Employee spotlight: Sahara Scott

Sahara Scott is a bit of a renaissance woman. She’s a poet and performer, a fitness content creator, a teacher of a variety of subjects — from robotics and coding to writing and publishing — and now she’s a resident librarian for Clemson Libraries.

A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, Scott says she grew up helping out in libraries, shelving books in her school libraries in elementary and middle school. She attended Buena Vista University in Iowa, where she had a work study job in the library. She earned her bachelor’s in communication with a focus on performance studies and art therapy and then moved to St. Louis.

Despite the time she spent working in libraries as a student, she never saw herself as a librarian until she encountered a young, African American librarian in the Ferguson Municipal Library in Missouri. Scott was working at the area YMCA at the time, teaching a coding class in a program at the library, when she met this librarian.

“I thought, ‘I can work at a library?’ I always thought it was a retirement thing, something older folks did,” she said.

That realization inspired her to get a job in young adult services at the St. Louis Public Library, and she eventually decided to earn her Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

After completing her master’s degree, she later moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where she worked as a teen services librarian for the Lawrence Public Library, and later to Kansas City, Missouri, where she served as the publication manager for the Story Center at the Mid-Continent Public Library. Looking for experience in an academic library, she joined Clemson Libraries in August of 2023 in a three-year residency.

The residency program is designed to give early-career librarians a variety of experiences in an academic library, so she has been doing rotations through Clemson Libraries, working with different departments and learning as much as she can about the different roles people play. As an artist, she was drawn to the Adobe Studio and Makerspace and has spent a lot of time working in that area. She is also assisting with an oral history project in Special Collections and Archives and will be assisting with the editing and production of the “Tigers in the Archive” podcast.

Throughout her career, she has also continued to create and perform as an artist. Scott published her first book of poetry, “My Last Words… Not Really” in 2016 and has another poetry collection coming out soon. She is also working on her first novel. She toured the country performing her one-woman show “The Family Cookbook,” which was featured at the 2016 St. Louis Fringe Festival. In 2021, she released her first EP of poetry and that same year, she received the UrbArt Artist of the Year Award.

Scott says her art is about “sharing narratives that haven’t been heard before,” and that working in libraries has helped bring all the aspects of her professional life together.

“Being a librarian has allowed me to flourish in all of these areas in a way that I wasn’t able to before,” she said. “There was a moment where I was doing the full-time artist thing, doing a national tour, and that was amazing, but it doesn’t come with benefits. Now I still get to inspire people through my art, but I also get to have a structured career.”

Scott said being a librarian allows her to dig deeper into the research that informs her poetry and art.

“The research that I do behind my art doesn’t always get to shine, but I feel like my work in libraries has allowed that to shine a lot, along with my love for teaching people and giving other people access to information. It just became a nice little bow tying it all together.”

Scott has enjoyed her time at Clemson so far, and she encourages all students to come check out what the Libraries has to offer.

“There’s a lot more at Clemson Libraries than people expect — a lot more resources, a lot more assistance, just a wealth of things that people can access,” she said. “Come to the library! You won’t be disappointed.”

To see some of Scott’s fitness content, art and other work, check her out on YouTube, Instagram or X (@sistasols) or on TikTok (@sistasols4). She also posts about her work in libraries on her blog.