Alum Carol Pearce Volunteers Web Skills for Good Causes

SLIS alum Carol Pearce has more than 20 years experience in the technology field, doing everything from web design to trouble shooting and quality assurance. So when Pearce signs up to volunteer her time to charitable causes, she brings an arsenal of skills to the table. “I try to do work for non-profits as much as I can because they often really need the help,” said Pearce, who graduated in 2006.

Pearce spent more than two years working on the website for the Children of Ethiopia Education Fund (COEFF), which seeks to improve the lives and educational opportunities for girls in Ethiopia. COEFF was started by Toronto-based librarian Shirley Lewis, who frequently visits Ethiopia and works to improve educational access for women. Pearce became involved with COEEF somewhat on a whim – after graduating in December 2006, she saw a posting on the SLIS listserv seeking a volunteer to help Lewis design the site from scratch. Pearce initially thought it would be a couple weeks worth of work, but she enjoyed it so much that she not only created the COEFF site but went on to update and maintain it over the next two years.

While doing her volunteer work, Pearce landed her “dream job” working as project manager for Emeryville, California-based Innovative Interfaces, which is best known as the maker of Millennium library software. “I was very careful about the jobs I interviewed for after graduating because I knew I wasn’t going to work in a library unless it was in a technical capacity. This job seemed even more exciting, giving me the opportunity to work with the software that helps run a library,” she said.

Pearce decided to earn her MLIS degree shortly after she was laid off from her job as quality assurance manager at a tech company along with the rest of her department. All of her work and that of her colleagues was thrown away in the dumpster, and Pearce knew that employees in the future would have to recreate it just like she undoubtedly had recreated work of co-workers laid off before her. “We had all of this incredible information that was just lost, and it made me want to figure out how to prevent that from happening again by exploring methods of preservation,” she said.

Working for a library software company is far afield from the undergraduate degree in criminology Pearce earned at University of California at Berkeley. Pearce became interested in computers when she started working at a company that made personal computer boards. Her current job allows her to work in her favorite location: the intersection between information and technology.

“I am excited about working with all types of libraries and information technology, but I still love to use my skills to help small non-profit agencies to get their message out to their audience,” she said.