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Apr 6 / Christine Illichmann

Alternative Spring Break 2018 – MIT Libraries

Today’s post has been submitted by SIS student Rebecca Roper. Rebecca is sharing her 2018 Alternative Spring Break experience at the Institute Archives and Special Collections, part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries.

SIS Student Rebecca Roper at work, surrounded by VHS and U-Matic tapes

For my alternate spring break, I had the opportunity to go to Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries to work in their Institute Archives and Special Collections (IASC). I was incredibly excited to visit Boston and gain experience at a larger academic library and archives, since these are the areas I’m focusing on in my Master’s program at SIS.

My primary project was creating an inventory of a collection from MIT’s Office of Digital Learning (ODL). The Office had sent over plastic tubs full of a variety of media from early projects at MIT focused on media for instruction and learning. Many of the materials were from programs for foreign

language instruction, where others were filmed lectures on topics from economics to engineering. These dated to the 1980s to the early 2000s, and included a bunch of different media formats, including U-Matic and VHS tapes, videodiscs, open reel tapes, and floppy discs. My job was to figure out what was in the tubs and describe them in an inventory. I entered descriptive information into a spreadsheet as well as assigned an identifying number to each item, which I wrote on the label or exterior packaging of the media items in pencil. I took photographs of each item to create a visual inventory to go along with the spreadsheet. This process was tedious but the end result is very useful when multiple people are working on processing a collection, since it makes it clear which item is which.


A processed tub of open reel tapes and videodiscs.


Alongside my inventory project, I learned a lot about digital preservation from Nancy McGovern. We discussed issues surrounding digital preservation and how it differs from digital archives, and the projects she and MIT Libraries are working on to further digital preservation of their collections. I also worked with Kari Smith and Joe Carrano on digital forensics in the Digital Sustainability Lab. I learned how to use BitCurator and we were able to get information off of floppy discs, something I haven’t done since I was in elementary school! We also talked about web archiving and a few tools to use for that purpose. Throughout the week, I had the opportunity to meet with librarians and archivists from different areas of MIT Libraries to learn about the work they do, which was invaluable.

This was a wonderful experience (even with an unexpected snow day), and it came at the perfect moment as I prepare to graduate from SIS and enter the job market. I was able to gain practical experience working with audio-visual materials, as well as learn about different roles within university library and archives.





Apr 5 / Christine Illichmann

Alternative Spring Break 2018 – Maryland State Archives

Today’s post is written by SIS student Erin Zimmerman. Erin was a 2018 Alternative Spring Break Participant and spent the week at the Maryland State Archives.

Erin Zimmerman

Erin Zimmerman stands in front of the Maryland State Archives building.

My Alternative Spring Break assignment took me to the Maryland State Archives Imaging Services Department.  Having only touched on the topic of digitization in my coursework, I was very interested in seeing it put into practice.  I had participated over a decade ago in a project digitizing student records at the local university.  That experience had given me some idea as to what might be involved – feeding boxes of paper into a multi-feed scanner and looking at the results for imperfections.  Of course, I had romantic notions of handling brittle yellowed paper and preserving the handwritten documents for everyone to see, but as state archives are more of the official record keepers for the state, I wasn’t holding my breath.

I must admit that my week-long experience was better than I could have imagined.  We were given the opportunity to spend the week sampling several different job responsibilities and pieces of equipment.  We began by digitizing card catalog cards and marriage licenses from the 1950s.  This process was as I had envisioned – multi-feed scanners, checking the images for problems, renaming files, and uploading to the server.  I worked with 2 different scanners and picked up a lot of ideas for how to troubleshoot scanner issues.   We also went to a webinar with the staff and sat in on a lively conversation about quarantine procedures for newly acquired born-digital materials and the pros and cons of developing all software in-house as opposed to going with other vendors. Later, we got to use the Scan Master book scanner, which was roughly the size of a ping-pong table.  There we scanned a series of ledgers, a book, and even some letters from the special collections department.

