SLIS and History graduate student Alexandrea Penn has been named as the winter 2017 Ronald Raven Annual Award Winner. This honor is awarded to students each fall and winter semester and consists of a tuition stipend and a semester-long internship at the Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs.
During the fall 2016 semester, Alexandrea began working alongside audiovisual archivist Deborah Rice at the Walter P. Reuther Library on the campus of Wayne State University. Alexandrea’s work has contributed to improvements in the organization and description of the Wayne State University Photograph collection in preparation for the university’s sesquicentennial celebration.
Originally from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Alexandrea moved to Detroit to pursue graduate studies in history and archival administration. She has previously worked at the Michigan History Center at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum and also volunteered for the Marquette Regional History Center. Alexandrea pursued available opportunities at the Reuther Library to further explore her interest in archives. As Alexandrea explained in her award application letter, “Working at the Reuther has enabled me to become involved in the daily workings of an archive. I am able to put what I am learning in the classroom directly into work, and vice versa.”
Alexandrea will continue her work at the Reuther throughout the winter semester.
Congratulations to Alexandrea on behalf of all of us at the School of Library and Information Science and thank you for your work at the Reuther!
At its meeting on January 22, 2017, the Committee on Accreditation (COA) of the American Library Association voted to grant continued accreditation status to the program leading to the degree of Master of Library and Information Science at Wayne State University’s School of Library and Information Science. The next comprehensive review visit is scheduled for fall 2023. We extend our thanks to everyone who participated in this process for all of your hard work. Many congratulations on reaching this important milestone!
2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the accredited program at Wayne State. In recognition of this important milestone, we are debuting the above logo that we will employ for the rest of 2017.
Stephen T. Bajjaly
Associate Dean and Professor
School of Library & Information Science
Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
ALA Student-to-Staff Program
Students may now apply to be selected to participate in the ALA Student-to-Staff Program during the 2017 Annual Conference to be held from June 22 to June 27 in Chicago, Illinois. ALA will provide free conference registration, housing (five nights), and a per diem ($200 total) in exchange for a total of 16 hours of work (typically four hours per day) during conference. The student should be available to work on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Students will receive a short questionnaire to help match them with appropriate ALA staff. Based on their assignment, students may be expected to perform a range of duties from clerical, to sales, to use of computers. The student will be responsible for travel to San Francisco and local travel expenses.
To qualify, the student must be a personal member of ALA at the time they submit their applications. Students who will graduate in May 2017 may apply. Students who have already participated in the program are not eligible. Service to the Wayne State University ALA Student Chapter will be considered, but any eligible student may apply since the WSU Chapter does not require an official membership..
If you wish to be considered, you should send a brief application to SLIS at email@example.com. The deadline for the application is Monday, November 21, 2016 at noon. The application should include:
- Your name
- Contact information
- Status in the program including number of credit hours completed and GPA
- Your ALA Membership Number
- A short statement of between 50 and 250 words about why you should be selected to represent Wayne State University
Since there are more accredited ALA library and information science programs than available slots, there is a small chance that ALA will not select the nominee from Wayne State University, but this is unlikely since the School will submit its nomination earlier than usual this year.
To learn more about ALA’s Student to Staff Program, click on the website below.
The Smithsonian Gardens provides an exceptionally well-rounded array of experiences in its intern program thanks to the wide diversity of services it offers to the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum complex. Interns will learn skills in a broad range of horticultural endeavors from SI’s expert professional staff and can provide a strong practical background to emerging professionals hoping to enter the public gardening world.
We accept current and recently graduated undergraduate and graduate students studying horticulture, landscape architecture, museum studies, or other related fields. Selection is based on both an evaluation of the applicant’s application and available positions.
Applications for internships should be received no later than the dates listed below.
Winter/Spring Internships: December 1
Summer Internships: February 1
Fall internships: May 15
Requirements for applying to the Smithsonian Garden intern program:
Submit an on-line application
Two letters of recommendation
Essay describing background, interest in field, career goals and chosen project.
