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The Assistant Director of Hamon Arts Library Beverly Mitchell wears many hats. She is a liaison for the Art and Art History and Dance Departments. She manages the Mildred Hawn Exhibition Gallery. She helps develop Hamon’s collections. In general, Mitchell is a librarian at Southern Methodist University.
Equipped with two undergraduate degrees in French and International Politics from Texas Christian University and two graduate degrees in English with a Creative Writing Specialization and Library Science from the University of North Texas Denton, Mitchell got a job at the Dallas Museum of Art in the Imaging and Library departments. One of her primary duties was cataloging images. She would spend hours poring over image after image, around 1000 or more images a week. Yet, cataloging never seemed like a chore because Mitchell “enjoyed the exposure and that work with images.”
She also liked working reference at the DMA. “I like those challenges of people coming in and asking for something and trying to find it for them,” she said. “And [reference] still continues to be something I really like in my position here.”
When Mitchell got to SMU, she was able to put her degree in library science and expansive knowledge of art to good use. “When this position became open in 2005, I was thrilled because I could really apply a lot of my knowledge in art to this position because [of my duty as] a liaison to the art and art history and apartment,” she said. “Since then, this position sort of expanded into other areas of responsibilities.”
One of the areas students might not know that Mitchell helps with is the Hawn Gallery. She helps the Hawn Gallery curatorial fellows find new exhibitions.
Mitchell’s favorite exhibition featured Basil Kincaid’s R3clamation: Routes & Roots installation and performance. “It was our very first exhibition with our new curatorial fellow Georgia Erger, and [Kincaid] installed quilts that he made,” she said. “He did a performance piece which was supposed to be very short, like 20 to 30 minutes but ended up being an hour and a half long. I still think about that performance piece. [Kincaid] had his cousin who was professional hairdresser cut his hair in the gallery space. It’s really unusual, and it really activated the space.”
Her favorite part about working at SMU is the freedom. “I’ve been able to work somewhat independently and think about how I can strategically attain those goals that you want to achieve in your areas of responsibility,” she said. “This position allows for a lot of independence but also allows for a lot of creativity too. I don’t know if, while in library school, [the professors] really emphasized or exposed you to the creative possibilities of working as a librarian.”
Interview conducted by Author Wren Lee, SMU ’22 Creative Computation and Film and Media Arts Pre-Major and Fondren Library Marketing Department Student Assistant