – it’s like nothing you have seen!”

What is something you have been surprised by during your career?

“What’s surprised me about my career is the different things I can do! While I am a librarian and I do research, I also teach. I teach information literacy to freshman English classes, subject specific literacy skills to upper level chemistry, and even designed and taught a Personal Financial Literacy course that was a 1 credit online course this spring! I also was surprised at how creative I have to be in my role – I get to do social media and other graphic design projects which is amazing. My job is never boring! One day I can be on the desk all day, another day I could be teaching a class or in a committee meeting for the university or designing a digital display graphic to promote a library resource – I love this about my job!”

Is there a particularly fond memory from your time at Furman that you would be willing to share?

“There are so many great memories about Furman and the library that I am so fond of. One is when I took a reading course with Jenny Colvin during May-X. She helped me find my passion for reading for fun again! I used to only read non-fiction books, but since that course I’ve become a huge fan of Romance novels! Another memory I have is the summer when I was an intern – I got to know all of the librarians and staff at the library. I remember being trained on the reference desk with all of the outreach librarians. I remember doing fun projects in archives and digital collections. Having the weekly social events was so fun! I got to know everyone at the library and I felt like this was where I was always meant to be! Everyone at the Furman library has been so influential to me and has been a great mentor! I’ve celebrated so many huge accomplishments with them from graduating Furman, to getting into Library school, to finishing library school, to finally being a librarian!”