Not everyone realizes this, but Florida is as much rural cattle pastures and dusty orange groves as it is sunny beaches and crowded theme parks. Coming from a proud working-class family of “true Floridians” (not transplants), my artistic tendencies and academic aspirations were initially met with puzzlement. It has taken the course of a bachelor’s degree in Art History, a master’s degree in Library Science, and several museum internships, but I think my family have finally come to appreciate my commitment to the arts. Or at least they’re resigned to it.
As I was deciding what course I wanted my career to take, I often imagined myself locked away in a quiet back room in a museum, surrounded by art. I still love doing that kind of work, but it was during a library assistantship through my graduate program at UNC-Chapel Hill that I finally discovered a previously unknown people skill: collaborating with students and faculty. Whether it was tracking down an obscure bit of information, or discovering a new and dynamic way of presenting a project, I relished helping patrons accomplish their scholarly goals. I am excited to work here with faculty doing research on topics that I’m passionate about and to encourage students to better incorporate visual resources into every aspect of their lives.
I love a vibrant Southern town and I have been fortunate to live in several across the Southeast. Nashville’s laid-back, yet metropolitan vibe already feels like home. I’m looking forward to exploring hiking trails with my black lab mix, Elliott, and taking a grand tour of the finest breweries and coffee shops Nashville has to offer. Insider tips welcome.—Shelby Merritt