Alumna Kathy Anderson Updates Skills with iSchool’s Post-Master’s Certificate

Community Profile

After earning a master’s degree in library science from SJSU in 1995, Kathy Anderson stayed home to raise a family. With her children now grown, she’s looking to re-enter the workforce as a reference librarian. Wanting to make herself as marketable as possible in her job search, Anderson enrolled in the iSchool’s Post-Master’s Certificate program in library and information science (LIS).

“I knew it would be important to update my master’s degree because the world of librarianship has changed so much,” she said.

Since beginning her LIS education, Anderson wanted to be a reference librarian. “It’s so interesting because you are always learning new things as you help people with their information needs,” she said. “So the Information Intermediation and Instruction career pathway was the perfect fit. This pathway focuses on reference work and education, which is the direction I want my career to take.”

The post-master’s program at the SJSU iSchool was Anderson’s first venture into a fully online educational program. “That was a learning experience in itself,” she said. “To succeed in an online program, you need to be very self-motivated since you don’t have a physical class to attend. Instead, you need to ‘show up’ on your computer on a regular basis. It also takes good organizational skills. I got so much more out of the online PMC program than I thought possible. The professors really work hard to make the online program as engaging and interactive as possible.”

Anderson, who completed the Post-Master’s Certificate program in May 2014, advises anyone considering enrolling in the program “to be prepared for a challenging, but rewarding, educational experience.”

Anderson also did her undergraduate work at SJSU. She earned a bachelor of science degree in business, which she feels will be an asset if she goes into library management. She’d always loved libraries, but as an undergrad felt a business degree would be more practical. After college, she worked first as an advertising copywriter, and then as a marketing assistant for an artificial intelligence R&D company. When the firm’s corporate librarian quit, Anderson volunteered to work in the library until a permanent replacement was found.

“Well, I fell in love with the work and convinced my boss that I could do the librarian’s job,” Anderson said. “My boss took a chance on me and agreed I could do it. Because I wanted to do the best job that I could, I decided to go back to school to get my master’s in library science. My company even paid for part of my education.” Anderson worked for two years as a solo corporate librarian managing the company’s library.

While earning her master’s degree, she did two internships that she says were invaluable to her work experience. As an intern at Apple in the reference department, she did bibliographic searches for employees and strengthened her Web searching skills. Her other internship was at Evergreen Community College in San José, California, where she did “a little bit of everything” from reference to helping students at computer workstations, updating and weeding pamphlet files, and shelving.

To keep up her information skills while raising her three children, Anderson volunteered at their elementary school library for eight years. She assisted the school librarian in answering reference questions, reading to the children, helping them with research and Accelerated Reader testing on the computers, and aiding them in finding age-appropriate reading materials.

Anderson, who lives in Sparks, Nevada, is seeking a position as a reference librarian in either an academic or public library. “I’m drawn to academic libraries because I love the atmosphere of a college campus,” she said. “I also like public libraries because I enjoy Reader’s Advisory and helping all different types of people. Five years from now, I’d like to continue reference work and hopefully be managing a reference department.”

Favorite Thing about the PMC Program

“I think the best part of SJSU’s PMC program is the professors. The teachers are passionate about librarianship and experts in their fields. I chose San José State University’s PMC program because I did my master’s there and had a very rewarding experience. Because I knew I was going to do an online program, I researched a lot of post-master’s programs since I could conceivably go anywhere. I chose SJSU’s program because it is well respected and I knew from past experience that SJSU is a great school.”

Influential Classes and Instructors

“Although I enjoyed all my classes, three in particular stand out. One was INFO 287 Web Search taught by Amelia Kassel. This class was a ton of work and covered so much information, but I really believe it prepared me to be an excellent Web searcher, which is so important to a reference librarian. Kassel owns her own information research company, so it was great to learn from someone working in the information field. The second class I found particularly useful was INFO 275 Library Services for Racially & Ethnically Diverse Communities, taught by Dr. Arglenda Friday. This class helped me realize how important it is to serve all the users of your community, not just the majority. This class should be required by all LIS students, as it teaches librarians how to better serve their diverse clients and make them feel part of the library community. The third class I found especially relevant was INFO 287 The Hyperlinked Library: Emerging Trends, Emerging Technologies taught by Dr. Michael Stephens. He is an extremely passionate teacher who I enjoyed very much. He taught us how important it is to make libraries more welcoming to all members of the community. We learned a lot about the technologies we can use to better reach and serve our clients. Finally, he drove home the point that libraries are the heart of a community and that librarians must serve from their hearts, not just their minds.”

Professional Affiliations

Special Libraries Association

Best Conference

American Library Association

Favorite Website

“To help in my job search, I subscribe to I Need a Library Job (INALJ), a networking group on LinkedIn. This website has been very helpful. I’ve received a lot of great job searching and interviewing information. I think it’s so important to hear from other librarians who are also searching for jobs as the group shares their experiences, challenges, and the rewards of finally finding a library job.”