I completed my internship during my last semester (Winter 2017). I originally planned to intern just with the Grove Family Library in Chambersburg, PA, which is part of the larger Franklin County Library System (FCLS). I did spend some time at Grove with the director and staff there, but I think a majority of my time ended up being spent with the Processing department, learning about cataloging and processing from the Technical Services Manager. I was able to catalog new items from start to finish, import records from OCLC, process new items, apply barcodes, print call numbers, etc. I loved Processing and wished I had paid better attention to my cataloging class. I was also able to spend time with the Director of Development and attend fundraising and campaign meetings. One of the System libraries was undergoing a massive renovation and expansion, and I was able to attend a construction meeting with the Executive Director and tour the construction site. I am just now realizing how essential my internship was to bringing this job opportunity into my life. I was told several times during my internship that there was no room for me in the budget, so I didn't really expect a job offer to happen, especially not in the way it did. Apparently, networking matters, and so do impressions. I must have done something right or well during my internship for them to consider me for this position months later.
I graduated in May (2017) and continued to work my full time job in Personnel at Walmart. I so appreciate the regular emails I received from the Department with various job opportunities and hiring announcements. I applied to several different positions that interested me (some from the department emails, others found elsewhere), although I knew deep down they weren't the right path for me. I was at least motivated and encouraged by the frequency of the emails and the urgency in some of the messages - there are definite career opportunities available. In July, I was literally inspired to quit my job. That might sound strange to some, but there's no other way to describe it. I didn't have a library job yet, had no promising applications submitted, and not much to fall back on if I didn't find something soon. I'm not the biggest risk-taker and I was terrified but completely calm about potentially being unemployed however briefly. I just hoped that leaving Walmart would provide the right motivation to seriously apply for jobs that would allow me to use my education. I agreed to remain in my position until I found my calling or they found my replacement. Around the end of August, I was encouraged by the director of the Grove Family Library to at least submit an application to the Franklin County Library System, and she strongly encouraged me to submit it that week. I also applied to a library in Maryland that would pay really well but require a much longer commute each day. I was called by the FCLS HR Manager to arrange an interview and the next day was contacted to interview for the Maryland job. I interviewed for both, didn't really feel great about the Maryland interview, and couldn't even imagine what position the Franklin County Library System would offer. Obviously I chose the FCLS opportunity - to be the director of the Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library, the third largest branch in the Franklin County Library System - and I knew it would provide the best experience for me while still allowing me to serve in a local community (with a shorter commute) and put my education into practice. This has been such a blessing ... so many additional things have happened that remind me I'm not completely in control, that someone else has a plan for my life, and I feel like I've been guided to the right place, however undeserving I may feel. A few examples: I was supposed to be part-time for the first year because of budget constraints, but after an idea from one of my staff members was able to switch to full-time beginning this month; I was planning to stay on part-time at Walmart for benefits and to make up the difference with additional part-time hours, but was able to officially leave Walmart at the end of October and sign up for health benefits with the library system beginning in December.
I know that I still have a lot to learn. My education and previous work experience has provided a wonderful foundation. To be in a position to apply (literally) everything I learned during my graduate studies has been completely unexpected but is most welcome. When I'd tell people I was studying library science, I received a lot of blank stares and a few responses of "that's a thing?" Information and library science is indeed "a thing" and, in spite of what uninformed others may say, career opportunities abound in the field. There are challenges too, and I wouldn't expect anyone else's career path to look like mine, but I'm so grateful for the education I have received and this opportunity to learn and grow in this community.
When Julie Edholm sits down to work as a metadata cataloger for the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, she describes and assigns subject headings to items in the Winchester Repeating Arms collection and Winchester Publication collection at the Cody Firearms Museum, Cody, Wyoming.
She was offered a job with the Buffalo Bill Center after completing an internship there, part of her coursework in the online Master of Science in Library Science program at Clarion University. The internship, during which she worked with the library's archivist to process the MS 50 Cowboy Songs and Range Ballads collection and established proficiency in cataloging, brought into focus concepts that she had learned in class.
