In retrospect, it seems obvious that I would eventually attend a library and information sciences program. Like many of us, I was an early and voracious reader, receiver of exceptions on borrowing limits and a student library aide from sixth grade on. I worked in my small college library throughout my undergraduate years, including summers. I don’t know how it took me so long to recognize it as a logical path for me.
From a practical standpoint, I knew from the start that the market for library jobs in my area is a very tight one, and that I am not willing to relocate away from my community. My intentions, from the beginning of my studies, were to cover as much ground as I could in order to give myself the broadest range of possible career paths in the future. This was also informed by past experience: my previous professional life began in the late 90s, during the first dotcom boom, while commercial photography first shifted to digital technologies. I have experienced first-hand the upheaval and challenges that come with rapid technological change and chaotic economic shifts, and I aim to be as prepared for the future twists and turns in my field as possible.
My professional goals, now that I have completed the work for the MLIS, are to find a position in an organization that will support and encourage my continued improvement. I intend to use my newfound leadership skills along with my technical knowledge and communications experience; I am especially interested in educational technologies, new tech, socially-minded startups, and community-oriented organizations.
As an information professional, I am passionate about connecting users to the information they need, teaching them to find and evaluate that information when it is appropriate to do so, and strengthening the connections between individuals and organizations in my communities. During my two years in the MLIS program, I was fortunate to practice my new skills in a range of environments and in a variety of roles: at a charter Montessori school as a library volunteer, at a large academic library as a virtual intern and student assistant working on mobile application development, and as an academic conference organizer. I have taken freelance projects in writing, editing, and web design during school breaks, using my coursework in User Experience, Information Visualization, and Metadata to inform and improve those skillsets.
I used several of my course assignments as opportunities for volunteer work, developing a collection management plan and policy for a local nonprofit; assisting an area photographer in developing and implementing a metadata management plan for an enormous multimedia project; and organizing and staffing an academic conference. I volunteered at professional conferences, hosted online collaborations between student organizations and chaired the Executive Committee of an active student chapter. Being able to use my skills and experience to assist in connecting people and communities was tremendously satisfying, and it inspired me to challenge myself with new types of projects in order to keep improving and expanding my skills.
These experiences helped me discover a passion for the element of service in information professions. I have been increasingly aware of all aspects of LIS being a form of service, in some way; otherwise, what is the point of the work that we do? What good is a collection or program unless it meets someone’s needs? Even in a corporate or startup environment, tasked with the creation, organization, management and distribution of information for a purpose of generating profit, our purpose is still to serve the needs of our users and our organizations, whether we call them stakeholders, patrons, consumers, or managers. I believe that my training in information science and the art of organizing and presenting information carries with it a responsibility to serve our user communities--whoever they may be-- by connecting users to the most accurate and relevant information in the most easily accessible form.