February 17, 2018

Ann Snoeyenbos | Movers & Shakers 2002

Sharing the Power

“It behooves us all to make sure the quality is kept high in the profession as a whole”

When Ann Snoeyenbos was a kid, the small rural grade school she went to had no library, so her mother started a library in the school and began work on her MLS to provide it with a trained librarian. That’s how it happened that Snoeyenbos grew up in libraries. As a student of western European studies, she could have become a professor, but she found that an academic library provided the best of both worlds. As a librarian at New York University (NYU), she could teach, write, and stay immersed in her field while helping other scholars with their quests for knowledge.

An early adopter of technology, Snoeyenbos helped design the screen interface for NYU’s OPACs and worked on the development of CD-ROM networks. Soon she was teaching courses in online research, both at NYU and at the New School for Social Research. She has also offered conference presentations and workshops on European digital projects and the documents of international organizations. On a temporary appointment in Morocco and Tunisia with the U.S. Information Agency, she lectured on resource sharing and information access in developing countries. She enjoys doing team-teaching because she can learn from the faculty while at the same time, under the guise of introducing students to nifty new information resources and databases, she can teach professors to use them as well.


Current position: Associate Curator, Reference Librarian for West European Social Science, New York University

Degree: MLS, Indiana University, 1991; MA, West European Studies, Indiana University, 1991

Active in: ALA New Members Round Table, Council for European Studies, European Community Studies Association; marathons and triathlons

A past president of the American Library Association’s (ALA) New Members Round Table (NMRT), Snoeyenbos has become well known in national library circles and is frequently enlisted to serve on high-level committees. Phyllis Schontz, a colleague on NMRT, says Snoeyenbos is a “great representative and voice for newer librarians.” Service to the profession takes a lot of time, but Snoeyenbos says that every time she passes on things she learned at conferences to colleagues in her own library, she figures she’s cashed in her investment. But she also feels it’s important for librarians to think beyond the day-to-day job to the profession itself. To Snoeyenbos, association work is a way of cultivating a broader perspective and building professional cohesion across the arbitrary divisions of job types–cataloger/reference/management–and library types.

Snoeyenbos is a strong proponent of mentoring and not solely because she enjoys sharing what she knows. She also sees it as good for the profession, because “the person you mentor today could be your colleague or your boss tomorrow. It behooves us all to make sure the quality is kept high in the profession as a whole.”

In her spare time, Snoeyenbos is a marathoner and triathlete. She was out running along the Hudson on the morning of September 11 and saw the planes hit the towers; meanwhile, her colleagues at NYU’s Library had been watching through the picture windows. It has been difficult for everyone to deal with, but Snoeyenbos and her colleagues have been very supportive of each other and of the students in their research classes. She has noticed that regular library users seem to find the librarians’ reliable presence comforting, perhaps as a much-needed proof of normalcy and routine.

That’s fine with her. It’s just one more kind of service. Snoeyenbos believes librarians have a lot to teach the world, not so much because we know all the answers but because we know how to go about finding them. It’s a principle she applies in her life as well as her work; as she told an interviewer for New York Sportsgirl, “It is satisfying to see proof that I really am learning as I go. There’s a reason most of the competition at ultradistance races is in the 40+ age groups. It’s called wisdom.”