With Help from GLAM and Disney, Hannah Slusser ’24 Is Building a Foundation to Become a Librarian

With Help from GLAM and Disney, Hannah Slusser ’24 Is Building a Foundation to Become a Librarian

Academics, Internships, Research, Study Abroad, Testimonials

May 15, 2024

With Help from GLAM and Disney, Hannah Slusser ’24 Is Building a Foundation to Become a Librarian Hannah Slusser '24

When she arrived at Hollins nearly four years ago, Hannah Slusser ’24 was certain of two things: She wanted to major in history, and she wanted to eventually become a librarian. Slusser later added a second major in classical studies, and this spring she’s making Hollins history as the first student to graduate with a certificate in galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM). Introduced this academic year, GLAM is designed to make graduates stronger candidates for entry-level staff positions in museums, archives, and libraries, and for graduate study in a wide range of areas, from information science to public history to museum studies.

“Being a librarian isn’t just reading books, and GLAM has taught me how to effectively present the history I’ve learned and other information to people in different ways,” she says.

Through a work-study opportunity that began on her first day at Hollins and a January Short Term internship her sophomore year, Slusser has gained valuable experience during her undergraduate career working at Hollins’ Wyndham Robertson Library. “I knew I wanted to work in a library,” she says, “but I didn’t know what that would actually look like.” Working closely with Circulation Coordinator Jessi Hood and Information Literacy and Outreach Librarian Maryke Barber, Slusser says she has been able to do a deep dive into the many facets of library work, from shelving books and creating exhibits to learning software programs.

Slusser has taken her love of history and libraries beyond the classroom and the Hollins campus. She particularly enjoys studying the period of World War I and afterward, and during the summer of 2021 she got to explore a significant historical event from a unique perspective when she interned at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. On a January Short Term trip to Greece last year, she chose libraries as her research project. “I studied libraries in Greece from ancient times to their modern form,” she explains. “I got to visit Hadrian’s Library, which is the oldest library site in Athens, and then went to the National Library of Greece, which had just opened a couple of years earlier.”

One of Slusser’s most transformative experiences as a Hollins student has been her involvement with the university’s FLI program, which serves first-generation and limited-income students throughout their first year in college with an array of programming and activities.

“My first day at Hollins, I called my mom crying. I wanted to go home,” she recalls. “I was in a single room, I didn’t have any friends, there was social distancing because of Covid, and I was freaking out. FLI made it possible for me to actually connect with people. I wasn’t alone. Even now I still like to drop in on the program occasionally.”

In classical studies, Slusser has focused on literature rather than art or history, which made finding a senior thesis topic that encompassed both her majors a challenging task. She has persevered by centering on the reception and recontextualization of classical texts by members of the Queer Reform Movement in the United States.

“I used a magazine called The Ladder that I had been reading since my first year at Hollins, and other periodicals by queer rights activists to analyze how they used classical sources and references to create accessible paths of queer history all the way back to ancient times,” she says.

Even though it was just three magazines, Slusser adds, “I didn’t expect there to be so much material – over 200 issues. I spent months just reading it all. It was so much information to sort through.” Nevertheless, the result of her work, Ruth Alden Doan Assistant Professor of History Christopher Florio says, is “an excellent thesis.”

Next spring, Slusser plans to enroll in graduate school to begin a master’s degree in library and information science. But this fall, she’s engaging in a program that on its surface may seem like a complete departure from being a librarian, but in reality, complements that work perfectly.

“I got accepted into the Disney College Program!” she announces proudly. From September 2024 until February 2025, she’ll immerse herself in a variety of roles as a “cast member” at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Achieving that opportunity reflects her love of Disney and she believes it will also provide her with important skills for her chosen vocation.

“A lot of the work in libraries is guest service,” she notes. “So even though this is a different form of customer relations, I feel like I can learn good things to help me with my career.”