We then spent some time with microfilm.  We saw how it was digitized, but spend more time looking at the resulting images of newspapers from the 60s and a series of cards from agency responsible for movie censorship, checking them for quality and adjusting the auto framing as needed.  We also saw how all the plats, land development maps, for the state of Maryland are processed and scanned.  Finally, we did some checked a collection of old photographs that had been digitized for contrast and added metadata to the images.  I suppose one of the most interesting aspect of the trip for me was my new respect for microfilm.  I had sort of categorized it as an outdated medium and given no thought to digitizing it.  Also, after a discussion in which one staff member referred to it as “the true archival medium”, have given it some thought and am inclined to agree.

Overall, we covered so much more than I thought possible in a week.  It was an amazing overview of all the different ways items can be digitized and all the work that goes into the process, so they can be made available and easily located by the public.  Everyone we worked with was very knowledgeable about their responsibilities and equipment.  They were also very welcoming and happy to share their experience with us.  This was an amazing way to spend my spring break.

Mar 30 / Christine Illichmann

Celebrate World Backup Day – 03.31.2018

It’s time for World Backup Day! That wonderful time where we remind those we love that data should be backed up – just in case! Is there any better way to show you care? 

Here are some gift ideas for World Backup Day – with all budgets in mind!

1 – Give the gift of an external hard drive or subscription to a backup cloud service. Who needs roses when you have peace of mind?

2 – Remind friends to back up phones, computers, and other technology like cameras and tablets. Back up all the technology!

3 – You might also want to encourage everyone to change their settings so that backups happen automatically. And if you’re especially tech-savvy, offer to help them change the settings, perhaps over a nice dinner!

4 – Set reminders on your calendar or smartphone that notify you weekly or monthly to do a data backup. This is the gift that keeps on giving.

5 –  Encourage your family and friends to take the World Backup Day Pledge!  “

“I solemnly swear to backup my important documents and precious memories on March 31st.”

Remind your loved ones that backing up their data will help them recover precious memories and information quickly! Data loss can happen in a number of ways:

  • Device Theft (it happens, unfortunately)
  • Device Damage (don’t try to pretend you haven’t spilled something on your phone)
  • Viruses (yikes, you clicked that link?)
  • Human Error (yes, you did just hit the delete button)

Spread the love this World Backup Day! And be sure to check out the official World Backup Day website at


Mar 7 / Allia McCoy

2018 Joint Conference of Librarians of Color – Travel Stipend!

What’s up SIS! This is Allia McCoy the Diversity GSA in the School of Information Sciences at Wayne State University. I have a scholarship to tell you about below!

Scholarships for Students: Current undergraduate and/or graduate Library and Information Science students are encouraged to apply for the 2018 Joint Conference of Librarians of Color to be held in Albuquerque, NM in September 2018. The selected students will be awarded travel stipends in the amount of $750 each. Registration will be waived. This is a wonderful experience for those interested in learning about library services to communities of color, and to network with professionals who serve those communities.


Allia L. McCoy

Graduate Diversity Assistant

School of Information Sciences

Wayne State University

Mar 7 / Allia McCoy

New SIS Diversity Graduate Student Assistant!

Hi my name is Allia McCoy and I’d like to introduce myself as SIS’s new Diversity Graduate Student Assistant! I graduated from Wayne State in 2015 with a B.A. in Media Arts and Studies. I’m pursuing an MLIS degree.I am interested in public libraries and how children learn how to read and gain literacy and stem skills via technology. I am hoping to focus on user experience and children’s services, where pedagogy and technology merge. I am passionate about youth services, as I am a mother myself. I have three children, a daughter who is 6 years old, and two sons who are 4, and 2 years old. My hobbies include writing (music, poetry, stories), reading, dancing and making jewelry and crafts, and of course playing with my kids.

My job is to inform and answer questions regarding Diversity and Inclusion in the school of Information Science. Through our outreach efforts we are increasing diversity with students from underrepresented backgrounds in our student body and in the field of Library and Information Science.I will post scholarship information as I receive it and helpful videos to make your life as a student and your matriculation easier as I navigate graduate school myself.I am looking forward to a great semester! It’s a great time to study information science! …#InformationIsLife!

Email me at

#AimHigher #Warriors

SIS Diversity Graduate Student Assistant Allia McCoy.

