Dana Sly didn’t plan to become a librarian. The director of the Helen Temple Cooke Library started out as an art history major at Grinnell College in Iowa, thinking she’d eventually become a college professor herself.
“I went in studying art history and my head was turned by history proper,” Sly said. “I wound up doing some fellowships where I spent a lot of time alone in library and archives spaces. It was there that I thought, ‘These people are great!’”
She decided to pursue a Master’s of Library and Information Science at Simmons University in Boston, creating her own program that combined book arts and color reproduction. This landed her a job at the Boston Public Library assisting with a large inventory project, and after that, an 8-year position at the Boston Architectural College (BAC) on Newbury Street.
“One of the things I was so happy with at the BAC was that I connected with their mission of open access and space for everyone — a place where anybody can do anything,” she said. “I found those similar values reflected in Dana Hall: a very strong emphasis on kindness and individuality, which is really important to me.”
Sly started in the Helen Temple Cooke Library at the end of August in the midst of the continuing Classroom Building Project, which finds some classes temporarily taking place in the Library. “Having classes there has been so helpful in terms of learning names and getting to know people,” she said. She’s also been getting her bearings as the library completes its regularly scheduled weeding project, where current titles are evaluated for relevance and retired as appropriate.
She hopes to continue what’s been going well in the Library and build off of that momentum. “It’s so clearly the hub of the School,” Sly said. “I want people to feel comfortable and confident and welcome in the space; I want them to feel like they see themselves reflected in here. I think so many of the patrons already do, which is wonderful to see, and I’d like every single patron to feel that way.”