"Librarianship, in a sense, is a soft form of social work—helping people find information—whether it be for entertainment purposes or helping a patron research a scary new diagnosis given by a doctor."
Q: What's your name? What degree you are seeking? What semester/year do you expect to graduate?
A: My name is JC Brown and I am pursuing a Master's in Library and Information Science with a graduate certificate in Public Library Services to Children and Young Adults via the online program. I'll be graduating in Spring of 2013.
Q: Where are you from originally? How long have you been in the area? Did you move here to go to school?
A: Originally, I am from Oxford, Michigan -- a suburb in northern Oakland County. For the past 7 years, I have resided in Sandusky which is nestled in the rural Thumb area of Michigan. Fortunately because I am an online student, I didn't have to relocate for school or deal with long commutes. I initially visited the WSU campus for a prospective student meeting and then orientation. In order to establish a connection and feel more part of the program, I choose to meet with my academic adviser face-to-face rather than virtually.
Q: What other degrees do you have and where are they from?
A: I have an A.A. in Pre-Criminal Justice from Ferris State University and a B.A. in Psychology from Oakland University.
Q: Why did you choose SLIS?
A: Wayne State's School of Library and Information Science came highly recommended to me by two alumni of the program. I attended a prospective student meeting on-campus in order to learn more about the specifics of the program. At the end of the meeting, I walked away knowing that the online option would be the perfect fit for me and my busy schedule.
Q: What is your area of specialization? Why?
A: My area of specialization, public libraries, goes well beyond my love for books and reading and draws upon my background of helping people. Librarianship, in a sense, is a soft form of social work-helping people find information-whether it be for entertainment purposes or helping a patron research a scary new diagnosis given by a doctor. The public library specialization is truly about helping others and giving back to the community.
I am also fascinated by intellectual freedom and censorship topics. In fact, I hope to take LIS 7990 (directed study) and tie in my love of history while focusing on intellectual freedom and censorship during the Third Reich (think: Nazi book burnings, banned book lists, underground libraries, clandestine publishing, and curriculum/textbook censorship.)
Q: Where/what format do you take most of your classes? Why?
A: I like this question. While I take my classes online, my "location" typically varies. It isn't unusual for me to be listening to a lecture, creating a PowerPoint presentation, or be pouring over my books in a public library. I have my regular haunts in the Thumb and Oakland County area. It's great because I've made professional connections at each of the libraries that I visit. (If you see me, feel free to stop by and say hello!)
I chose the online format because it worked best due to my distance from campus and it accommodated my busy schedule.
Q: Are you active in any student organizations?
A: I am a member of ALA@Wayne. Outside of student organizations, I am a member of Intellectual Freedom Round Table, Public Library Association, Young Adult Library Services Association, and the Historical Society of Michigan.
Q: How has your involvement in student organizations impacted your SLIS experience?
A: As an online student who has participated in ALA@Wayne field trips, I have been afforded the opportunity to meet and network with fellow LIS students.
Q: Are you currently doing any library related work? If so, how has the program prepared you for it?
A: Yes, I am doing curatorial work for the Sanilac County Historical Society. I'm really excited about my current project, which involves revamping the museum's military exhibit! Prior to this undertaking, I worked in the museum's archives collection where I used skills learned from my cataloging and reference classes.
Q: What are you most proud of in library school?
A: I'd have to say: the connections. Both through SLIS and my extracurricular activities, I've made both personal and professional connections. Inspired by the book and film, Julie & Julia, for my 30th birthday I put together a campaign of library tours in which I called 30 Years and 30 Libraries. I photographed each library, interviewed administrators, and documented my adventures via my blog, LIS-themed Hermionish. I've learned a lot through my connections, which has resulted in professional growth. I cannot express how grateful I am.
Q: Is there a professor who has really impacted your journey into librarianship?
A: All of the professors/instructors I've had thus far have both impacted and shaped my journey into librarianship by inspiring me with their unique and individual areas of expertise. I'd like to thank: Suzanne Todd, Paul Gallagher, Dr. Hermina Anghelescu, Dr. Robert Holley, Beth Walker, Dr. Maria Gonzalez, Dr. Gordon Neavill, and Dr. Dian Walster.
Q: Since joining the program, what do you feel is the most important or surprising thing you've learned about the library and information science profession?
A: It's a very welcoming profession! The professors and those librarians I've encountered practicing in the field love to share their knowledge, skills, and ideas. Also worth noting, I was pleased to know that my skills and experience in the human services field translated well into the LIS field. (I was surprised by how many practicing librarians had left the human services/social work field!)
Q: Do you feel well prepared for a career in the information profession? Any long-term professional goals?
A: Absolutely! Between my professional background, SLIS courses, and the experience I've gained in the field by way of immersion and networking, I feel very well-equipped.
I have aspirations of practicing rural librarianship in the Thumb area of Michigan. Ideally I'd like to work under the supervision of a seasoned library director in a Class 1 - 2 library while gaining experience in the field before moving into any administrative roles. Ultimately, I'd like to become a library director and give back to the profession by teaching as an adjunct instructor.
Q: What advice would you give to someone considering SLIS as their library school?
A: Don't let your geographic location sway your decision to not pursue your passion. Look into the online option for a MLIS and/or graduate certificate. While in the program, talk to those in the field and get hands-on experience from those connections.