TDPS Welcomes Back Performance Librarian and Alum Drew Barker

March 2, 2017

Last month, TDPS welcomed back Drew Barker (MA Theatre and Performance Studies ’13) as the new Performing Arts Librarian at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library (MSPAL).

After spending time both as a library assistant in MSPAL and getting his Masters in Library Science (MLS) at UMD, Drew sees his new position as a homecoming. “I had hoped this could work out eventually, but I knew not when,” he said. “I am tremendously excited about working with TDPS and the libraries again for many reasons, but mainly because I love connecting people with knowledge and facilitating the discovery of further connections. The students, faculty, and staff have all been very welcoming and I feel privileged to work at this university.”

In his role as the Performing Arts Librarian, Drew’s work is crucial to the success of both undergraduate and graduate coursework in TDPS. As he explains it, Drew serves as a “bridge from coursework to resources, as a guide to our print and online collections, and as a procurer of additional materials.” Whether you are working on a paper, developing a syllabus, or doing research for a design, Drew will be able to direct you towards helpful materials. Because Drew also has experience as a scholar, dramaturg, director, casting director, and teacher, he can “give guidance on next steps for all kinds of projects.”

Prior to coming to TDPS for his MA, Drew received a BFA in Theatre Education from UNC Greensboro and worked as the Artistic Associate at Triad Stage in Greensboro, heading up dramaturgy, literary management, and local casting. Following his time in TDPS and during his MLS program, Drew worked extensively as a dramaturg for theatre and dance at Center Stage, Theatre J, Round House, and Ford’s Theatre, as well as collaborating with TDPS Professor Adriane Fang on her Kennedy Center commissioned work, Grains. In his capacity as an archivist and librarian, he also worked on two Future of Information Alliance seed grant projects dealing with opening up the cultural archive for access to Choreometrics materials in the Library of Congress and Tule Lake Japanese internment camp records at the National Archives.
Drawing on his past experience, Drew is looking forward to exciting future projects with MSPAL as the Performing Arts Librarian.
Drew and his colleagues “are in the exploratory phase” of creating a Research Commons, introducing TDPS students to digital humanities and encouraging our artist-scholars to collaborate and create using digital tools. In an effort to flesh out that program, he hopes students might suggest not only new books to add to the library, but also new digital tools that will help with their research and artistic process.
In addition to new digital humanities initiatives and continuing events around performances at The Clarice, Drew also hopes to revive the library’s "Speaking of Books" series highlighting select faculty and their book projects, artistic process or books that have personally influenced them.
During his first few months in the library, Drew encourages students, faculty, and staff to bring ideas or a friendly hello: “find my office in the library, go up the steps, then go to the left into the administrative suite--or just ask someone at the front desk to call me.”
Welcome back, Drew!

Drew and his wife, Kelsey Hunt '14, an alumna in MFA Costume Design and adjunct faculty in Design


By Jonelle Walker