Dedicated Librarian Enriches Her Communities Using Skills Learned in Post-Master’s Certificate Program

Community Profile
Vicki Heck

“I’d been working as a librarian for 10 years and was looking for some continuing education that would help me gain new and innovative skills to bring back to my communities. It was an excellent decision!”

Vicki Heck
Post-Master’s Certificate 2016 graduate
King County, Washington

With a Post-Master’s Certificate in Digital Archives and Records, librarian Vicki Heck feels a new vigor in her position.

Returning to graduate school for her Post-Master’s Certificate in Digital Archives and Records from the San José State University School of Information was an obvious step forward for Vicki Heck. Today, she’s using her newfound skills, ideas and connections to develop many plans and programs benefiting the communities she serves as adult services librarian for the King County Library System (KCLS), a position she has held since 2006.

“In all my communities,” Heck explains, “I work with arts, historical and cultural organizations, and my education and coursework at the iSchool provided an opportunity for me to develop relationships with these groups.” Her course work has also prompted her to build new collaborative relationships with nearby museums, the Washington State Archives, UW Archives, cultural centers and genealogy resources, as well as increase her knowledge of the variety of resources in her area for research.

Deep Roots

The LIS field pairs well with Heck’s personal and fundamental ideologies and practices. “I love organization and efficiency,” she enthuses. “Free and equal access to ideas, information, technology and entertainment; community building; social services; partnerships and lifelong learning.” These tenets motivated Heck throughout the PMC program. “I love that I get to do all these things at work every day as a public librarian.”

While her five classes (Archives and Manuscripts, Digital Preservation, Genealogy, Managing Photographic Collections and Oral History) were demanding, fast-paced and in-depth, she put the utmost effort into her coursework and found exactly what she was looking for. “I created a digital preservation plan for my Newcastle Historical Society, an oral history project I developed has found a permanent home and will live on in the historical record with Eastside Heritage Center, and I saved some nearly damaged wet periodicals with skills I learned in my preservation class.” 

The iSchool played a significant role in compounding Heck’s skills as a librarian and shared many of her own ideologies. “All of my instructors are currently working in their respective fields,” says Heck, “which gave us such a grounded, realistic view of the landscape we were currently studying.” As an example, Heck singles out professor Leigh Gleason, who taught her Managing Photographic Collections course. “[Gleason] currently works as curator of collections at UCR/California Museum of Photography,” Heck recalls. “She brought a high level of passion and engagement to our discussions.” Heck and her fellow students found that Gleason’s own passion for the topic fueled them right along with her.

Heck’s genealogy course further provided new skills in a field in which she felt she was lacking many. “I never felt adequately prepared when a patron asked for help [with genealogy],” Heck admits. “I meekly pointed out the databases we subscribe to and quickly made referrals to another library system, who I know has professional genealogy librarians.” Now, after the whirlwind, 10-week course and the culminating kinship determination project, Heck has a lot more confidence addressing these questions. “The assignment [involved] an unbelievable amount of research, synthesis and writing, but the final results left me profoundly proud.” 
Library2Go! van and staffSkills Attained in the Post-Master’s Certificate Program Produced Inspiring Outcomes
Heck’s culminating experience in the Post-Master’s Certificate program was developing a thorough Program Outcomes Assessment. In it, she details the impact the program has had on her and in the communities she serves. “When I look back at everything I did, everything I learned—I feel a tremendous sense of pride.” Heck shared her outcomes assessment with family, friends and colleagues who supported her along the way.
Heck’s advice for iSchool students and alumni? Network and connect. “These connections will increase the chances of learning about career opportunities and job openings,” she says. As will going to community meetings, working as an intern, attending conferences and participating in online listservs. She also advises those seeking work at a particular institution to follow her trajectory and not be afraid of starting in a non-professional role. “My experience working as a page at KCLS,” Heck says, “allowed me the opportunity to learn more about the library system, meet key people, provided access to internal-only position openings and allowed management to [observe] my work ethic.”

As for Heck’s future, she’s happy right where she is. “I am going to continue working as a KCLS adult services librarian, but with a new vigor, pursuing inspired ideas from my time at SJSU.”