Deborah Pierce

Honors Librarian Spotlight

The Honors Librarian Program is a partnership between UW Honors and the UW Libraries to provide undergraduate Honors students with an introduction to the library system and a series of friendly specialists who are interested in supporting students' research needs. There are an entire cohort of librarians who are available to help you develop a thesis for a research paper, direct you to the most useful journal or book to support your research, and they can even suggest the best place to study on campus! The librarians are knowledgeable, well-integrated in the larger UW community, and are eager to meet and work with students like you! Don't miss out on this excellent opportunity to take advantage of this valuable resource!

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Deborah Pierce
Reference & Instruction Librarian, Odegaard Undergraduate Library

What is your personal area of interest/focus/research?

I like to describe myself as having chronic curiosity. I always seem to have a “to read” and “to experience” list which would likely take more than this lifetime to satiate. In addition, anyone who knows me well, knows I’m always game for a juicy conversation on “deep” subjects. The themes that continue to surface and catch my attention include the ways music influences and interacts with our world, anything that attempts to assist us in refining and evolving human potentials, the mystery of the life-force, and social artistry. My research tends to involve music and its overlap with all of my other interests; my publications are focused on information literacy, musician wellness, and music education themes.

Why did you decide to get involved in the Honors Librarian Program?

It sounded like a great way to have more close interactions with students I might not regularly encounter in my daily work on campus. And... you know I love those conversations!

You’re currently teaching a class for Honors, “Exploring the Power of Music”. How did you come to teach this class? What has your experience teaching this class been like?

I have been a music educator for over forty years and have assisted musicians and music scholars with their research and personal inquiries for over thirty years. I have also experienced the decline of support for music education over those years and have tried to rethink how we might infuse our knowledge and excitement for the powerful force music exudes to others. I was starting to write an article on the subject when Honors opened the possibility for Honors Librarians to propose a course for the UW program. I would much rather teach than write, so decided I wanted to try some of my ideas in the classroom before philosophizing to the larger community. This will be the third year I have taught the course for Honors, the first year as a three credit course, the last two years it has been a five credit course. It continues to evolve as I try various ideas, get feedback, and eavesdrop on honors students’ thoughts and feelings about the work (play). I learn as much from you as you hopefully learn from me, and I get to try unique teaching ideas in a welcoming and rich interdisciplinary learning environment.

What other topics would you be interested in teaching?

I have also developed a course for General Studies I call “Inspiration From Contemporary Thinkers: Exploring Your Place in the Universe” which I have taught several times at UW. The course integrates my ideas, energies, and any wisdom I have gained from decades of contemplation and participation in the human potentials and social artistry movements. I love how the course has evolved and have enjoyed interacting with students who have chosen to take this journey. I have had the privilege of observing the evolution of my students’ thinking and understanding of their own special talents and passions. I hope to continue teaching and evolving this course in some capacity. To empower our youth to recognize and understand their true essence and their unity with each other and all creatures is to heal ourselves and our planet.

What do you enjoy most about working with students?

I love seeing minds open and thinking change, including my own. Working with students provides me with creative challenges and often gives me rich opportunities to understand the world through the lens of our future.

What advice would you give to current undergraduate students?

Cultivate chronic curiosity and don’t be afraid to filter life through rose tinted glasses. It’s a wonderful way to live. There are a lot of challenges facing humanity, but there are also inspirational people serving in wonderful and exciting ways; excavate for the possible.

What advice would you give to a current senior (both a high school senior / college application AND a soon-to-be-college grad)?

In the words of Dr. Howard Thurman, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

What's your favorite place on campus and why?

I think it would be the various places where the acoustics are ripe for singing. Take my class and come sing with us in some of these places!

What's the most under-used resource at the libraries?

I believe it’s the people who work here. We are a wonderful group of knowledgeable, helpful, and interesting folk.

Can you identify a mentor that you had as an undergraduate student? Can you say a little bit about what that experience was like?

I recall many foundational moments with faculty, fellow students, and others I encountered as an undergraduate (and beyond) which charted my evolution as an educator, a musician, and a human being. They are too numerous to explain here. I believe it is taking in the combination of all of the tiny gems I was given to make my own unique soup that is the true gift. If you want to hear details, come talk with me some day!

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