Muppets and MLIS Mayhem with SLASC President Lauren Kime
“Being a part of that production, and post-production, seeing the full scale of what it takes to not only write something and have it approved but also get it produced, and then all the marketing that goes into it and all of the appearances and promotions and everything, it’s definitely changed the way that I view puppetry as a whole… because there’s just so much more to it than just someone sticking their hand into a puppet and making it talk.”
Lauren Kime, MLIS/DAM Certificate December
Los Angeles, CA
Lauren Kime started her academic career by pursuing her
Bachelor’s in Art History at CSU
Channel Islands. During that time she had a collections
management internship at the Corita Art Center that gave her
some insight into the museum world.
“The curator there told me that she did her Master’s in Art History, but what made the most difference for her was doing her MLIS.”
The more Lauren spoke with her supervisor about her interests the more it made sense to pursue a Master’s in Library and Information Science degree (MLIS) rather than the more academic-than-practical MA in Art History.
“That was when it really clicked – this is what I want to do. I want to be able to touch everything and have a more holistic view and understanding.”
And so when it came time to apply for grad school, she applied for the MLIS program at SJSU.
For Lauren, her experience at the iSchool so far has provided a wider range of options than she expected.
On top of taking courses like INFO 210 – Reference and Information Services and INFO 248 – Beginning Cataloging and Classification, she has been able to take classes on Art Librarianship and world-expanding courses on AI/Virtual Reality, but Lauren has also been able to cross-reference courses and work simultaneously on a Digital Assets Management certificate, too.
Thanks to her previous experience working with museums, Lauren was able to bring that background to some of her courses like her Digital Asset Management course, INFO 281: Metadata, which she has been able to use to help her most recent employer – Disney, too.
“So many more companies are realizing that they need some type of asset management system or a CRM, and they need people to work on it, and they don’t know who to turn to.” And when they understand that that’s what you went to school for, it all falls into place.
The Happiest Place To Work
Before Lauren worked at Disney, she had worked in art handling at a museum, and then she helped implement a digital asset management system for a small-time wholesaler while working to get her degree. Then, a friend found a job post looking for a library student with the same skills she was already utilizing but as a Muppets asset specialist.
“At first I wasn’t going to apply – I already had a full-time job, but my husband was like, ‘You’ve got nothing to lose, the worst thing they can say is no.’ So I just applied and about a month later, not expecting anything, I got a phone call,” Lauren said. “It was a three-interview process, and I ended up getting the position. It’s been so much fun. I’ve loved everything about it.”
When Lauren was officially brought on, Disney was focusing on digitizing the assets they had acquired from the Jim Henson Company, especially related to the original Muppet Show and the movies Jim worked on before his passing.
“I think I was more excited than I was nervous,” Lauren said. “Having that art handling background, especially with fragile and delicate artworks really gave me a sense of confidence and comfort when it came to handling a lot of the Muppet Studio Archive.”
Between handling older film and photographs and digitizing floppy disks, data migration was one of Lauren’s tasks, working with her small team of about five people. Together they accessed images and 35-millimeter film and old scripts to pull to digital and worked with the original style guides to help out other teams for Marketing and beyond stay consistent with character designs and choices even as they created new material.
On slower days, Lauren says, she would down and start inputting metadata for everything they’ve digitized already to make sure it is all searchable and easily accessible.
As the only member of her team with a background in librarianship, Lauren sometimes had to get feedback from other Disney archive teams – but as every team has its own priorities, that can take time. Sometimes Lauren had to have the final say to make more immediate decisions.
“My team took my recommendations very seriously and was fully supportive of my decisions,” Lauren said. “So there’s ups and downs, but I’ve really enjoyed being allowed the space to figure it out from the bottom up.”
Lauren says that her position has given her a newfound appreciation for the art of puppetry and the production process as a whole.
“I’ve been really, really privileged with this position to be a part of some of their workshops or get to go on set. We’re releasing our new show, The Muppets Mayhem shortly, so being a part of that production, and now being a part of the post-production, seeing the full scale of what it takes to not only write something and have it approved but also get it produced and then all the marketing that goes into it and all of the appearances and promotions and everything – it’s definitely changed the way that I view puppetry as a whole because there’s just so much more to it than just someone sticking a hand in a puppet and making it talk. People fully take on these personalities and they become these characters that are just so iconic, and it’s so cool to see.”
Finding Special Libraries
Like many students, Lauren wanted to find connections at grad school, which is not always easy at a totally virtual school.
“There’s a lot of group project work and whatnot, but once you start another class and you’re not in the same group, it’s hard to stay connected to people. A lot of us are older, we have full-time jobs and we have kids. It was really hard to find consistency so I figured joining a student group would probably be one of the better options for myself.”
For Lauren, that ended up being SLASC – the Special Libraries Association Student Chapter, and she started as a Second Assistant Blog Editor in January 2022, became Vice President in May 2022, and President in January 2023.
“It’s been really, really fun. I feel like I’ve seen this group grow a lot in the last year and a half. I think my big thing was that I was looking for that sense of community and when I first joined, it was a little disjointed. We were kind of trying to find our groove as a group and where we were comfortable.”
Lauren is really proud of how far SLASC has come – the organization now offers a multitude of virtual study halls, movie/game nights, and more to help foster that communal space for current and future members and EC roles. It also serves as a safe space for students to gain leadership skills and try new things, whether as a Second Assistant role or something with even more responsibility.
“I never saw myself jumping into the vice president or the presidential role,” Lauren admits, “but now I have this form of leadership and management on my resume that I think is really valuable, especially in the roles that we play in our communities moving forward.”
Looking Towards the Future
Whether it’s working for a student organization or another company, Lauren understands the value behind volunteering in grad school.
“For anyone who doesn’t have experience, or is transitioning over from a career — because I see a lot of people who are doing that — don’t count yourself out. Your experience counts and it matters and there are ways to take what you’ve done and specifically apply it to any situation.”
Lauren also recommends utilizing professional organization forums to find ways to volunteer and gain more experience – that is how she found her current volunteer opportunity, which has allowed her to gain even further experience in another special library setting.
“I’m not someone who’s ever worked in an actual library. A lot of my work was in digital asset management and archives and collections management. So now to be volunteering with the Carnegie Observatories, and working with their librarian – that volunteer experience that I have is fully applicable to any library job that I would apply to. What’s meant for you is coming your way, you just gotta put yourself out there.”
After wrapping up her internship in early June, Lauren started her new role as Digital Assets Coordinator at AV Squad, an entertainment agency that handles promotional campaigns for TV and Film. This gives her the chance to work with all the assets needed for movie trailers, movie posters, and billboards, from video to photos and even behind-the-scenes captures.
Both opportunities have given Lauren an even greater appreciation for tv and film preservation.
“Working in television production and preserving things like that is really near and dear to my heart because my father prior to his passing was a prop master. So seeing people preserve things that he created, and seeing what he created in his life as art and a value of preserving for future generations is something that really matters to me.”
But when asked about what her perfect role would be, somewhere down the line, Lauren does have an answer outside of film and the House of Mouse and muppets:
“I think my dream job would be working the special collections or archives with the Huntington Library. I absolutely love it. I love walking through their collections and going into the reading room and if I was paid to be there, that would be life goals for me.”
Check this out!
“If you enjoy art history, The Art History Babes is a fantastic podcast, where a couple of best friends from graduate school drink wine and discuss feminism and art and why things are the way they are, and I really enjoy that.”
Lauren also recommends the book Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear which is about “getting over the imposter syndrome” and going for big things.