Edholm's path to her career isn't dissimilar to that of a cowboy in the wild west: long, slow, winding and with many stops. She grew up in Orem, Utah, and graduated from Brigham Young University in 1991 with a bachelor's degree in music. Her instrument of emphasis was piano, but she also played harp and clarinet. After graduating, Edholm worked in customer support for WordPerfect Corporation and played harp at events. She left WordPerfect when her first child was born.
As Edholm and her husband's family grew to include eight children, Edholm focused on being a full-time mom. She continued to play harp at events and taught music lessons, but most of her activities centered around her children. For 12 years, she volunteered, telling stories at the local public library's storytime. She loved it. She applied for a paid position to supplement the family's income when her husband lost his business due to economic downturn.
"I started working at the library 10 to 12 hours a week and, over the course of five
years, I moved up from a library assistant to a community relations specialist to,
finally, a full-time associate children's librarian," she said.
That's when she started to think about going back to school for her master's degree in library science. With a full-time job and young children at home, Edholm didn't think it was a good time. That changed when her husband was offered a job in rural Wyoming, and the family moved.
"My youngest was in school, I didn't have to work, and I thought it was the perfect time to go back to school," Edholm said. "I wanted to be more marketable, and I knew a master's degree would give me that extra edge that experience alone would not."
The nearest school that offered a master's in library science was 400 miles away, so she began to research online options.
"I researched around 10 schools that were accredited," she said. "I chose Clarion
because I did not have to travel there at all, and it was less expensive than the
others. I applied and was accepted for the spring semester of 2016."
Initially, Edholm said it was easy to get her homework done while her kids were at school. She took on part-time work, though, and her studying schedule changed to Mondays and Saturdays, plus lunch hours at work. The flexibility of online education allowed her to work, be involved in her children's activities and in her community, and pursue her master's degree.
"It was a very busy time for me and my family, but they were really supportive, and
we all survived," Edholm said.
She also found the Clarion faculty to be very supportive.
"During this time, my mother passed away in the middle of a summer term, and my professor, Dr. Aristeguieta, was very accommodating, as I had to travel to the funeral in a different state," she said.
That same level of academic support was evident.
"My professors were excellent in communicating and joining in the discussion boards, having live lectures and responding promptly to my emails," Edholm said. "I felt like they wanted me to succeed."
A veteran and mother of four, Linda Christian returned to school and earned her MSLS in 2012 through our distance-learning program. Recognizing a deficit in library services in the rural mountain regions of her home state, Linda was inspired by Clarion’s Dr. Bernard Vavrek and the Center for the Study of Rural Librarianship to direct her Master’s level research toward sociological factors affecting librarianship in rural America. A direct result of her studies at Clarion included the creation of an educational library initiative called The Settlement Library Project. Through this venue, Linda serves the online library community by advocating for inventive outreach and expanded non-traditional services. As a practicing certified technical writer and copy editor particularly concerned with issues affecting small town and solo librarians, she has written topics of interest since 2009. Linda’s recent manuscript, entitled “A Passion Deficit: Occupational Burnout and the New Librarian: A Recommendation Report,”was published by the Southeastern Library Association (SELA) in their juried quarterly electronic journal: The Southeastern Librarian (SELn). The article is available here under Back Issues—Select an issue: Vol. 62, no. 4-Winter 2015, and an accompanying PowerPoint presentation is available on SlideShare.
The following Success Story features a recipient of the 2018 I Love My Librarian Award. Two of the 2018 recipients were graduates of Clarion University's Master of Science in Library Science.
I absolutely relish sleuthing out information and love, love, love to help people. That is librarianship in a nutshell. I am blessed to be part of this vocation!
I was a member of a Laura Bush Scholars cohort at Clarion. As a requirement for our M.S.L.S. study, we were required to understand and produce research and publish in a journal. This served our cohort well.
I now am a college librarian, as are several others of the Clarion Laura Bush Scholars; we also have librarians from our group who are excelling as directors and librarians in successful public libraries. Our Clarion experience and education was a great foundation for our work.
We had knowledgeable faculty members in the Library Science discipline who designed our specialized curriculum and had high expectations for our cohort; we benefitted from that (although at the time, it seemed daunting. lol). The members of our cohort developed a very strong bond with each other; even today, the ties we formed through our Clarion experience remain. We are each other's cheerleaders and valued consultants in our field still. In the passing years, I have seen Dr. Linda Lillard several times. She is so encouraging; it is always a lovely experience.
