Community College Librarian Looks to the iSchool’s Open Classes for Continuing Education in the Field of LIS

“It has worked extremely well for me to be able to continue to take classes and be involved in academic studies but not be a degree seeker. It is a great opportunity to continue my education and be excited about my career.”

Anne Chernaik
Librarian, College of Lake County
Grayslake, IL

Anne Chernaik has been working as a librarian for over 12 years, but finds taking graduate-level classes through SJSU’s Open Classes program to be a valuable experience for staying abreast the latest trends, issues and topics within the field of Library and Information Science (LIS). The iSchool’s Open Classes program provides a flexible schedule and many courses for continuing education and professional development; there are currently over 60 electives available through the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program and Master of Archives and Records Administration (MARA) program. Chernaik is finding the experience of being involved in graduate-level classes once again invigorating for her career. “The classes give me the opportunity to keep up on subjects that I want and need to keep learning about, such as health informatics, scholarly publishing and open access education. I feel excited about the subjects that I am studying,” said Chernaik.

Chernaik is a librarian at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois where she has been working for over a decade. The College of Lake County is a community college, and she relishes the diversity found in the students that she works with. “I wasn't sure when I started [her MLS program] where I would want to go, but I found a place that I absolutely love. At a community college, I get such an amazing mix of students; from transfer students to career program students, from 18-year olds to 70-year olds. I never know day-to-day what my schedule will be like. It’s a place where I really feel valued and like I can really help,” said Chernaik.

Chernaik is currently on sabbatical working on an open educational resources project, and was able to incorporate taking classes through the Open Classes program and continuing her education as part of that project. She began taking classes at the iSchool over the summer with an INFO 281 seminar titled Scholarly Communication and Publishing: Access, Intellectual Property, and Access. “The class I took this summer gave me so many amazing connections in scholarly publishing and open access and resources. I went to a conference and got to meet some of the people I had been hearing about in the class. It was an exciting experience,” said Chernaik. She recently attended a summit of the Open Textbook Network out of the University of Minnesota when she realized she recognized some of the speakers from her summer class. 

Chernaik chose the iSchool because of its flexibility and affordability. She wanted an online program that would help her keep a good balance between work and family life. She heard about the iSchool through a colleague who was pursuing a MLIS degree. Chernaik received her MLS degree at Syracuse University years ago, so keeping up with the latest in library and information sciences is important to her. Open Classes has opportunities for both current and future information professionals who have at least a bachelor’s degree. Chernaik is currently taking three classes: seminars in Health Informatics, Evidence-based Practice and Open Access. “I’m at a place where what I do changes. I have been a department chair for a certificate program, done curriculum development and teaching, and am currently learning about open access and pedagogy. I can be in the same place for years but never end up doing the same thing that I did last year,” said Chernaik. Staying fresh and up-to-date with the latest technology and developments helps her stay relevant in the field. 

Chernaik says that all information professionals should make time for continuing education. “I had to set aside the time to make myself and learning a priority. It is so easy in this field to be overwhelmed and busy, but that can lead to being in a rut. Being in an educational setting that is about my profession and interacting with other people can make me feel excited about going to work,” said Chernaik. She finds that taking classes reflects in the work she does with her students. “It can make your work more exciting again because you get to study what you love and remember why you love it. It makes it a wonderful experience.” She plans to continue taking classes through the iSchool’s Open Classes program for the time being, and again in the future when she wants to expand her knowledge base.