In the special collections room I got to see parts of history and innovation that I had never considered important before. It made me change the way I thought about all the books I’ve read in the course of my life.
Student leader, book nerd, animal lover and . . . part-time Disney princess? Katherine Emrich, a student in the School of Information Sciences’ MLIS program, is all of these things and more.
In addition to pursuing her master’s degree and working as a phone page for the University of Michigan Law Library, Emrich is a member of the Wayne State Libraries Student Advisory Council and is the SIS representative for the Wayne State University Student Senate.
As a child, Emrich always considered herself a “book nerd” and was rarely seen without a book in her hands, even while attending her brother’s hockey games. But her interest in the field of library science didn’t come about until she took the “History of the Book” class at Michigan State University. It was there that she began on her path to librarianship.
“The class took place in the special collections room at MSU and it really sparked my interest,” Emrich says. “I got to see parts of history and innovation that I had never considered important before. It made me change the way I thought about all the books I’ve read in the course of my life. It also made me appreciate other forms of written materials like the Sumerian tablet and cook books. I really learned the value of words in that class.”
Emrich graduated from Michigan State in 2019 with bachelor’s degree in Global History with a specialization in Western European History. After hearing from book owners and collectors in the class, Emrich shadowed one of the special collections librarians and became a Conservation Intern at the Michigan State University Library. She came to find that most of the librarians who worked there graduated from Wayne State’s MLIS program.
Once she began her degree at Wayne State, Emrich wanted to become more involved in bringing the SIS community together, especially since the majority of the school’s classes are offered only online. She was elected as the School of Information Sciences representative on the Wayne State Student Senate, the primary representative institution of Wayne State’s student body.
“It’s important that students feel that their voices are being heard,” Emrich says. “Especially when you are learning in an online environment.”
Emrich also joined the Wayne State Libraries Student Advisory Council (LSAC), a group of students and library staff who work together to create the best possible library spaces, services and opportunities for the campus community. As a member, Emrich is most interested in hearing and addressing concerns from her fellow students. She meets with the deans three times a year to bring make sure issues are taken to the school’s leadership.
“It's wonderful to have someone who's so engaged in how libraries and the student experience go hand in hand,” said Jill Wurm, associate director of marketing and communications for the WSU Library System and chair of the LSAC. “Because of her connection to Student Senate, she's done a wonderful job of bridging the voices of both groups to be sure student opinions are heard and considered as the library makes decisions.”
As restrictions on travel and gatherings are lifted, Emrich hopes to be able to connect with SIS students at events for those who do not live in the metro Detroit area. As a member of the Student Senate, she is also working to get vending machines on campus and in the libraries that offer free hygiene items and school supplies for students in need.
Emrich is on track to graduate next year and hopes to one day have a job as Director of Special Collections for a major university. She already is the proud owner of her own special collection of books that includes first edition prints of Keats, Shelley and Yeats, and several medical texts that have been passed down through her family. She sites a pocket German-English dictionary that belonged to her great grandfather among her favorites. Emrich hosts her own YouTube channel where she talks about her collection.
On the weekends, Emrich works as a Disney princess lookalike – dressing in costume to delight young fans at birthday parties – a practice she has continued in quarantine via Zoom video calls.
Emrich lives with her family in Sterling Heights, Mich., and rarely gets lonely during quarantine because she is surrounded by pets, including her beloved cats Loki and Tally; dogs Luna-Petunia and Blinkey; and rats Maisy Mouse and Olive.
Emrich encourages students to reach out if they would like to speak about the MLIS program or if there is anything they would like to see in the libraries. She can be reached at email@example.com.