Staff Profile: Sara Tabaei

Graz, Austria
Graz, Austria

Where were you born?

I was born in Graz, which is the second largest city in Austria after Vienna. Graz is a medieval town with beautiful baroque red roof buildings. In 1999, Graz was added to the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage Sites. Though it is a relatively small city, (approximately 300,000 residents), it is home to 6 universities. So it is a lively and fun city.

Where else have you lived?

I lived in Shiraz, Iran. Shiraz is also a historical city. In fact it is considered one of the oldest cities in ancient Persia, and it was once famous for being the city of poets, gardens and wine. The city has many orange and lemon trees, which when they bloom in spring the fragrance of their blossoms can make you heady.

Shiraz, Iran
Shiraz, Iran

When I immigrated to the USA, I landed in the suburbs of LA, California where I was greeted by numerous cousins, second cousins and third cousins. After a year, I moved to Ann Arbor in Michigan where my would-be-husband attended the University of Michigan.  Eventually, we decided to move to New York City about 10 years ago.

What languages do you speak?

German, Farsi and English; I learned to speak these languages in that same order.

What fields have you studied and/or degrees have you earned?

I have Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English Literature, and an MLIS in Library and Information Science.

Sara Tabaei, Director of Information Literacy Services
Sara Tabaei, Library Information Literacy Director

How long have you been at Touro, and what’s your position?

I have been at Touro for 8 years. And I am the Library Information Literacy Director.

How did you become interested in Library and Information Science?

Once I deferred my Ph.D. studies in English Literature, my father–in-law, an avid book reader and book lover, suggested that I should look into a Library degree. I also was encouraged by my supervisors in California and Michigan, when I was working as a library assistant, to get a degree in Library and Information Science.

But more importantly, libraries were always of great value to me. Many of the libraries in Iran were not open to the public. Getting into the libraries, let alone getting into the stacks was not easy. One had to have connections and referrals, and then it still was up to the Head Librarians to give the final nod. So when I came to the USA and saw how accessible libraries are, I wanted to be part of it and help people with finding and sharing information.

What is the part of your job that you enjoy the most?

The fact that the role and value of libraries is constantly changing and that I have to continuously learn, read and study to stay relevant is what I enjoy as a librarian. Additionally, working with my staff, experimenting with new ideas, programs and services are also things that I like to do at my job.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

One of my biggest challenges is getting buy-in from faculty on the importance of information literacy and making them incorporate information literacy skills into their courses. Another constant thought is finding better ways to engage students in library classes and implementing active learning into one-time sessions.

If you weren’t a librarian, what would you be?

I liked acting as a child.  If I could get a second chance in my life, I probably would have gotten involved in the world of theater and/or film as a performer.

Favorite sport?

I love playing racquetball. Not only is it physically challenging, it is also a great sport, like tennis, in which one needs to use various strategies to beat the opponent. This is even harder when the other player knows you well, which in my case is my husband.

Best thing you’ve read lately?

My favorite literary genre is short story.  I am always curious to see how the author manages to write a complete story in a relatively small amount of space.  Currently, I am reading The Collected Stories by Lydia Davis. She is a master of providing the reader with a glimpse in her characters’ lives. Some of her stories consist of only a few lines while some are 40 pages long. Yet either way they are intriguing and leave the reader with a lot of questions and the urge to continue with the next story in the hope of getting a better understanding of the somewhat obsessive narrator.

redwood tree
Sara posing in front of a redwood tree in Humboldt State Park, CA

Your ideal vacation?

Exploring foreign countries and experiencing different cultures is what I love to do on my vacation.  But I could also sit at the beach for hours, staring at the blue sea, enjoying the ocean breeze and not move.

Any hobbies?

Photography, hiking, and watching movies, especially character study films, are among my favorite hobbies.  I also like to cook and experiment with new dishes.

If you’re outside, what are you most likely doing?

If not hiking the trails then walking the city! My husband and I walk at least 10 to 12 miles every weekend. Each time, we decide to walk in a different part of the city. In this way, we always discover diverse neighborhoods, restaurants and a lot of old and new architecture.

When you travel, what do you never leave home without?

My earplugs! I can’t sleep without them as they are the only way to shut down my noisy brain.

Favorite food?

Pomegranate stew with chicken (Khoresh e Fesenjan), A traditional Persian dish.

Koresh Fesenjan
Traditional Khoresh Fesenjan



5 thoughts on “Staff Profile: Sara Tabaei

  1. laurelscheinfeld November 19, 2015 / 11:42 am

    Great post Sara, thank you. Do you have a recipe for khoresh fesenjan? My son loves pomegranates so I would love to try it with him.

  2. archivistphil November 19, 2015 / 1:08 pm

    It’s far too modest to call Sara’s photography a hobby – her work is quite beautiful, unique and has been rightfully recognized in competitions.

  3. annettecarr November 19, 2015 / 6:40 pm

    Very cool post. I learned a lot about you 🙂

  4. Rita Hilu January 3, 2018 / 2:57 pm

    Dear Sara, we are very proud of you!!!, you are amazing and you accomplished a lot in life!!!
    Also need the recipe from the chicken with pomegranates. I buy them by the case, they are super healthy.

    • tourolibraries January 3, 2018 / 3:16 pm

      Dear Rita,

      Thank you for your kind words. But as we all know, you are the amazing one 🙂
      I will share the recipe with you when we meet next week.

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