The M.S.L.S. at Clarion allowed me explore new paths and conduct my job at a higher level. That means I have more in my tool kit to offer those visiting the library! For that, I am truly grateful.
Clarion University M.S.L.S. alum Maisam Nouh grew up in Alexandria, Egypt, where the oldest library once stood.
This rich environment of historical sites, which also happened to be full of small libraries and bookstores, fostered Nouh's love of reading and libraries.
"As a small child we would go to one library and my friends and I would love to put books in order and just sit and read."
The love of reading turned into a passion for library science in general.
"I was a reader, especially mysteries and thrillers, but I also loved the library. During the summer of entering 10th grade, I started volunteering for the summer reading program and I just fell in love with the library. I remember I told my mom one time that one day I will be behind one of those desks working."
Her love of libraries led her to Clarion M.S.L.S. program and fondness for the behind-the-scenes work of the library.
"I love everything that has to deal with the back end of the library. Especially as IT, I feel we are the backbone of the entire organization. From managing the ILS to the discovery platform that patron uses."
Her interests were highlighted in her master's work at Clarion.
"I did an internship as part of my master's and it was a digital archive project of our local collection in the library. I really wanted to pursue that and get my Ph.D. in archiving because of how much I enjoyed it."
Her dreams certainly have taken flight. Nouh is the IT supervisor at the Ferguson Library in Stamford, Connecticut. Her job includes being the Integrated Library System administrator, working with cataloging and acquisitions as well as other departments like reference, and circulation.
Nouh also loves how the library collaborates with the community including schools. "I truly believe that we are the heart of the community and we are the glue that connects everyone together."
As an online student, Nouh credits the faculty with helping her achieve her goals.
"The biggest impact was the faculty. I did my entire degree online because I was working full time and had a toddler and a baby at home. The professors were very understanding and knew that we were juggling a lot of hats while working on getting our degrees."
Nouh was featured in the Library Journal's May edition as one of 2020's Movers & Shakers.
I obtained my master's degree in library science. I was working part time at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, and knew immediately that this was something I could build into a career.
Currently, I'm the library director for the Carteret County Public Library System. Previously, I was the Library Director in Caldwell County, North Carolina. Before the move into administration, I was the Youth Services Manager at DC Public Library's main library. I also worked as a library associate for the Enoch Pratt Free Library and a Children's Librarian at the Washington County Free Library, both in Maryland.
There is a lot of debate currently in our profession about the importance of a master's degree. Many cite hands on experience as the key to a successful library career, but I think it's a careful balance. I knew immediately once I started working in a library that this was the career for me. But I also knew that if I wanted to make it my career that I would have to further my education.
My degree program at Clarion enhanced the hands on experience I was getting actively working in a public library environment. But the "science" of library science is where the degree comes into play. Cataloging specifically opened my eyes to the importance of information science. There is so much information available in a well-crafted catalog entry, and I wasn't aware of it! The ethics of librarianship are what are finely tuned in library school. Being a good library director happens when you have the practical experience of front line work, coupled with the academic knowledge gained through the MLS program.
I was a distance learner and while that is second nature now, in 2008 it was almost unheard of. Only a handful of MLS distance learning programs were ALA accredited, a must for anyone that wants to establish themselves as a professional librarian. I was working full time, so attending traditional classes was out of the question for me. If it weren't for Clarion's innovative program, I'm not sure how I would have gotten my library career off the ground.
My course work involved a specialized program that laid out my schedule for me in advance. I knew every class I would be taking when I applied to the program. It was great to be able to see that entire plan mapped out in advance. I really enjoyed my classes, I remember my coursework and assignments being very practical. While there was some theory and academic writing, most of my assignments are things that I could immediately turn around the apply to my work, creating bibliographies and libguides, original cataloging, subject guides, etc. It was a fantastic program. I've recommended Clarion to others that want to make librarianship their career, and have been honored to write them recommendations!
Library Journal named Mason a 2020 Mover and Shaker.