To apply for an internship, applicants must create an account and submit an application online to the Smithsonian Online Academic Application System (SOLAA) at https://solaa.si.edu .
Further details about the internship and how to apply can be found on our website at http://www.gardens.si.edu/get-involved/internships.html .
We’d appreciate if you could forward this information to any students who may be interested an internship with Smithsonian Gardens!
Office: 600 Maryland Avenue SW, Suite 3300, Washington, DC 20024
Mailing: PO BOX 37012, Capital Gallery 3300, MRC 506, Washington DC 20013-7012
No matter the type of information job that you are seeking, the field has some basic recommendations for cover letters.
First, examine the job posting and dissect it. Look at what skills and traits seem to be the central focus. Once you look at the top five or so, chose two or three skills/traits that are also your strongest. Focus your letter on those skills and build your narrative in support of those aspects.
Because the discipline often looks for such a wide variety of skills, you can not address everything in a cover letter, so try and focus on the institution’s most important skills that also match your abilities.
Selling your strengths is important and blanket statements fall short. It is not convincing to say, “I have strong people skills.” The statement needs support. In what ways are you good with people? Give examples. Think of anecdotes that illustrate real situations that show your skill.
For example “Your job posting cites that you are looking for someone with strong people skills. I have six years experience in customer service. In this capacity I have often solved tough problems such as…… and I worked with the customer by….”
Professionals in the field often comment about limitations that they see in cover letters. Below are some tips from potential employers.
Nancy Bartlett, Associate Director, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan gives this recommendation:
“A good cover letter tells a compelling story and demonstrates equal measures of passion and results. A good letter does not simply repeat a resume in narrative form. It instead matches the applicant’s qualifications with the essential needs of the posting. It convinces the reader that this applicant has the skills, education, and life experience to enrich the institution and accomplish the work required.”
SLIS Alumni, Cathy Russ, Director of Troy Public Library, breaks down her advice into two clear categories:
- Please pay attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, mechanics. If you have a sloppy cover letter or resume, I am going to think you will do sloppy work on the job.
- You do not have to give me your life story in your cover letter—save something for the interview! I would like to know what you are most proud of, what you think should be highlighted. The cover letter should be no more than one page.
- Be familiar with forms of address, i.e. “Dear Ms. Russ,” and show appropriate respect. I get “Dear Cathy Russ” a lot and it’s just weird.
- The best cover letter is one where we get a sense of who you are. Don’t be afraid to be you—just be the best version of you! The best cover letters I see are the ones where I feel like I’ve gotten to know the person from tone, style, etc.
- I love when people talk about what they are proud of, what they’ve accomplished, what they hope to do, what they enjoy. It feels so positive and also gives me a sense of the person.
- The best cover letters/resumes are focused and it is clear that the applicant knows what he or she wants, not just the job but that you want to be a Youth Services Librarian.”
Developing the terminology for describing your skills can be a challenge. Consult a thesaurus or a solid career building site. Look at this one for a start :
As a summary, be sure to include:
- Be concise but spend a few sentences on each of the skills/traits that you have chosen to highlight.
- Include some reference to the institution and its accomplishments, trends, publications, grants received, something that shows that you are aware of their organization.
- Express why you want to work there, specifically.
- Close the letter professionally and mention your hope to further discuss the position.
Feel free to contact your Career Advisor for one-on-one assistance.
Kim Schroeder at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the farm country of Michigan’s “thumb”, the Caro Area District Library’s Seed Lending Project, now in its 4th season is steadily taking root. The program was initiated by SLIS alum Melissa Armstrong, MLIS ’10, the library’s Assistant Director. Though first introduced to seed saving by her grandmother a long time ago, the idea to implement such a program at her library came to Armstrong when she participated in a webinar in Iowa (through the Seed Savers Exchange) that gave information on seed sharing.
