University Administrative Fellowship Spotlight: Annemarie Iker (GS, Art & Archeology)

July 2, 2021

In the GradFUTURES Spotlight series, Princeton graduate students share in their own words about their experiences in one of the GradFUTURES Fellowship programs: the Community College Teaching Fellowship Program, the University Administrative Fellowship Program, or the GradFUTURES Social Impact Fellowship Program. 

Where and when did your Fellowship take place?

I was a University Administrative Fellow in Collection Development at the Princeton University Library in the Spring of 2021. 


I joined the PhD program in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton in 2016, after completing my BA in European Studies at Amherst College and my MA in Art History at Williams College and the Clark Art Institute. At Princeton, I study modern art, with a focus on the art, literature, and culture of turn-of-the-century France and Spain. Since college, I have been an intern at the Clark Art Institute, in Williamstown, and the High Museum of Art, in Atlanta, and was a Mellon-Marron Research Consortium Fellow at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.  

What drew you to the University Administrative Fellowship and this particular Fellowship?

As a graduate student in art history and an intern and fellow at art museums, I spend much of my time in libraries. Yet prior to this year, my experience in libraries had been limited to that of a researcher and writer. Curious about librarianship, I approached James M. Van Wyck, Assistant Dean for Professional Development, to ask if there were learning opportunities at Princeton. He and his colleagues at the Princeton University Library created a position for me through the University Administrative Fellowship program, which pairs graduate students with non-faculty mentors on campus.    

Can you share a bit about the Organization and the projects to which you contributed?

Princeton University Library has many departments, including Scholarly Collections and Research Services; Library Information Technology, Imaging, and Metadata Services; Special Collections; Library Finance and Administration; Office of Research Data and Open Scholarship; Ivy Plus Resource Sharing Initiative; and Research Collections and Preservation Consortium, among many others. My fellowship was in Collection Development, the department responsible for selecting materials to acquire for the library. As I learned, this is a complex process that involves assessing the existing collections, then engaging with its users—in the case of the PUL, students, faculty, staff, and the wider community—to expand these collections to meet users’ present and future needs.

Through conversations with my mentor and with various selectors—librarians who oversee acquisitions for a given discipline or field—I was exposed to the ins and outs of selection, such as how to seek input from library users. Alongside these conversations, I completed an individual project on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at libraries in the Ivy Plus consortium. This project allowed me to explore one of the most pressing questions in academic libraries today—namely, how to create collections and provide services that support the teaching, learning, and research of all community members.    

How did these experiences help you?

Through the fellowship, I gained both a broad overview of work at academic libraries and more specific knowledge about collection development. Thanks to the generosity of PUL librarians in Scholarly Collections and Research Services (and other departments), I came to understand how the collections are continuously evaluated and expanded. In addition, my individual project on DEI initiatives at Ivy Plus libraries exposed me to current developments in library work across the country. Together, the mentorship and project components of my fellowship helped me to explore my own career goals—the most valuable part of the experience.  

Can you share some reflections on the mentorship component of the Fellowship?

My mentor, Patty Gaspari-Bridges, Assistant University Librarian for Collection Development, could not have provided a better introduction to librarianship. Patty met with me weekly to discuss work at the PUL, from the different roles of librarians across divisions to the nuts and bolts of collection development. In addition, Patty connected me with other librarians at the PUL and provided me with access to PUL resources; she also supervised my individual project. In short, Patty was exceptionally generous with her expertise—a model mentor.    

Best advice for Graduate Students considering a Fellowship through GradFUTURES?

I highly recommend participating in the University Administrative Fellowship Program. For me, working as a UAF at the Princeton University Library was a superb way to gain new skills and meet new people while exploring a familiar place—the library—from a new perspective.  


Read more GradFUTURES Fellowship Spotlights here!