iSchool Alumnus and Departing Community Profile Writer Summarizes His iSchool Experience
“One of the best things about SJSU’s iSchool is that it connected me with LIS professionals across the world and right next door. It actually took me going to a school online in California to meet and connect with LIS professionals working right here in Philly; which is weird, I suppose, but also kind of affirms the global network connectivity that librarians have going on.”
MLIS Graduate 2018
Having previously attended graduate school for his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing, recent San José State University School of Information alumnus Nick Perilli felt like he had an idea of what the MLIS program at SJSU’s School of Information would be like. “My previous grad program,” says Perilli, “was a hybrid online, part-time residency program here in Philadelphia, so I was already familiar with mostly online education.” Still, Perilli admits to feeling the weight of the ‘100%-online stigma’ when first starting out at the iSchool. “That died down pretty quickly, though,” he says. “The 100% online thing is a great fit for the MLIS, but—more importantly—it was a great fit for me.” Perilli notes that he did get to go to Ireland on a once-in-a-lifetime study abroad trip last summer through SJSU and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, though, so the program was probably more like 95% online for him.
Choosing San José State University for his MLIS degree was pretty simple for Perilli. “I was just getting out of one grad program intent on getting a job [ed. note: that didn’t exactly work out as planned], so I needed the flexibility and, yes, competitive tuition that SJSU offers.” He continues, “I also wanted a diverse array of courses to choose from and the iSchool offers a bevy of unique and focused courses no matter what a students’ career pathway looks like.” While Perilli grew up going to libraries and worked in an academic one during his undergrad studies, he felt he lacked the ‘Librarianship Theory 101’ necessary to make a true go of it as a career. Above all, the iSchool helped Perilli gain that knowledge and prepare him with a well-rounded view of modern librarianship.
Setting Sail on the Librarian Ship
Today, Perilli works for the Doylestown branch of the Bucks County Free Library (BCFL) system in Pennsylvania as an assistant librarian. “It’s the typical public library work you’re thinking of,” says Perilli, “but this being the main branch, which is dead center in a vibrant town, means we’re all busy quite a lot of the time. There’s rarely a chance to breathe on a weekday, let alone a Saturday, especially right now when kids are out of school.” Perilli believes that having this experience at a living library, working in tandem with his education at the School of Information, has provided him with the building blocks of a fruitful career in public libraries.
The skills Perilli gained from his courses here at the iSchool have also been invaluable to his development as an LIS professional. “Even the foundation courses, like INFO 200 through 204, exposed so much of this profession to me,” espouses Perilli, “but I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to Dr. Linda Main’s course INFO 280: History of Books and Libraries and Prof. Beth Wrenn-Estes’s iteration of INFO 281, focusing on the art of oral storytelling.” These courses are attractive because they scream “fun,” but beneath that element are true and tangible skills students can implement immediately in their careers. Getting the opportunity to travel all around Ireland and explore how information functions globally and during times of crises is another experience from which Perilli will never stop learning.
What Am I Going To Do With My Life?
That’s a good question. For now, Perilli will continue to work as an assistant librarian at BCFL, with designs on climbing up the proverbial ladder to a position where he can, perhaps, develop a creative writing and storytelling program for patrons of the library system. Indeed, Perilli is also writing a lot of fiction (shameless plug: links to published pieces can be found on his website). “As I tried to touch on in my e-portfolio as much as possible,” says Perilli, “writing and telling stories and poems not only teaches the power of imagination, critical thinking and creativity to children, but it refreshes that knowledge in teens and adults, too, which I think is important in our wonderful information age that’s filled with so much misinformation.”
As for advice to iSchool students looking ahead to their own futures, Perilli had this to say: “I feel like the ‘advice for students’ portions of this interview column have always been the hardest for interviewees for whatever reason, but I’ll try.” Perilli continues, trying to say something a little different, “What libraries are and what librarianship is, continues to change at a rapid pace. Jobs are plentiful in some areas of the country but dwindling in others. These are truths that students need to grapple with and the faculty at the iSchool never shy away from them.” Listening to the people working in the field and taking their wise words to heart, Perilli urges, is crucial to success in the program and the LIS field.
Perilli also suggests students get a student assistantship at the iSchool, if possible. “What I’ve been doing right here for the past year and a half,” he says, “that is, interviewing fascinating iSchool students, alums, faculty members, etc. and writing up a community profile on them has likely taught me the same amount, if not more about this field, than my main studies in the program.” So, if anyone’s been reading these, Perilli deeply hopes that the insights of the people profiled here have been at least half as helpful to them as they were to him.
“It’s been a great gig,” concludes Perilli.