INFO 298 Student Helps Improve iSchool Support Services

Community Profile
Jessica Walker

“I have found librarianship to be a vocation for me. I was called to this work.”

Jessica Walker
MLIS (degree expected Spring 2020)
Children’s Services Aide, Oakland Public Library
Oakland, California

Jessica Walker isn’t set to graduate from the iSchool MLIS program until spring of 2020 but she has already left a legacy that will impact iSchool students for years to come. Jessica says that she is “an independent learner” who has taught herself how to use technology to streamline her own workflows. In her role as an INFO 298 Special Projects student, Jessica has been able to apply these skills to help the iSchool Student Services Team find new ways to keep the iSchool student community informed about the academic and career options available to them.

Enhances Student Services

Enrolling in INFO 298 during her second semester in the iSchool program, Jessica was tasked with helping the Student Services Team update the iSchool advising and career web pages based on her own experience as a new iSchool student. The team got much more help than they expected, however, when Jessica combined her knowledge of technology applications with her knack for increasing workflow efficiency to create new ways for the Student Services Team to communicate with iSchool students. Jessica’s contributions include:

  • Providing feedback that transformed the iSchool’s Career Pathways Electives chart into a comparison tool. This new format enabled the iSchool’s IT team to convert it into an easy-to-use app right on the iSchool’s website.
  • Creating instructional video tutorials on important enrollment processes such as using e-advising tools and applying for candidacy and graduation
  • Revising and writing new advising tips from a student’s perspective which are now sent out to iSchool students twice a month.

“I don’t want to waste my time doing unnecessarily repetitive tasks,” Jessica says. “I want to do high-level work.” With these contributions, Jessica has certainly achieved her goal.

Research Leads to Work Efficiency

Jessica’s desire to maximize her work efficiency resulted from necessity. For the past 10 years, she has maintained a busy schedule balancing a variety of library jobs with her undergraduate and MLIS studies. By researching ways to use everyday technology such as her iPhone and applications such as Excel, she has been able to develop efficiencies that get her through each day more sanely. 

One such “trick” that Jessica has discovered through her research includes using the voice feature on her iPhone to read course material out loud so that she can do other tasks simultaneously. She urges her fellow students to go to similar lengths to find methods like this to make their lives easier.

“There is a wealth of information out there if you are just willing to take the time to hunt it down,” Jessica advises.

Although not technology-related, Jessica’s decision to enroll in INFO 298 was another tactic to use her time more efficiently. According to Jessica, “Accepting the work experience that INFO 298 presented allowed me to take control of my own workload” by providing the opportunity to earn academic credit and work experience without having to take on additional course work.

Academic Path Leading to Fulfillment of Career Goal

Jessica’s current employer, the Oakland Public Library (OPL), has also discovered how valuable her technology savvy truly is. Jessica began at the OPL as a part-time support aide for their children’s services collection; however, the improvements she developed for different OPL department workflows earned her a promotion to her current full-time position as children’s services support aide.

For Jessica, “librarianship is a vocation, I was called to do this work.” With the time she has dedicated to educating herself both in school and through her own research, Jessica has been working toward a career that involves “supporting the support workers” in the library field. Her enduring contributions here at the iSchool and in her library work thus far is making this career goal become a reality.