The program cost very little money to start, since most of the seeds are donated by the local seed exchange for free. Armstrong also plants and harvests seeds in the one square-foot garden located in the library’s backyard. She said it provides a good break in her work day.
All of the seeds are heirloom seeds and open pollinated seeds. “These aren’t the kind of seeds you get from Walmart,” notes Armstrong. For example, one type of seed available for exchange is Blue Jade Sweet Corn from 200 years ago or longer.
The library keeps the seeds directly on the floor where books are located. Patrons can fill out a piece of paper labeling what they are “borrowing.”
In the first year of the program the library had a “Seed-Pass out” where a local gardener came in to talk to the community about seed sharing.
In the second year of the program, Armstrong worked with the Michigan State University Extension office, which serves 12,000 people, to arrange additional assistance with the program. They came into the library and taught classes on topics such as, canning, composting, cooking and bee keeping. This was a free service the library offered to the community since MSU provided the speakers at no charge. A class in August covered “How to Put Your Garden to Bed.” Armstrong said that the classes always have good number of people participating.
If someone were interested in starting a seed exchange program in their library, Armstrong advises them to start by visiting the website seedsaverexchange.org and by viewing the webinars for the Seed Savers Exchange at: https://www.youtube.com/user/SSEHeritageFarm.
Overall, seed saving provides a good opportunity to “bond with the community, reach out and network,” Ms. Armstrong said.
Armstrong will share her knowledge of seed libraries at the Michigan Library Association Conference in October 2016 in a presentation called “Select, Sow, Share” – Seed Libraries for Community Engagement and Wellness. She will be part of a panel with her co-worker Mary Russell of Caro Area District Library and Tamarack District Library, and organic farmer and heirloom seed enthusiast Ben Cohen. They will answer the “root” question: why have a seed library? Additionally, they will share best practice tips, program tools, and practical expertise, and describe the many ways in which their programs have benefited both the library and the community.
600 miles south, SLIS alum Katherine Bryant, MLIS ’10, coordinates the Seed Exchange Program at the Bellevue Branch of Nashville Public Library where she is the Branch Manager.
A former volunteer with WSU’s SEED Wayne with a longstanding interest in issues of food justice, Bryant’s interest was sparked when she found that a lot of other US public libraries were starting seed exchange programs. She began planning to implement the program at her library in 2013. The seed exchange program took off in early spring of 2014.
“The goal of the program is to get people gardening and helping them to develop self-sufficiency by growing their own food,” Bryant said.
Bryant started by soliciting seed donations from local farmers and national seed companies. For the last 2 years they have purchased some of the seeds because donations from the community members that borrow the seeds have been slow.
The seed exchange works by allowing patrons with Nashville Public Library cards to “check out” a packet of seeds. The seeds are not actually catalogued or coded though. A Google form is used to keep track of what kind of seed has been borrowed. Patrons are not required to bring seeds back.
Some of the programming for the seed exchange include: seed starting, how to save seeds, fall gardening, container gardening, bee keeping, composting, etc. The programs are led by local county Master Gardner’s Group, which is an organization that provides volunteer services centered on informing the public in the area of residential and consumer horticulture. The organization offered to facilitate 2 free programs each month out of 10 months of the year.
The program has not changed much since it started. However, at the end of this fall, they will have a season wrap up, which will include a session dedicated to improvements and new ideas for the program.
The programming always gets lots of participation from the community, to date boasting over 550 total attendees. Overall, the seed exchange program has been very successful with over 1,100 people having “checked out” seeds and over 8,000 packets of seeds have been “checked out.”
If a library wanted to start a seed exchange program, Bryant says, “they should start by surveying the community to see if it is something that the community wants and/or needs.” Next, she said she would find people who are enthusiastic and passionate about gardening to support the program. Currently she and her staff along with other librarians do the work of sorting and packaging seeds.
