Eiteljorg welcomes new museum librarian, Suzanne Braun-McGee, to the Watanabe Family Library

Eiteljorg welcomes new museum librarian, Suzanne Braun-McGee, to the Watanabe Family Library

By Staci Seber, Eiteljorg marketing and communications intern


Suzanne Braun-McGee at the Eiteljorg’s Watanabe Family Library

Suzanne Braun-McGee is a highly experienced library professional who recently joined the Eiteljorg Museum as the new librarian of the Watanabe Family Library and Stephen and Sharon Zimmerman Resource Center. Suzanne has assisted many patrons in her time behind a librarian’s desk at other libraries, but one of the more entertaining exchanges came when a 650-pound sea lion ambled up.

At the time, Suzanne was working as the first librarian at the Indianapolis Zoo library. “One of the trainers decided to take Merlin (the sea lion) out for a walk,” Suzanne said. “Well, it’s not that far to walk into the education center from the aquatic center.” The trainer guided Merlin into the library while Suzanne was working at her desk.  Noticing a “fishy” aroma in the air, Suzanne looked up to see Merlin staring at her. “Hi Merlin!” she said, not interrupting her work. Merlin didn’t have any items to check out of the zoo library that day, but Suzanne recalls with a laugh encountering the seagoing, four-flippered visitor.

Suzanne’s 16 years as the zoo librarian focused on assisting staff and conservationists with specialized areas of zoological research. “People don’t think of the zoo as a museum, but technically it is. It just has a living collection,” she explained. While working at the zoo, Suzanne wrote and received two Indiana Heritage Research Grants. One grant established the archives of the Indianapolis Zoological Society and the other grant established an oral history program.

After working in academic libraries and public libraries in the city, Suzanne is excited to be getting back to a specialized library.

A Fort Wayne native with an MLS from Indiana University, Suzanne resides in Fishers. Her new job means her workplace has relocated to the opposite end of White River State Park, from the zoo to the Eiteljorg.

At the museum’s Watanabe Family Library, Suzanne’s main role is to assist the curators and other staff with their research needs as well as assist the public with information contained in the Eiteljorg’s collections.

Suzanne has noticed that in the library profession, some patrons are hesitant to ask librarians questions. She wants Eiteljorg patrons to know that she is here to answer their questions and assist whenever possible.

Her transition to the Eiteljorg has been quite easy as she is no stranger to the museum. “I’ve always loved this particular museum and it was being built during the time I was at the Indianapolis Zoo, so I watched it go up.”

Her late husband, Ken McGee, also served as an artist in residence at the Eiteljorg in 2006. Ken was a folk singer and storyteller who played traditional and contemporary music along with original compositions. He sang the songs that touched his life and he hoped that by playing them in his unique style, the songs would touch the lives of his audiences, Suzanne explained.

While at the Eiteljorg, Suzanne is looking for any gaps in the museum’s current library collections and will seek to purchase materials to close those gaps. Suzanne believes in lifelong learning and hopes she can bring awareness to the importance of public libraries and specialized libraries such as the Watanabe Family Library.

“We’re very excited to have Suzanne as the Eiteljorg librarian,” said Martha Hill, the vice president for public programs and the Beeler Family director of education at the museum. “She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this position; she has great experience working with both the general public and researchers, managing archives and writing grant proposals—all of which make her a great fit for the Eiteljorg.”

Suzanne brings her lively personality and eagerness to help to the Watanabe Family Library.  She is excited to serve the Eiteljorg and its community in the years to come.

Suzanne succeeds Kristin Stout, a veteran in the library science field who left to become circulation department head at the Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library in Zionsville

So, be sure to stop by the Watanabe Family Library to welcome Suzanne Braun-McGee as the newest member of the Eiteljorg Museum team. For more information about the museum library, visit this link: https://eiteljorg.org/visit/library-resource-center/

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