Director of Learning Commons and User Services
Brookens Library, University of Illinois Springfield
MLIS, Dominican University, 2008
Photo by Janelle Gurnsey
Getting Her Hands Dirty
In 2009, Sarah Sagmoen was one of 100 librarians vying for an entry-level position at the University of Illinois Springfield’s Brookens Library. “She was not the first person who jumped out at us on paper,” admits Jane Treadwell, the library’s dean. “However, one member of the search committee kept saying, ‘There’s just something about Sarah—you’ve got to talk with her.’ ”
So Treadwell did, and in 2009 Sagmoen was hired as a visiting instructional services librarian. By the end of her first year, she was also managing the reference desk and public use computers. In her second year, Sagmoen was selected as an instructor for ILEAD U, an Institute of Museum & Library Services–funded leadership development program. She became the liaison to Student Life. She hosted gaming days, poetry slams, and a Haunted Library activity that drew more than 260 students and was voted Student Event of the Year in 2011.
In Sagmoen’s third year, Treadwell realized “the suite of services that Sarah had become responsible for amounted to a job on their own,” she says. The library created a new position, director of Learning Commons and User Services, and after conducting a national search hired the person who inspired the job: Sarah Sagmoen.
“I’m passionate about working with students,” says Sagmoen, who annually officiates during the annual campus SpringFest as a judge in a monumentally muddy tug-of-war. “Some days that means I’m in the classroom teaching information literacy, other days I’m supervising the library’s student book club, and one day a year [that] means I’m standing knee deep in mud.”
Her efforts have helped build community on this former commuter campus, led to increased student government funding, and made the library a go-to place for academic work and much more.