In June 2015 Bryant shared details of Nashville’s program at the Allied Media Conference which is held, coincidentally, on Wayne State’s campus right across from the Kresge Library where she had once taken LIS classes. Her presentation, Public Libraries & Food Justice: Plant Seeds of Success, argued that libraries should “join the fight for food justice and sustainable agriculture.”
This past June I completed a two week fellowship at the Institute of Jazz Studies (IJS) at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ. Every summer, IJS recruits three MLIS graduate students with an interest in archives and music to be a part of their Archival Fellowship Program, which was established in 2011 to support archival career development, as well as to promote diversity in the archival field. As an avid jazz fan and aspiring music archivist, I am very interested in working at a music archive once I graduate, so this was an amazing opportunity to be able to intern at IJS since it specializes in jazz scholarship. During the fellowship, two other fellows, myself and the IJS archivists processed a collection belonging to jazz pianist Andrew Hill.
Hill was a jazz pianist during the 1960s, and made a resurgence on the music scene during the late 90s and early 2000s before passing away in 2007. His widow Joanne Hill donated the collection to IJS to be made available to researchers. The items in his collection included professional and personal items collected throughout his lifetime including news clippings, correspondence, honorary degrees from various colleges, photos, awards and sheet music. After the processing took place, we ended up with 27 boxes of material. We also created the finding aid for the collection, which is titled the “Guide to the Andrew Hill papers, music and audiovisual recordings, 1956-2011.” Each of the fellows worked on a portion of the finding aid and used the EAD finding aid software Oxygen to code the document so it could made available online. I had previously learned about Oxygen and EAD in my Electronic Archives class so it was very cool to be able to get some hands on experience using the software. We also created an online exhibit of the collection using Omeka, which is an open source web-publishing platform that allows libraries, museums, and archival institutions to create web exhibitions of their collections.
In addition to working on the collection, we took field trips to other area archival institutions.Some of the places we visited included the The New York Public Library Archival Processing Center, the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center and the National Jazz Museum of Harlem. We were given private tours of their facilities and learned more about their collections. My favorite trip out of the bunch was visiting the Louis Armstrong House Museum and Archive. The Louis Armstrong Archive is located at Queens College, so we were given a tour of the archive by archivist Ricky Ricardi, and we toured Armstrong’s house which is located in Corona Queens.
Completing the IJS fellowship at Rutgers was an amazing experience and one that I will forever be grateful for. I learned so much about processing and the steps it takes to make a collection available to users. Working on the Andrew Hill Collection was great, and it really gave me the opportunity to process a larger collection, which I had never done before. I learned a lot about Hill and quickly became a fan of his work, which was very innovative.
The IJS Fellows program really gives graduate students the opportunity to be archivists for two weeks and get a real sense of the day to day tasks of the profession. The IJS staff is awesome and really made me feel welcome and a part of the team. I also developed some great friendships with the other fellows and am so thankful that I was able to take advantage of this great opportunity.
For more information about the program and the 2016 IJS fellows, check out the Rutgers University Libraries news article below:
The Andrew Hill finding aid at Institute of Jazz Studies:
In looking at your résumé, it is important that you remember that the reviewer
(whether a person or a computer) is looking to understand what skills you bring to the position. A bullet point listing of duties at a job does not differentiate you enough from others.
Think about who you are. Have you been given increasing responsibility? Have you proposed process improvements? Have you volunteered in the community? Have you managed volunteers or events? Have you handled a problem patron?
Think about what your MLIS or Graduate Certificate gives to you? Is there a key student project or paper that fits in with the potential job? Is there a link to a project that you can include? Are there niche courses that would differentiate your skills for that particular job? Have you written a process manual? Have you evaluated a new technology?
Think about the technologies in which you are most competent. List everything that you have been exposed to on every level. Grade your comfort level as you would a foreign language. For instance, you may have basic knowledge of DSpace or Millennium but feel advanced in HTML or Omeka.
