In January 2024, Sierra Laddusaw joined the University of Michigan community as the Curator for Maps and Graphics at the Clements Library. Sierra comes to Michigan from University of Arkansas – Fort Smith where she was the Scholarly Communication Librarian. Previously she was at Texas A&M University, where she spent 14 years as a Library Specialist, Supervisor, Librarian, then Curator. Before moving to Michigan, Sierra received a Master of Library Science from Texas Woman’s University, she is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Geographic Information Science from Northwest Missouri State University.
In this post, Sierra answers a few questions designed to introduce her to the Clements Library’s visitors and supporters.
Tell us about your role at the Clements.
As the curator for both the Maps Division and Graphics Division, I’m lucky to work with visual materials in a variety of formats. As a curator I support discovery and access to the collections under my care, this includes processing and cataloging of collections, assisting researchers, and providing class instruction. Another aspect of my role is collection development, it is always a treat to work with collectors looking for a future home for their materials, and browsing dealer and auction catalogs feels a little like a treasure hunt!
What experiences prepared you for this position?
While at Texas A&M, I curated several collections. As the first Curator of Maps at Texas A&M, I had the unique opportunity to develop a new rare map collection while also collaborating with my fellow curators on growing the cartographic holdings within their distinct collecting areas. In addition to working with maps, I gained experience with a wide variety of collection materials as the Maritime Curator and Co-Curator of both the Chapman Texas & Borderlands Collection and the Dykes Rangeland Collection.
I have extensive experience with description of collections from my previous positions, specializing in cataloging maps while at Texas A&M and producing metadata for digital collections at both Texas A&M and UA Fort Smith. Having the opportunity to dig into the history of an object in order to describe it fully is something I enjoy!
Sierra working in her office at the Clements.
What excites you most about the Clements Library?
I’m excited to return to working with maps, cartographic material has been a large part of my career. In addition to maps, I’m looking forward to working with the collections under the Graphics Division. I studied theatre design, art, and music in my undergraduate days – which has informed my approach to cartographic materials. Formally working with an extensive collection of visual materials, encompassing a broad range of formats, is a wonderful chance to use the skills I’ve developed during my education and career and to expand my knowledge.
What materials in the collections do you think people should know about?
Every time I browse a shelf or open a box, I encounter something special. Something that caught my eye during my first week is the fantastic collection of editions of Ptolemy’s Geographia. A 1535 edition includes copious manuscript notes from previous owners, showing how they studied the work. One studious owner, Joannes Hünerstein, inscribed their name and the dates they worked with the volume (1612-1613). In a 1540 edition, the endpapers were made from reusing vellum pages from an illuminated manuscript.
What books are you reading? Do you have any book recommendations for people to learn more about maps and graphics?
I have a tradition when moving to a new location to pick up a local history book – since this is a move to a new state I went with a statewide history. I checked out a copy of Dunbar’s Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State from the Shapiro Library and am reading it during my lunches.
Are there any questions you would like to add to help our constituents get to know you better?
I collect a few different things. Starting with books, one of my favorite modern authors is Michael Moorcock – I’m working towards completion in having a copy of each of his published works on my shelves, but then also am on the hunt for first editions to replace reprints in my collection. I was incredibly lucky that Michael’s archive is at Texas A&M, letting me dive into the manuscripts for his novels and making visits to his house to pick up additional donations to his archive. I also collect fine press editions of Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, I look for special bindings and illustrated editions.
Outside of books, my largest collection is of pins and brooches. I began buying them at antique stores and flea markets as a child and never stopped. If you see me about, I am more likely than not to be wearing one. My collection ranges from antique cameos to mid century bakelite to pieces from currently working jewelry artists.