Working in Libraries – Like Mother, Like Daughter


Sarah Stonesifer and her mother

Growing up with a librarian led Sarah Stonesifer, MLS alumna ’11, to spend a lot of time in libraries. Sarah’s mother, Susan Stonesifer, MLS alumna ’97, has been a librarian for over 20 years. As the Miller Branch Manager for Howard County Library System, Susan leads a team of 65 who envision and implement new services at this state-of-the art library facility.

Sarah’s influence in choosing a career path in libraries was due to her mother’s diverse work history and how she applies her work ethic to everything she does. After graduating from UMD’s iSchool, Sarah worked in the school library setting for six years and is now the Digital Missioner and Manager of Operations for the Department of Lifelong Learning at Virginia Theological Seminary, where her father happens to be an alumnus.

One of the most important things that Sarah learned at the iSchool is that there is not one type of librarian. This helped her keep an open mind to the different ways she could apply her MLS degree. In her current position, she consistently comes back to what she learned about research interviews, how to figure out what people need, and how to go about extracting the most important pieces of information. Sarah’s greatest professional accomplishment is launching a webinar series that reaches hundreds of people each month. This series has grown to being a consistent source of helpful information for those who work within faith communities. Sarah advises students, “Follow your passions and see how your educational background can synch with that.”

As for her mother, Susan, the iSchool gave her the big picture view of librarianship and the world of information. Susan credits the course “Creating Information Infrastructures” to opening her eyes to all the ways our lives are sorted and curated. Her main avocation is working as the Historiographer for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. A lifelong Episcopalian, she first connected with the Archives of the Diocese when she was an MLS student in the 1990’s conducting an interview with then historiographer for the course “History of Libraries and Archives.”

Choosing a career path is often difficult for college students but with an inspiring librarian as a mother, it was an easy choice for Sarah.

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