November was a very busy month for us at St Catherine University’s MLIS Program. We had a great External Review Panel visit from the American Library Association, Committee on Accreditation.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our self-study process. The visit was very collegial, positive, and all around great. We are expecting a full and unconditional accreditation decision in February at ALA Midwinter.
Winter is one of my favorite times of year. Yes, the cold gets to me, but winter is a time of reflection, spending time with loved ones, devouring a book by the fire, and preparing for the new year. I’m reminded of a quote by William Blake, “in seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy”. My hope is that you spend this winter time reflecting and enjoying.
May your holiday season be bright, filled with laughter, good food, and warm socks.
Grace and Peace,
Director, MLIS Program
Please note, the image slider is best viewed on a desktop, laptop or tablet device –in order to accommodate the images and greetings, we have not optimized it for smart phones.
A Note from December Graduates
At the beginning of the semester we invited all graduating students to send a note about their plans after graduation.
Like many students after graduation, my main objective upon leaving St. Kate’s is landing a job that puts the hard-earned MLIS degree to work. Unlike many students, however, I’ll also be working toward a second graduate degree: I start an accelerated film studies master’s program through National University in early January and should be finished with the program by the end of 2018.
David’s plans after graduation include looking for a job in cataloging or metadata management (preferably in the nonprofit or academic sectors), revising papers that professors suggested he publish and actually submit them for publication, and starting on research projects that he actually wants to pursue.
Ideally, he would like to work with organizations or collections surrounding social justice or cultural heritage preservation.
I am excited to begin my career in librarianship. I am pursuing employment opportunities in academic and public libraries, and I would love to work in the areas of instruction and reference.
I have a background in Spanish, education, Latin American Studies, and experience teaching English Language Learners. I hope to find a library position that lets me use my bilingual and teaching skills to best serve diverse patron populations. I love to teach, and a position where I could develop information literacy instruction and work with students is my goal.
I would like to give a big “Thank You!” to the St. Kate’s MLIS program, to the MLIS faculty, and to the St. Kate’s librarians for an amazing experience over these last two years. I am so happy to have an MLIS degree and to join this wonderful profession.
MLIS Faculty: Artists’ Books and LIS 7300Your first thought on seeing such a work might not be “Gee, I wonder how to catalog that.” However, in LIS 7300, the Advanced Organization of Knowledge course, that is the central question for the class final project.
Last spring I was in touch with a graduate of our program who happened to be working at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. She mentioned that the Center, in addition to being an all-around resource for the creation of handmade books, also had a small library that contained many fine samples of artists’ books, and all needed original cataloging.
Over the summer we worked out a plan to have students in LIS 7300 create bibliographic records for a selection of these books.
Artists’ books often are unique, or a book might be manifested in only a few copies, with perhaps some differences from one copy to the next. The materials the book is made of and the techniques used in the creation of the book are just as critical (in some cases more so) than any textual or graphic content.
Hence, there is a specialized vocabulary to describe these aspects of artists’ books, and while standard cataloging rules are a good place to start, more than one set of descriptive rules can be applied to these works.
There is as yet no common standard for creating the content of the bibliographic record for artists’ books.
To me, good cataloging rests on two foundations:
- The first is the capacity to develop an affinity for the work (or body of work) to be cataloged;
- The second is applying the various relevant standards to create metadata that lets the creator’s voice come forward.
The body of rules and standards, alas, keeps growing ever more complex.
While RDA was supposed to simplify cataloging practice, so far, the result has been just the opposite: we’re seeing a multiplicity of guidelines along with the publication of standards by many different communities of practice. At least for now, it isn’t possible to know everything needed to catalog any arbitrary item or work—cataloging in a domain of material you’re not familiar with takes research and exploration.
Hence, one of the best skills a cataloger can have is the capacity to determine what she needs to explore in order to catalog a work or set of works up to the standards of the community of practice connected to the material.
That’s why I thought this would be a great project for LIS 7300.
The MCBA will get some fine work done in their catalog that will provide detailed and finely textured access to these unique and special materials, and each student will have a well-crafted set of work they can use to show their cataloging skills.
They also will be able show that they can catalog practically anything because they have a solid foundation in both the intellectual and practical aspects of cataloging coupled with the ability to do the research and sifting needed to tackle a body of work that might be totally new and for which there are no fixed metadata standards.
St. Kate’s Libraries: It’s All About the Access
What is Open Access? Peter Suber (from whom I took a Philosophy class at Earlham College) wrote some of the first definitions and discussions of open access. His Very Brief Introduction to Open Access is a helpful primer, since there are many thoughts and ideas about what it is and what it means.