Feb 16 / Christine Illichmann

SIS Events Contribute to Student and Alumni Learning

The School of Information Sciences offers numerous opportunities for students and alumni to learn outside of the classroom and after graduation. A new line-up of events has recently been announced and the schedule is available below. If you missed the last couple of events, don’t fear! Recordings are available for you watch!

The January Career Advising Event featured SIS Career Advisor Kim Schroeder discussing the information management job market, with insights for job seekers interested in the field. Members of the recruiting and digital asset management teams for Quicken Loans joined the event and shared their perspective on information management careers.

The most recent SIS lunchtime webinar featured SIS faculty member Dr. Xiangmin Zhang and a panel of alumni including Laura Evans (Quicken Loans), Ben Noble (Ford Motor Company), and Maria Nuccilli (Wayne State University) discussing many aspects of user experience.

Upcoming SIS Events include:

February 21 – 11:45-1:00 PM 
Lunchtime Webinar: Death to Bunheads – How to Stay Relevant in Changing Times (RSVP)

March 19 – 4-6 PM
SIS Career Advising Session: Quicken Loans Data Analytics Center Tour (RSVP)

Nov 16 / Christine Illichmann

Information is…your new opportunity. Applications now being accepted for the Master of Science in Information Management program.

Information is…your new opportunity.

If you’re seeking a new career path, or simply want to expand opportunities in your current career, consider Information Management. Today’s information managers are in high-demand, mixing elements of computer programming, information science, and technology management to address needs that didn’t even exist ten years ago. The Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM) at Wayne State University offers the skills and training needed to put you at the forefront of this growing field.

“Roughly half of the jobs in the top income quartile — defined as those paying $57,000 or more per year — are in occupations that commonly require applicants to have at least some computer coding knowledge or skill…,” according to Catey Hill, Editor at Marketwatch (1).

The MSIM at Wayne State University can give you the computer coding knowledge you need to meet – and exceed – this skill requirement. Our fully web-based degree program offers a flexible schedule allowing you to work on your career goals while leading a busy life. And our in-state tuition policy applies to online students, making us one of the most affordable programs available.

Stand out from the crowd by specializing in one of five areas, including Software Tools, Web-based Information Services, Data Analytics, Health and Scientific Data Management, and User Experience. Find out more about the MSIM and the available specializations on our website.

Registration for Winter 2018 semester closes soon. Sign up to receive an information packet by email today and we can help you get started on the next steps. Complete the application process by December 8, 2017 and start classes in January 2018.


Nov 10 / Christine Illichmann

Student Allie Penn interns at CNN

SIS Student Allie Penn is currently an Editorial Research Intern for CNN in Atlanta, where she’ll be working until early December. We caught up with Allie and asked her for details on her work at CNN.

What are some of your typical day to day tasks there? 

A typical day starts with me working the reference desk with my supervisor Lindsey. The sort of reference work we do is usually any information relating to a particular story. CNN’s library is in-house only. Only in certain cases would you be able to make a reference request from outside the company. Some of the requests are more in-depth and some are simply quick contact requests. I’ve looked up court documents, statistics, other stories relating to a potential CNN story, and information regarding different individuals CNN would like to interview. From there I usually work on different projects that I am assigned. Most of them are updating statistics that CNN uses to write stories. A large part of what I do is work with what they call “Fast Facts,” which are just quick bios or timelines of different individuals and events. This helps when news stories break or individuals pass away. Depending on what is going on in the news cycle that day, it can be very busy or it can be quiet, but it never stays quiet for long.

Are you working on any fun projects you can share with the SIS community? 

I’ve gotten to work on a couple of cool projects while working at CNN. I think what is often more rewarding is when something you have worked on becomes part of the news. I have been able to do research contributing stories to Hurricane Maria, Irma, and Harvey. Additionally, I’ve completed research for stories focused on the tragedies that have occurred lately, such as the Las Vegas and New York attacks. I was also able to do some of the research on the Kevin Spacey allegations. This story in particular I, and the other librarians, completed lots of research for:

Is there anything that you’ve found new or surprising about the type of librarianship you’re involved in there? 

