Bridget Thrasher – From Earth Science PhD to Stanford Librarian

Career Blog

Published: September 8, 2017 by Kate M. Spaulding

As part of my effort to explore the available LIS career paths, I reached out to some SJSU iSchool alumni to learn about their jobs. The third stop on this career tour was Bridget Thrasher (previous stops: Digital Music Librarian and Public Librarian).

She is the Earth and Environmental Sciences Librarian at Stanford University, which sounds pretty fun (and very impressive). I asked her to talk about academic libraries, her work, and her path, and she was gracious enough to agree. I hope you find this as fascinating as I do!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, where you work, and what you do?

I am the Earth and Environmental Sciences Librarian at Branner Library at Stanford University. My primary duty is to support the faculty, staff, and students in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. This support comes in the form of:

  • maintaining collections with the most relevant and up-to-date materials, including print, digital, and data
  • conducting workshops on various topics (e.g., information literacy, research skills, citation tools) and
  • creating discoverable access points for research output from researchers within the school

My one-year anniversary in this position is coming up in mid-September!

What inspired you to get your MLIS? What drew you to special libraries?

I actually thought about going down the MLIS route about 15 years ago, but I stuck on the science path, eventually earning my doctorate in earth science in 2009. Afterward, I spent a few years in a postdoc/research position in which I was exposed to the many issues surrounding the curation, discovery, and accessibility of large scientific datasets (climate model projections, in particular). I decided to make a career change that I hoped would allow me to leverage my scientific, data, and programming backgrounds, thinking I would possibly end up at one of the big federal scientific data centers. 

How did you get to your position as an Earth and Environmental Sciences Librarian at Stanford?

I happened to be working as an intern in the David Rumsey Map Center at Stanford when the position came open. The person who oversees both the DRMC and Branner knew I was finishing up my MLIS and that I had a background in earth science and approached me about applying for the position. I guess it was one of those being-in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time scenarios!

I know you’re involved in your local SLA chapter. Has that helped your career trajectory?

I was part of the last cohort of mentees in the chapter’s mentorship program. In that program, I was paired with a Stanford librarian who introduced me to others at the university. This helped me to be more comfortable with the surroundings and the people with whom I would eventually be interviewing, both as an intern and as a librarian. Without my SLA mentor, I don’t know that I’d be where I am today.

What is the best career advice you’ve gotten and/or what’s your favorite career advice to give?

Don’t be afraid to get out there and meet people! Internships and informational interviews are a great way to feel out the landscape and to see how things really work.

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