One of the common misconceptions about OA is that it is not as rigorous as traditional scholarship. However, OA initiatives are dedicated to thorough and rigorous review, as much as the review process that a large publishing house charging thousands of dollars for one journal subscription performs. They also worry about losing their copyright. As an author/creator, you always have the right to ask to retain the copyright to your work. Organizations such as SPARC provide guidance on how to protect your work and ensure it is open access.
As a librarian, the most important aspect of OA literature is that it removes barriers to access. It is open to anyone and available anywhere there is internet! Access to information is a tenet of libraries and librarians.
The global impact possible by providing OA to all scholars, researchers, students, health professionals, and so many others is astounding.
Institutions in developing countries often do not have the ability to provide access to the scholarship that institutions in countries like the United States can afford.
Through OA, research and scholarship can be shared throughout the world regardless of local resources and funding. Mobile devices and access to the internet through those devices is pervasive throughout the world. Many developing countries have more access to the internet through mobile devices than electricity. (Data Team, 2017)
Through OA, researchers, medical professionals, teachers, and farmers all have access to information that was previously impossible to obtain. Their performance and own research can build upon data and scholarship available as well as contribute to it in an OA environment.
Here are some key points about OA and how it can benefit different types of institutions:
OA literature provides global exposure to open educational resources that would not have been available before, particularly without a high cost to schools and teachers. In a High School setting teachers and librarians can expose their students to original scholarly and scientific research and provide an amazing opportunity for students to see what is possible and what is currently happening in different disciplines. In an Elementary education, a teacher can find new pedagogical practices, perhaps more globally oriented, and/or provide supplemental curricular materials from around the world exposing their students to the world, other cultures, and real world experiences and resources.
As a school librarian you can help the teachers and students use, evaluate, and even create their own resources as well as emphasize the value and impact of OA to help create a new generation of scholars, writers, and global citizens.
Patrons in public libraries come from all walks of life; you can find researchers and students, home schooling parents and teenagers building rockets in their garage. Why shouldn’t all of our patrons have access to scholarly works that previously only academic libraries had access to? In this online and hybrid educational world we live in, a public library may be the only library some college students have near them. OA strives to achieve equitable access. For those libraries that do not have wealthy communities to fund resources, OA can provide valuable resources regardless of economic and sociological factors.
All libraries and librarians contribute and benefit from open access initiatives, but academic and scholarly institutions and organizations can make the biggest impact. These institutions are expected to produce scholarship and research as part of their mission. Initiatives that encourage and educate faculty and students about OA are numerous among colleges and universities. Some universities require that their faculty only publish in open access journals. Some libraries have gone to the extent of cancelling their subscriptions to the very high cost journals. And, many academic libraries are providing and supporting institutional repositories, like Sophia, for faculty to publish, disseminate, or archive their scholarship. More academic libraries are delving into publishing journals on open access platforms as alternatives to traditional publishing. At St. Kate’s, we have three journals underway.
If you have any questions about OA, talk to a librarian. We’d love to work with you…
- Open Access Overview: Focusing on open access to peer-reviewed research articles and their preprints by Peter Suber – https://legacy.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm (many helpful links)
- PLOS – Benefits of Open Access Journals – https://www.plos.org/open-access/
- International Open Access Week – http://www.openaccessweek.org/
- SPARC – Open Access – https://sparcopen.org/open-access/
- Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org
- Data Team. (Nov. 8, 2017). In much of sub-Saharan Africa, mobile phones are more common than access to electricity. Retrieved from The Economist website https://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2017/11/daily-chart-5
- Suber, Peter. (Dec. 29, 2004). A very brief introduction to open access. Retrieved from https://legacy.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/brief.htm
Director of Libraries, Archives and Media
Alum News: Elvira Embser-Herbert
Elvira graduated from the Dominican/St. Kate’s MLIS program in January 2000. She has been an Electronic Services Librarian with the MN State Law Library since April 2016.
Over the past 17 years she has attended Law School, moved to Canada, returned to Saint Paul, and also worked in a number of libraries.
What attracted you to the LIS field…
After I graduated with a degree in English, I went to work in the Health Sciences Library at my University as a clerk in ILL. I think I had worked there about a week when my boss took me aside and suggested I get my MLIS. She made several good points including, “we will never be able to pay you enough until you do.”
What is a typical day like for you…
Sometimes that happens, but rarely do I get very far into the list before something comes up that I need to address. As an Electronic Services Librarian, I am responsible for the website, our public PCs, and a few other odds and ends. It is my job to be interrupted and I actually love responding to the demand of the moment. Getting through my list, however, remains a challenge.