Think about your other life experiences and what skills they bring to this job. Were you in retail? Then you may have a strong customer service background. Were you a community activist? That shows strong community involvement. Were you a teacher? That shows an ability to instruct patrons. Were you a computer technician? That shows an ability to problem solve technology.
Most Common Weaknesses:
1) Résumé written for past careers
Your résumé needs to show your information skills now. You can present past jobs but re-write them to emphasize the information skills that you utilized then. You want to build your case as an information professional.
2) Résumé lacking commitment to community or profession
You need to be involved in conferences, student groups, regional professional groups, etc. Get involved in committee work, publish a small article in a regional newsletter or submit a research poster proposal to a conference. Work with a colleague and write a full article. Do a survey and publish the results. Show your interest in making the field better.
Common résumé questions:
1) Can a résumé go to a second page?
Yes! If you look at the complexities of job postings in our field, it is necessary to cover extensive skills.
2) Should I apply if I don’t meet all the criteria?
If you have about 85% of the skills, then apply. With the complex postings it is unlikely an institution will find the right person with all of the skills so focus on your strengths and apply.
3) How far back in my chronology should I go?
There is no universal answer for this. It depends on how you can relate that experience to the current job posting. You can skip some jobs that are not as directly reflective of the information skills for a position. Feel free to note a really key skill from an older position. Remember that the employer wants to know what you offer for this job and some other positions may not be relevant. Include what makes sense for this job.
4) I have a diverse background will it look like I am undependable?
In this case, you may consider a skills based résumé which focuses on your depth of skill regardless of job title or discipline.
Here are some examples of this type of résumé.
Feel free to set up an appointment with Career Advising to help with job application materials or for more information look to the Career Advising page:
I have been exposed to the profession in different ways. First, as a library user and then as a graduate of the WSU LIS School I saw the skills needed for the work that we do. When I became a librarian and archivist myself and hired many of our graduates I better understood the customer service aspect. Now in providing Career Advising for the last few years, I see the struggle that most of us have with job hunting.
There seem to be certain trends in the way people apply for jobs:
- The Worrier – This is characterized by anxiety and a determination to research every possible circumstance in which they may be rejected. Typical comments are “I am probably not qualified for this but..”, “I have not heard anything from my application, I must need to re-do my resume.”, or “Why didn’t they call me for an interview? It must be my cover letter!” This method indicates a need to take time to better understand what you have to offer. From there you can develop your skillset to understand what you should be applying for and increase your chances of a perfect match.
- The Overconfident Blamer – “They obviously have overlooked my resume, I will call them.” “There must be something wrong with their email/phone/etc.”, “I don’t have the skills that they need but I can do the job. Why haven’t they called me?” In this economy, you need to be a “can-do” person that is agreeable, positive and skilled. You cannot shotgun job applications. Narrow your search to what you can match point by point. Overconfidence without proof of the ability will waste both your and the potential employers’ time.
- The Overachiever – This can be an asset to a certain level. Sometimes people use this as a way to paralyze their job search. They research institutions, employers and trends so thoroughly that they never feel done. They also might tweak their resume and cover letters so often it is hard for them to actually get to the step to send them.
Taking some workshops and meeting with mentors or Career Advisors can help to waylay your fears.
In order to move past a lack of confidence and/or knowledge, below are some thoughts about how to successfully sell yourself. There are some really key things to consider as you design your job hunt, cover letters, portfolios and resumes. Note that I did use the word “design”. This is the same activity as a corporation designing its communication message to sell it new product or service.
Think of yourself as a brand. What are your best selling points? What can you do? How would you accomplish tasks? What do you bring to the existing team?
Do not focus on the negative. How often have you seen a successful marketing campaign with the motto “Buy my product because the other one is worse?” Be sure to develop your communication in a manner that defines you as a positive force.
