Staff Profile: Marsha Taichman

Who she is: Marsha Taichman, visual resources and public services librarian at the Fine Arts Library.

What she does: I do reference and instruction for AAP (College of Architecture, Art, and Planning) faculty and students, predominantly with Cornell’s art classes, as I am the liaison to that department. This involves going to classes and helping with specific projects if students have research to do on anything, from a particular artist to an exhibition or artistic movement, and these sessions often lead to individual consultations. I also purchase image resources and work on digital projects.

Why it’s important: As a librarian, I think it’s important to help people do the best research they can in the least amount of time. Students tend to feel confident doing internet research, but there’s so much additional information. I tell them about how much is available to them right now while they’re at Cornell, all the full text databases and image resources and materials from other universities via Borrow Direct. This content won’t be as readily accessible after they graduate. I teach students how to use these resources for school projects, but also for personal and professional fulfillment, for learning about themselves and enriching their own artistic practices. These concepts can be hard to grasp for undergraduate students preoccupied with time management and grades.

Where she’s from: I’m from Ottawa, Ontario.

Education: My undergraduate degree is from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. I studied English, but I also took art classes. I have a master’s degree in art history from Concordia University and a master’s degree in library and information studies from McGill University, both in Montreal, Quebec.

Background: I moved to Ithaca from Montreal, where I lived for about ten years. I spent my first few years there line-cooking, and eventually I started taking art history classes during the day, which led me to grad school. After that, I worked at some galleries and at a museum for a couple of years. It felt really unstable going from contract to contract. At that point, I’d never had job security. I wanted a career, so I decided to become a librarian.

How long at Cornell: I’ve been here for seven years, working in my current position. I’m really a city person, and moving here has been a big transition for me, though I’ve grown to love so much about Ithaca. I try to go to New York City every few months to see art, and that helps me feel more balanced.

Best part of her job: The people, both in AAP and in the library, hands down. I also love doing research with patrons and learning about their interests and scholarship.

Something she’s proud of: Recently, I’ve been bringing my daughter, Emma, to see departmental exhibitions at Tjaden Hall. It’s a great opportunity for us to talk about and engage with art. An MFA student I work with, Bruno Cançado, made an incredible rocking staircase as part of an installation, and he helped a gleeful Emma walk up and down on it. To have a conversation with Bruno about his sculptures while Emma experienced them felt pretty special. It’s nice when these parts of my life converge.

In her spare time: I enjoy being with family and friends, seeing art, reading, writing letters, going for walks, cooking, and feeding people.

Dream job: This job is pretty dreamy, though I would like to do more of some things. It would be great to increase in-class instruction with departments across campus using image resources. I would love to be involved in more curatorial projects—an exhibition on artists’ books was just proposed in the college, and, if it’s accepted, I hope we can incorporate materials from the Fine Arts Library’s collection.