What do you like about your job…
- The people! I work with an outstanding staff and we take our jobs, but not necessarily ourselves, very seriously. As a staff we support each other, I know I can call for help when I need it, and I am ready to pitch in when necessary too. We do a lot with a small, but dedicated staff.
- I also love our patrons — from law clerks to the self-represented appellants. Sometimes it is a little heartbreaking, but mostly it is very rewarding work.
- I also love challenging legal questions. Our law clerks know that we are here to help and their questions are often quite challenging. Typically, they’ve already done a lot of work before they contact us. We kick in high-gear when we get one of their requests and it is energizing and fun.
- I love tinkering with technology and learning from my mistakes. I am fortunate to work in an environment with leaders who encourage such things.
- Finally, I cannot leave this last one out because I think it is important to balance work with life. I love WHERE I work because I can ride my bike to and from work and I can run at lunch. These are little things that have a huge impact in my life.
What has been your biggest career challenge to date, and what are the steps you have taken to get through it…
I submitted my resume to the public library service, never having worked outside of an academic setting, but hoping there might be something I could do. I got a call from the Provincial Librarian who had reviewed my resume and wanted to offer me a position…as her assistant. Keep in mind that I had just completed my J.D. and I had about fifteen years of experience working in libraries, about ten of which was as a manager. She explained that she did not have any librarian positions open at the moment, but she really needed an assistant. She said something along the lines of “if you will take the job as my assistant for now, I will get you into a librarian position within the year.” I accepted the offer and she was true to her word.
It actually only took her three months. Maybe she did it quickly because I was a lousy assistant, but I am, to this day, grateful that she took a chance on me. I am also grateful that I did not let my pride get in the way of what turned out to be an amazing opportunity. As her assistant, I learned the overall structure of the library system and made connections that would serve me very well. I went on to serve as the Head of Public Services Development for the province and later as the Director of its the busiest (and BEST) library.
Had I said no to being an assistant, none of that would have happened.
How has the profession changed since you graduated…
Coming up with procedures that meet a multitude of needs and are workable on the ground is one of our biggest challenges and should be one of our greatest joys. If only our budgets were not decreasing as our demands increase.
What experiences at St. Kate’s (or otherwise) were most helpful in getting you to where you are today…
While the MLIS is absolutely essential, I believe my work experience is really what got me in the door for interviews. I started working in libraries as a student and I didn’t stop.
I also cannot underestimate the impact of mentors. I have had the opportunity to work with the best in the business and I am so grateful. If I start mentioning names, I am sure to leave someone out, but I value all of them, and I know I am better because of their examples.
What advice do you have for current LIS students…
- Work in a library, even if you have to volunteer.
- Learn from others: bosses, colleagues, patrons; all have something to teach you.
- It doesn’t hurt to be a little humble sometimes. To that end, admit your mistakes and learn from them. If you are not in an environment that allows you to do so, consider looking elsewhere. Life is too short not to work with awesome people.
- It is also a good idea to participate in your professional organization. If you want to get in good with people fast, volunteer to be the secretary or treasurer or help plan an event.
- Finally, find your way in YOUR OWN way. We need diversity in this profession and that thing, whatever it is, that is unique to you, has a place.
ITEM Fall 2017 Conference Recap
The Information and Technology Educators of Minnesota (ITEM) held their 2017 Fall Conference on October 6-7. It was attended by over 200 school media, information, and technology specialists. Of that 200, a dozen were St. Kate’s SLMS students.
There were 22 authors present, all based in Minnesota. There were also 21 exhibitors presenting their products. The theme of this year’s conference was “Future Ready Libraries” and the wide variety of sessions reflected that perfectly.
Friday morning started with a presentation from author and Macalester College professor, Duchess Harris. Harris gave a talk on the creation of her book Hidden Human Computers: The Black Women of NASA. She spoke about her special access to primary source materials at NASA in preparation for the book and her grandmother’s past as one of the Human Computers at NASA (formerly NACA). Towards the end of her session, Harris introduced us to her new project rolling out at the end of this year, the Duchess Harris Collection of nonfiction books from ABDO Publishing.
Friday’s sessions included topics like Digital Resources on a Shoestring Budget, Library of Congress Primary Sources, Teaching Social Justice, Storytelling to Empower Immigrant Students, Q&A with a Legislative Lobbyist, Library Design, Working with ELL Students, Student-Created Surveys, Free eBook options, LGBTQ+ 101, Student Writing, HyperDocs, ISTE Standards, Culturally Relevant Books, and an explanation of the St. Paul Public and School libraries’ LibraryGo Collaboration. The day concluded with the formal ITEM organization meeting.
