Sarah Burke Cahalan

Outreach, Special Collections, Digital Projects


Marian Library, University of Dayton

Dayton, OH, February 2016-current

Director: Reporting to the Dean of the Libraries, the Director manages the Marian Library, the world’s largest collection of printed materials on the Virgin Mary, including important rare and archival holdings. The Director oversees operations and services, including collection development, reference, outreach, preservation, and access. The Marian Library plays a key role in the intellectual and spiritual life of the University of Dayton, a Marianist institution founded in 1850. The Marian Library also serves the scholars of the International Marian Research Institute, which grants theological degrees in partnership with the Pontifical Faculty of Theology of the Marianum in Rome.

The Marian Library contributes to life on campus by providing opportunities to learn skills of interrogation and contemplation. Unique collections include printed books dating back to the fifteenth century; over 100,000 prayer cards and pamphlets; and an extensive collection of artwork, rosaries, medals, and music. The library is dedicated to providing online access to as much of this material as possible, with an understanding of its value both to scholars and to the general population. Outreach efforts include digital initiatives, exhibits, and social media, as well as creating opportunities to collaborate with faculty and students at UD.

Loudoun County Public Library

Purcellville, VA, April 2015-December 2015

Librarian: In addition to supervising five employees and routinely serving as “person-in-charge,” I developed community partnerships and worked on multiple committees in the LCPL system. I organized programming that drew on my special collections experience, including programs on local history, genealogy, history of gardens, and crafts using digital library images as inspiration. I oversaw the social media presence of the branch, in addition to other outreach responsibilities.

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Rare Book Collection

Washington, DC, June 2010-April 2015

Special Projects & Reference Librarian: I provided reference assistance for researchers in both the Rare Book Collection and the Research Library, including assistance with Harvard’s online catalog and electronic resources.  I collaborated on digital initiatives, reference and research services, collection management, and the development of a new institutional website.  I curated rare book exhibits, both on-site and online, a task that required strong research and organizational skills.  I assisted patrons in the special collections reading room.  I conducted open houses for patrons to see selections of rare books.  I promoted the collection by means of blog posts, Facebook posts, and newsletters, and I worked with the gift shop to create merchandise from images of rare books.

Weissman Preservation Center

Cambridge, MA, January 2009-June 2010

Library Assistant: I researched the history of library preservation at Harvard.  I conducted oral history interviews, wrote two papers, and composed an extensive chronology of significant events and practices since the 17th century.  This information has been useful for departmental publicity and donor relations.

Houghton Library, Harvard 

Cambridge, MA, October 2008-January 2009

Digital Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts Project Assistant: I created metadata for digital facsimiles of medieval manuscripts and composed annotated bibliographies for individual manuscripts.

Thanks to my background in medieval art history, I was able to create descriptive metadata for books of hours such as this one.  These digital facsimiles have been useful for classes studying the psalms and prayers used in different manuscripts (i.e. comparing the Use of Rome to Use of Sarum).  I also contributed to bibliographies for medieval manuscripts, such as this one.

Harvard University Botany Libraries

Cambridge, MA, January 2008-September 2008

Library and Archives Assistant: I conducted reference work for botanists from the Harvard University Herbaria.  I assisted with interlibrary loan requests.  I re-housed items and contributed to a finding aid to materials from the Blaschka glass flowers collection.  I curated an exhibit on illustrated frontispieces from 17th-century botanical literature.  I prepared an online exhibit about Pietro Crescenzi’s Ruralia Commoda, part of a collaborative project on bookbindings.