Many students and alum feel uncomfortable with “bragging” about their skills but this is a backwards perception. A potential employer is not psychic. They have not lived in your shoes and they know absolutely nothing about your abilities. You have to educate a potential employer about where you have been, what you learned, how you handled yourself and where you want to go. This is similar to the basics of journalism which is the how, what, why, when and where.
As mentioned in our Career Fair earlier in 2011, you can not “sell” yourself by issuing a boisterous line. It has to be backed up by concrete examples of how you tackled a problem, learned a new skill, resolved a patron complaint, etc. Think about how your life experiences have formed you as a potential employee. What value can you offer this institution? How can you give them examples of other situations that helped to develop your skills to achieve a goal?
Remember that a lot of your skills from other professions can be portable and of value. Customer service is very portable to archives and library science. We are a service profession. If you can masterfully deal with people, that is of great value. If you have management, education or technology experience that is all valued. If you look deep within your experiences you can develop a list of valuable skills that you offer.
The other advantage of examining your life experiences, is that it will increase your confidence. This will show in the execution of your cover letters, resumes and interview. It will help you to think about how you want to present yourself and define your message to answer “Why do I want to hire you?”
The Imaging Science and Technology (IS&T) Archiving Conference is annually held in various destinations throughout the world, bringing together “an international community of imaging experts and technicians as well as curators, managers, and researchers from libraries, archives, museums” (as cited in the Preliminary Program). This year, the National Archives hosted the conference in Washington, DC, and the program focused on aspects of the digitization of cultural heritage and archiving. The Preliminary Program also explains that, “The conference presents the latest research results on digitization and curation, provides a forum to explore new strategies and policies, and reports on successful projects that can serve as benchmarks in the field.”
I was given the opportunity to present a paper I wrote focusing on the Wellcome Library, located in London, UK, where I studied last summer. I was selected to be a part of the Interactive Paper presentations. Not only was this an outstanding professional experience, it was opportune timing to network and meet other information professionals as I was graduating this May and entering into the job market. I designed a poster for the conference and also gave a brief PowerPoint presentation to conference attendees.
The conference began with short courses on Tuesday, April 19th, which consisted of lectures, demonstrations, and discussions to provide a brief overview of topics such as computations photography techniques, scanner and camera imaging performance, program management of digitization and curation for cultural heritage professionals, fundamentals of image and video compression, special imaging capture and processing, assessing formats for preservation and use of web archives, and digital collection development.
On Wednesday, April 20th, I was scheduled to give my Interactive Paper presentation: Going Digital at the Wellcome Library: “The Evolution of Digital Imaging and Innovation.” I was one of twelve Interactive Paper presenters. Following the presentations, there was an Interactive Paper session and exhibition, where I stood by my poster, met other professionals, and explained my work. During this time, I was thrilled to meet Dave Thompson, head of digital projects at the Wellcome Library. He was appreciative of my research and emphasized that it is important to bring awareness of where the digital “evolution” began to better understand how best to direct it in the future. Other lectures were given after the paper exhibitions that covered advanced imaging techniques, asset management, and preservation formats and frameworks.
The following day, April 21st, additional lectures discussed imaging standards and quality assurance, strategies and workflows, and dissemination and use. In the afternoon, the conference organized behind-the-scenes tours. I had the opportunity to see the work that goes into the preservation department at the National Gallery of Art in order to make digital representations of paintings as close to the originals as technologically possible.
Finally, on Friday, April 22nd, the lectures in the morning were more closely related to my area of interest, covering metadata standards and implementation. The afternoon focused on image color science and analysis tools and the role of digital collections in scholarly communication. Other highlights from Friday include a job offer from the Defense Imagery Management Operations Center (USA). I was invited to lunch and spoke with Julia Hickey, an archivist from Defense Media Activity.
Overall, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience and I am profoundly grateful for Wayne State University’s generous support in making this trip a possibility.