During the breakfast on Saturday, a handful of St. Kate’s SLMS students were pleased to be joined at their table by outgoing American Association of School Libraries (AASL) President Audrey Church.
Ms. Church questioned the students about the Program and their experience at the conference as students. She also spoke a little about the new AASL standards being released in November, though she didn’t give away any specifics.
The keynote speaker on Saturday morning was author Kelly Barnhill– the most recent Newbery award winner.
Barnhill spoke of the importance of fairy tales –especially for middle grade readers. She is very passionate about this topic, and that level of reader, and it came through clearly in her speech. The speech was eloquent and beautiful, just like her writing.
Saturday’s sessions included such topics as Personal Health, Critical Thinking Using Videos, Computer Science, Storytelling, Fairy Tales, Maker Spaces, Classroom Innovation, Stop Motion Math, and a book talk on Diverse Books. Students from Chaska Middle School had a poster display on 3D printing.
Following the lunch break on Saturday, ITEM hosted an Unconference.
An unconference consists of sessions proposed and led by participants. It provides participants with opportunities to share the interesting thing they are doing and discuss issues. Sessions were on topics such as book talks, podcasts, college/career readiness, flipgrid, elementary to middle school transitions, doing more with less, mini/portable maker spaces, student news and green screens, fake news/digital citizenship, genrefication, ebooks, project Lead the Way, and 3D printing. There was also a maker playground where participants could try some maker tools and materials.
The Unconference was a great way to meet others in the field and hear about their experiences.
Laura Gingras and Lauren Cottrell
Students, MLIS Program
David Philip Norris (current student) has been chosen to deliver the December 2017 Student Commencement Speech. The committee selected David for his clarity of writing, the mission-centered content of his speech, and the inspirational tone of his delivery. Congratulations David on this huge honor!
Associate Professor, Sarah Park Dahlen was featured on Kerri Miller’s Round Table on November 3. Miller invited three avid readers into the studio to talk about how adults can follow Gene Luen Yang’s “read without walls” challenge. Dr. Dahlen joined Anitra Budd, a writer and visiting assistant professor at Macalester College, and Matt Keliher, manager at Subtext Bookstore in downtown St. Paul. The hour-long discussion “Read beyond your comfort zone: Titles to stretch your mind” is worth a listen.
Associate Professor and SLMS Coordinator, Heidi Hammond will be serving as moderator and panelist of Metronet’s Wind Down Book Awards Judges Panel. The event, titled …….and the winner is! What It’s Like to Be a Book Award Judge, will take place at the Andersen Library — see the Events section for more details.
Amanda Pruka (2015) recently started a new position as an instruction librarian at Saint Mary’s University, Minneapolis campus.
Congratulations to Tasha Nins (2017) on being selected as an ALA Emerging Leader.
Trish Vaillancourt (current student) and her husband, Mark, have been selected to co-present at the 2018 Library Technology Conference. Their presentation is on data visualization.
Leah Kodner (2013) is the new Catalog and Metadata Librarian for Hamline University Library. She and co-author Alexander Ingham have a database review article, PrivCo versus Crunchbase, published in the October 2017 Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, Vol. 22, Issue 3-4, 2017, 250-252.
Amy Vogel (current student) presented about school librarians working with ELL students at the October ITEM Conference.
Anna Zbacnik (2013) recently appeared in Publisher’s Weekly with author Julie Fogliano and illustrator Christian Robinson when they visited Brimhall Elementary in Roseville, Minn.
Sarah Thell (2015) started a new position as a technical writer at Ameriprise Financial Services, Minneapolis-St. Paul. Previously, she was marketing coordinator for KeyStone Search, Minneapolis, MN.
Associate Professors Kyunghye Yoon and Sarah Dahlen will be taking sabbaticals next year. More details to come in the January newsletter.
Seeking News From Our Students & Alums
Have a new position? Presented at a conference? Starting a new project? Serving on a committee? Hosting an event? We love to hear updates and news from you. E-mail our Social Media Assistant, Trish Vaillancourt at firstname.lastname@example.org with Subject Line: News in Brief. 50 words maximum.
<– That’s me, Trish Vaillancourt. I am in my second year at St. Kate’s and enjoying the program very much. It is exciting to be back at school after getting my undergraduate degrees last century. Please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions for the newsletter. Also, I like cats…a lot.