According to Art Librarian Anne Haas, few students know where the Pierce Art Library is. Even fewer know the woman who runs it.
Haas, who has been working at Bowdoin for over 25 years, was always interested in working with young people, but not in a teaching capacity.
It was after obtaining a bachelor's in English from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master's degree from the library school of Florida State, that she was able to work with young people at the Cuyahoga County Public Library.
"Public library children's and young adult programs are full of lots of different ways to work with kids—story hours, travel to schools to tell stories, work with mentally handicapped groups, films for kids of all ages, reading clubs," said Haas.
In 1986, after three years at Cuyahoga, Haas was temporarily hired as the art librarian at Bowdoin, and in 1987, she was made permanent.
"I love certain things about it," said Haas. "I love the students, I love working with them and building a collection of fine materials."
Haas' duties vary widely. She buys books, designs the library newsletter, teaches classes on how to use the art library databases and sits on several committees of Hawthorne-Longfellow Library (H-L Library).
Her favorite part of the job is working with the students, be it short sessions or extensive one-on-one appointments.
"It's a personal job, which I like just because I get to know the students," said Haas. "It's a really important part of the job for me."
Every year, 12 students work for Haas. Their responsibilities include re-shelving material, keeping the art library in order and working nights and weekends.
"It's inevitable to get to know them pretty well," said Haas, who has even attended weddings and seen the children of some of her former students. "I'm lucky to be a part of these kids' lives."
Over the quarter of century that Haas has been the art librarian, she has seen the College change dramatically: three presidents, the diversification of the student body, the end of the fraternity system and the construction of new buildings on campus.
One thing has not changed—the space designated for the art library.
While many institutions have separate buildings for their art libraries, Bowdoin's is located in the Visual Arts Center, shared by the visual arts and art history departments.
The art library has over 16,000 volumes and about 300 to 400 books are purchased every year, according to Haas, who sees the dwindling space as a big problem.
"The facility is impossible," she said, explaining that the collection "just grows, but space does not. And it's frustrating because we want to give good service."
The art library is 1,200 square feet, including the front desk area. It can accommodate approximately 20 people at a time.
"It's very beautiful, very light, feels good to be in there, but way too small," said Haas of the space.
Haas has done everything in her capacity to fight for more space for the art library. She has submitted six space studies to the administration requesting greater space, but to no avail.
"We have not had any luck at all," she said. "I always harvested the thought that I would help design and create a new library."
To keep the collection up-to-date with new books, Haas has "weeded" 10,000 to 15,000 books from the art library and transferred them to H-L Library.
"Right now, we're shifting every book in the library to gain a little bit of space," said Haas. "Every time I buy a new book, I have to remove another book."
Haas said she believes that the lack of visibility of the art library on campus is due to its marginalized location.
"If we had our own building, you'd see more students use it," said Haas.
Despite these challenges, however, Haas enjoys all the perks that come with her work. Over the years, for example, she has embraced the opportunity to audit classes in the art history department.
"I kept doing it until I've pretty much taken everything," said Haas. "I like art."