Alumni Stories: Hilary Hargis

Hilary Hargis

My first professional library job was as an assistant librarian at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, now the Science History Institute, in Philadelphia, PA. My understanding of the Foundation’s mission, as demonstrated through my history major, was one of the reasons I was hired. This position built up my library skills and positioned me for my next steps in librarianship.

Though I am currently working with scientific disciplines rather than directly with history, I do feel that my history major has contributed to my professional life in libraries. Most importantly, my history studies have equipped me with a value and sense of stewardship for a body of knowledge, a sense of participating in passing down a legacy of what has been and can be known. This is in addition to all of the skills in critical thinking, writing, and research that I gained in the program, along with basic knowledge of the history of science I gained at SPU. 

I am so glad to see the emphasis on archives and museum studies that now exists in the SPU history program. If these career paths had been highlighted while I was a history undergrad, there is a fair chance it would have influenced the direction of my graduate studies. As it was, I was 3/4 of the way through my library degree when I realized that archives would have been a natural fit for my history background — and by that time, the library ship had sailed. I have no regrets on where I’ve ended up, but I am thrilled that current SPU history students will have an early awareness of these exciting career possibilities.

I am currently the Associate Librarian at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, MD. Under contract with NASA, STScI is responsible for the science operations of the Hubble Space Telescope. The Institute will also perform both mission and science operations for the James Webb Space Telescope when it launches in the next few years. The STScI Library supports the Institute’s staff and collects in the areas of astronomy, physics, computer science, engineering, and space science. I am responsible for cataloging, collection development (selecting materials for purchase and identifying items for withdrawal), electronic resources management, marketing, and contributing to reference and reporting. I’ve been employed at STScI since June 2017.  

I have been married since 2006, and my husband and I have two sons. I am active with my family at our local church, and in my spare time I dabble in art, violin, and creative writing. 

I see my years at SPU as formative and foundational, a time when my faith grew, lifelong relationships were formed, and interests were forged (or jettisoned, as in the case of some of the more adventurous electives I took and subsequently realized were not for me — also a valuable learning experience …). The amazing dedication of the SPU faculty had a direct impact on my intellectual growth, but also on my sense of value for my own thoughts and abilities. I am thinking of how Prof. Darrell Allen suggested that he and I do an independent study on Western history — a very challenging study involving the sacrifice of much of Prof. Allen’s own time; of Dr. Michael Hamilton’s patient and inspirational mentorship for my honors project; of how Dr. Bill Woodward and his wife fed me at their dining room table and listened to me once a week, every week, for four years. As I was a very serious student, I was more likely to be writing a paper on any given weekend than participating in SPU’s many social activities, but I soaked up the culture of Falcon Man, the Orangemen, Roomies, and engaging the culture and changing the world. 

Josh Farrar Family

Meet Josh Farrar

I am a PhD student in the Nautical Archaeology Program of the Anthropology Department at Texas A&M University.

Collin Markstrom

Meet Colin Markstrom

I decided to apply to SPU because I had heard such great things about the student experience there. The smaller class sizes made building relationships with faculty and other students easy.