Former major Stephen Bales turned librarian
Earning my undergraduate degree in religious studies at the University of Tennessee ('96) was the foundation for my subsequent academic career. My experiences at the Department provided me with an expansive knowledge of world religions and sharpened my understanding of the relations between religious belief, culture, and history. Religious studies is the bedrock of my practice as an academic librarian and subject specialist in religion. I am currently Assistant Professor and Humanities and Social Sciences Librarian at Texas A&M University Libraries. I put what I learned at UT to work every day as library liaison to the Texas A&M University Religious Studies Program where I serve as the interface between the Program and the Libraries. As library liaison, I instruct religious studies students on how to use library resources, assist faculty, staff, and community users with their research, and develop effective library collections in religion.
My religious studies education has also greatly molded my personal research agenda as a university professor. My time at the Department, particularly my experiences in Dr. Hulsether and Dr. Hackett's classes, served as the catalyst for my research on the academic library as a "crypto-temple" and my continuing interest in the academic library as an ideological institution. Furthermore, I combine my training in comparative religion and library science to regularly publish bibliographies for both researchers of religion and fellow religious studies library subject specialist. This is immensely satisfying work because I support the type of inquiry that I fell in love with at the Department of Religious Studies.
Not only did the University of Tennessee Department of Religious Studies jumpstart my own career, it modeled my idea of what a top-notch religious studies program should be and inspires me to develop library resources for similar programs.