November 21, 2017

Sarah LeMire | Movers & Shakers 2017 – Advocates

Sarah LeMire

CURRENT POSITION

First-Year Experience & Outreach Librarian, Texas A&M University Libraries, College Station

DEGREE

MSI-LIS, University of Michigan, 2012; MA, English, University of Utah, 2009

COAUTHOR

Serving Those Who Served (Libraries Unlimited, 2017) with Kristen J. Mulvihill

HONORS

ALA Emerging Leader, 2015

FAST FACT

LeMire enlisted in the U.S. Army three months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and worked as an army Arabic linguist, 2002–07

FOLLOW

@sarah_lemire (Twitter)

Photo by Patrick Heagney

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Veteran Librarian

As an army veteran returning from Iraq in 2007, Sarah LeMire struggled to balance family responsibilities with her pursuit of a master’s degree in English. A few years later, in library school, she found a support network through the campus veterans office. At meetings with the student veterans group, she met people who understood what it was like to leave a war zone and attend college. “The ability to connect with other members of the veteran community made a difference for me and helped me feel less isolated on campus,” LeMire says.

Her experiences gave LeMire an insider’s perspective that she draws on to connect student veterans with library resources. The resulting work has raised local communities’ awareness of veterans’ issues, says Sean Buckner, digital preservation librarian at Texas A&M University Libraries, where LeMire is the first-year experience and outreach librarian.

LeMire started working with student veterans in 2012 while employed at the University of Utah (UofU) Libraries. Through partnerships with on-campus services for veterans, she tailors outreach, presentations, events, and panels to student vets. At UofU she developed a “Recommended for Veterans” library map to highlight low-traffic, quiet areas where students can sit with their backs to a wall. Many veterans fresh from combat continue to scan the environment for risks, says LeMire. Reducing distractions makes it easier for them to concentrate. At A&M, she initiated the library’s involvement in the campus orientation sessions for veterans and rebooted librarian outreach to military cadets, reaching about 900 students.

Because female veterans outnumber males on campuses but tend to be harder to reach through traditional outreach, says LeMire, she asked women to submit photographs for exhibits and to speak on panels to share their experiences in combat, as well as the challenges they faced in the military and the transition to civilian life. She organized programs at both UofU and A&M to recognize the accomplishments of female veterans.

LeMire plans to continue to spread the word about student veterans and to research their specific needs on campuses. “In the last few years, it seems that more and more libraries are coming to recognize student veterans and service members as a unique patron population,” she says. “I’m hoping that trend continues and that I can be of help to other librarians who are striving to connect with these students.”

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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