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Meet Sarah Ziebell, Certified Archivist and Librarian

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Ziebell, a Certified Archivist, holds an MLIS in Archival Enterprise with a Postgraduate Endorsement of Specialization in Media Asset Management from The University of Texas at Austin. She currently manages the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation performance documentation project for The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and works as a consultant for such institutions as Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, the Byrd Hoffman Water Mill Foundation, the American University of Afghanistan, Northeast Historic Film, and the Coney Island Museum. Ms. Ziebell lectured in the NYU Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program for four years and between 2006 and 2008, was NYU Libraries’ Moving Image Preservation Specialist. She has served as Project Coordinator for the Robert Wilson Audio/Visual Collection at The New York Public Library, Director of the Collection for the Museum of the Moving Image, and Cataloger for the Pacific Film Archive of the University of California at Berkeley. Ms. Ziebell was from 2004 to 2008 the Secretary and Director of the Board of the Association of Moving Image Archivists.

Q: Why do you love The New York Public Library?

I have been incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to manage two major projects for The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. My current position involves leading an interdisciplinary documentation and programming project funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Previously, I had the express pleasure of managing the processing and preservation of the audio/visual collection of artist Robert Wilson. I cannot even begin to express my deep respect and adoration for the staff of the LPA. I love that within the Performing Arts Library there is such a mix of ages and levels of experience and a high degree of camaraderie and cooperation. To me, the LPA is an inspiring place, especially for someone coming in as a student or young professional, to witness a diversity of people and activities, all of which comprise library work. I am an advocate for the research centers of The New York Public and treasure the sense I have of them not just as traditional libraries but as homes of wholly unique special collections as well as venues for innovation in exhibition and public programming. To me, the research center model makes The New York Public Library a more central cultural hub, rather than simply a place for people to go for information or books. I have been truly moved by my experiences at the Library, the passion amongst the staff, and, of course, our wonderful patrons.

Q: What are your favorite books?

Admittedly, in my recent tenure back at the Library, my circulation records would reveal that I have checked out every book by Joyce Carol Oates, which is actually quite huge because she is such a prolific writer. My reading interests are extraordinary broad: I just consume books! Before coming to Afghanistan, and in the time I have been here, I have been reading a lot of books oriented at the region and its cultures, which has been quite enlightening. I brought a Kindle with me and loaded it up with e-books so that I could make sure I had enough to last me while I was here in Kabul.

Q: What are you currently working on?

While my work at the American University has been keeping me quite busy, I have also connected with several other Kabul-headquartered organizations with cultural and documentation missions and will likely be advising them on archival and preservation matters; the need for people with training in librarianship is so great here. I am very much looking forward to returning to the Library’s Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Project in early November, just in time for the final concert in our Duke Jazz Series. Finally, I have been so inspired by my time in Afghanistan that I have decided to pursue a PhD beginning next fall, focusing on global information access and issues of cultural heritage management in developing countries.

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