I think being a part of CNN is a great opportunity. They really operate on their own systems and a lot of their own rules. Using a unique in-house reference system allows me to develop my reference skills. These types of skills will be transferable to any future librarian or archivist position I have. Good reference skills are key in our line of work. Additionally, I love how quickly everything moves. You always have to be on the ball and quick to adapt. It can get pretty hectic quickly, the faster you move the better, but efficiency is key.

I am able to work in various areas and connect with the different librarians and archivists. CNN has its own methods of digitizing, selection, cataloging and indexing, and reference work, both for its video collections and for breaking news stories. It is great to be a part of something so relevant and important in today’s world as CNN.


Oct 30 / Kimberly Schroeder

How to Develop Your LinkedIn Profile

According to a 2015 Adweek article, 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn.   Having a great LinkedIn page is important not only for a career post-graduation, but also for internships and practicums.

Some of the offerings at SIS are “hot skills” as listed on the LinkedIn Blog.  Data mining, data visualization and interface design are listed as top skills to have.  Be sure to emphasize this if you want to work in this field, especially in non-library settings.

For library positions, be sure to note:

  • Customer service skills and any supervision, no matter the discipline show important management ability.
  • Coordination of volunteers is also highly valued as so many institutions utilize the people in their community.
  • Technology skills are also important so be sure to call those out.  Include everything you have been exposed to in class and out.
  • Ability to work independently and in committees is part of most employers’ wish lists.  Be sure to call out collaborative skills as well as independent ones(self-starting abilities).
  • Understanding searching and access makes for a solid employee but newer digital access skills are also of value.  It shows that you can see the big picture and fulfill patrons needs for information by packaging high demand information for easy access.

In the archival realm, be sure to list collections you have worked with, historical knowledge, and the core archival technologies that you use comfortably.

In digital curation, look to explain your problem-solving ability, technology skills, understanding of formats and metadata and current limitations and innovations of access and preservation.

For UX, you may need to show your analytical abilities with choosing the best path for site creation and understanding user needs.

No matter your concentration, do competitive research on your discipline in LinkedIn.  Use search terms to look for people that you are competing with or who have the job that you want.  Get clues from their path in order to develop your path.

Here is some quick advice on what you can do to improve your profile.  Remember that you want to paint a thorough picture of your skills and be easy to find.

  • Think about your most marketable coursework no matter your emphasis and include class projects. Include links to the projects if available.
  • Professional volunteerism counts! Include it in your profile.
  • Include a profile picture. According to a article your profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed with a picture.
  • Include tech skills as these are highly valued.
  • Fill in all sections so that your profile looks complete and you are not judged as overlooking or avoiding something.
  • If you have unique skills like a foreign language or advanced technology be sure to emphasize that.
  • Any publishing or presenting at conferences needs to be listed.
  • Get a professionally sounding email address that is not using an antiquated vendor like Yahoo or AOL. Use a personal one like Gmail.  In this discipline, you need to look on top of technology.
  • Get colleagues to recommend you in the Endorsements section. If you are really new to the field, have a few people write out a paragraph endorsement rather than just checking off your skills.  This will provide some content until you can get more skills checked off by colleagues.
  • Proofread carefully and have others proofread!
  • Check in at least once a week to your profile to keep everything current.
  • Post once a week as well. An article in the field or an update on an interesting project that you are working on will show your professional contributions.
  • Be sure to be involved in professional organizations and mention memberships and conferences attended.

Additional Resources (several articles)


Oct 27 / Christine Illichmann

SIS Distinguished Alumni Award winner Kraig Binkowski on art librarianship and his work at Yale

Kraig Binkowski Speech Photo

Kraig Binkowski (MLIS ’94) accepting the Distinguished Alumni Award at the SIS 50th Anniversary Celebration, September 2017.

Kraig Binkowski (MLIS ’94) is the 2017 recipient of the School of Information Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award. Kraig has served as the Chief Librarian of the Yale Center for British Art at Yale University since 2005. Previous art librarianship positions include Head Librarian of the Helen Farr Sloan Library at the Delaware Art Museum and Associate Librarian at the Detroit Institute of Arts. He is currently an Associate Editor for Art Libraries Journal.

