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Religious Studies Scholar Finds Calling in Library Science

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Always learning something new, Mark Bilby’s interests span religious studies to information technology to the classics. He found his sweet spot in the field of library science, and joins Cal State Fullerton this fall as a senior assistant librarian.

Bilby is a member of the Association of College and Research Libraries, American Library Association, and California Academic and Research Libraries.

What inspired you to go into the field of library science?

Two fields have particular interest to me: library science and comparative religions. My academic journey led me to graduate school and then to earn a doctorate in religious studies at the University of Virginia, where I took most of my coursework in the Classics Department. After 10 years of teaching religious studies and information technology at various universities, I finally realized the best way to bring together my passions for academics and information science was to become a librarian.

What are your research interests?

My academic publications and presentations have dealt with biblical studies, early Christian epic poetry, the influence of classical literature on the New Testament, Christian folklore and legends, Jewish-Christian-Muslim intellectual and social relationships, faculty-librarian collaboration and digital humanities projects.

How can students better take advantage of the Pollak Library?

I’d suggest two ways for students to take better advantage of the library: 1) find a library buddy, a fellow student who is comfortable and adept using the library facilities and resources; 2) connect with a personal librarian, someone whose interests and/or background resonate with your own. Those connections will help students realize that the library is not merely a place, but also a community of friends and scholars.

What changes do you envision in your field five years from now?

Print books will continue to play a role but will increasingly be available through paging and warehousing solutions. Digital books and interfaces will continue to grow in popularity. The stigma against Open Access will wane as a groundswell of governments, NGOs (non-governmental organizations), top-tier universities, academic associations and editorial boards embrace a common good rather than a for-profit model of knowledge production.

What’s your favorite book?

Homer’s “Iliad.” At the University of Virginia, classics students recite the entirety of the “Iliad” in Greek each year near a statue of Homer. In its vivid detail, rich drama and astonishing cadences, it is unsurpassed as an oral-written performance.

See the complete list of new tenure-track faculty joining CSUF this fall.