What is a typical day like for you as Chief Librarian? Well, a typical day for me includes a lot of different activities which is the way I like it. Too often, a lot of meetings (museum and Yale Library), but also answering email, working with students and staff on their reference questions (the Library staff all rotate shifts at the reference desk, myself included), working with interns, student assistants, and library fellows on performing research in the library, and if I’m lucky, I work on collection development for the library. I also make time to work on my own research and to assist other library staff with theirs. I enjoy thinking about the library strategically and how to best meet the needs of our users, but admittedly, this isn’t a daily function of mine.

You are part of Yale’s personal librarian program, a more personalized one-on-one service that more academic libraries are utilizing. What has your experience with this program been like? How has it changed your work and interaction with students? I think it’s a great program and so very beneficial to the students. The resources and avenues for research can be very daunting and the library can really be an intimidating place – I love getting to know the students a bit and helping them get on the right path from the beginning. Here at Yale the students are supposed to go to their personal librarian for their first two years and then switch to a subject specialist in their major field, but I have many students who are comfortable coming to me with questions throughout their time here. Last year I had my first question from a past student who had graduated and was working at her first job.

What aspects of librarianship are you most passionate about and why? I think that public service and collection development are the two areas that I am most passionate about. Public service is our whole reason for being and in an academic environment, reference and teaching are things that we hold highest in our priorities. I feel all other aspects of librarianship feed into being able to help transfer information into knowledge. Collection development ensures that we have the most recent scholarship — and in the humanities — all the necessary scholarship going back in time, to meet the informational needs of our patrons.

You began your career as a librarian in 1994 and then went started in art librarianship in 1998. What would you say is the biggest change you’ve seen in the profession since that time? I would say that the proliferation of primary sources in digital format has really changed art librarianship and the way we teach how to conduct research in art history. And I include images of art objects in my definition of primary resources. It really is amazing to think of all that’s at a scholar’s fingertips now that used to be flung across the far reaches of the globe. Historical newspapers, archival collections, rare books, public art collections, ephemeral materials – so much is now available digitally. Unfortunately, the mass of materials available digitally makes it seem as though all of the pertinent material is available online, and that’s still far from the case.

Are there any trends you’re seeing on the horizon for art librarianship that you’re particularly excited about? Well, I do love the fact that research into works of art has become much more multidisciplinary – in any one semester I will have history, drama, literature, and even some of the sciences using the collections in addition to the history of art students. It certainly keeps it interesting from a reference and instruction point of view. And it helps us as librarians to think in more multidisciplinary terms, which is good.  And I do recognize a return to (or perhaps a more modern appreciation of) connoisseurship in art historical discourse, which I do appreciate as well.

As Associate Editor for Art Libraries Journal, what type of articles and information do you seek for publication, or wish you saw more of? What advice do you have someone who might want submit an article to Art Libraries Journal?  I think at Art Libraries Journal we try to maintain a balance of scholarly versus practical articles. Research-based articles and articles that help art librarians in the tasks they do on a day-to-day basis. I just wish I saw more submissions and queries about articles in general. I think if a librarian or library student has an idea or an inkling of an idea about a topic he/she would like to cover, then don’t hesitate to contact one of the editors – we are always happy to advise writers on submitting to ALJ.

What do you love about your job? In a general sense, I love my job because it always challenges me – I learn something new every day. Something new about the collections, about our patrons, about the institution, and in the field.  Art librarianship, in particular, allows me to connect with artwork and museum collections on a daily basis – and working at the YCBA allows me to experience one of the most beautiful architectural achievements each day when I arrive at work. How could I not love it?

What recommendations do you have for someone considering art librarianship as a career? I would recommend that anyone considering art librarianship as a career seek out art librarians of all types and from different size collections – museum librarians, in small and big institutions, academic art librarians and art school librarians, visual resource professionals and those in digital humanities — just talk to these librarians to see if your expectations for the field match actual experiences. It can be invaluable to have some insight and working knowledge of the field even before starting a masters program in library and information science. It can be beneficial to cater courses and coursework to the exact type of art librarianship you are most interested in, if possible.