Research-Savvy iSchool Alumna Graduates With A Career Waiting For Her

Community Profile

“Everyone was so vibrant and excited about the paths they were pursuing, I knew the iSchool would provide me a more engaging and varied MLIS experience.”

Tamarack Hockin
MLIS Graduate 2017
British Columbia, Canada

Tamarack Hockin is now working as a collection services librarian, a job she landed well before graduating from the San José State University School of Information.

Unlike many burgeoning library information professionals, iSchool alumna Tamarack Hockin (MLIS ’17) didn’t find her way to librarianship because of a love of books. “I fell in love with libraries as non-commercial public spaces,” she says, “when I was a broke, traveling twenty-something with nowhere else to go.” Since then, Hockin has grown to appreciate the inner workings of these spaces. “Now,” she says, “the systems of the LIS field are what interest me most, both in the sense of technology and knowledge organization.”

Looking to find a nurturing environment for her interests, Hockin naturally turned to MLIS programs, applying to several, including SJSU’s. Says Hockin, “I had just been accepted into another university’s MLIS program when I met Dr. Cheryl Stenstrom, a full-time faculty member at SJSU, at a national library conference in Victoria, Canada.” Speaking with Dr. Stenstrom and a group of iSchool students about SJSU’s approach to the MLIS convinced Hockin that the iSchool was the right place for her. “Everyone,” she says, “was so vibrant and excited about the paths they were pursuing, I knew the iSchool would provide me a more engaging and varied MLIS experience.” 

Crucial Steps
Today, Hockin works at the Fraser Valley Regional Library as the Collection Services Librarian, a job she secured months before she graduated in May 2017 due to her eight years of library field experience and the skills learned at the School of Information. Says Hockin (pictured right with Scott Hargrove, CEO of Fraser Valley and fellow iSchool alum), “I oversee cataloguing and processing of our collection, work in depth with our Integrated Library System (ILS), and generally manage our existing collection through projects and policy.” Recently, Hockin catalogued her first robot: the SPRK+, a small programmable robot that lets kids and families engage with STEM learning. SJSU’s modern and wide-ranging approach to the MLIS was integral to achieving the success Hockin is seeing now in her professional life.

As a way to better serve her library, Hockin concurrently completed an Advance Certificate in Strategic Management of Digital Assets and Services along with her MLIS during her time at the iSchool. “Courses in big data and information visualization,” Hockin says, “will really serve me in communicating data-driven insights about the collection to staff at my library.” She continues, “INFO 242: Database Management was a crucial course during my MLIS as my work with the ILS is fairly complex.” Hockin credits Dr. Anthony Bernier as being the supportive mentor who helped her build the confidence she needed in order to succeed in all stages of the job search and seizure process.

A Researcher’s Disposition
Throughout her professional and educational career, Hockin has had an affinity for the research aspect of librarianship, which led her to take up the mantle of Content Editor and, later, Editor-in-Chief of the iSchool’s SLIS Student Research Journal (SRJ). “I arrived at the iSchool with a deep love of research,” says Hockin, “and the opportunity to work with a student-governed, double-blind peer-reviewed journal was something no other MLIS program in North America could offer.” Hockin’s roles at the journal helped her hone a number of skills valuable to the work of a librarian, including critical thinking, project management, leadership and—of course—research. Says Hockin, “My time with the SRJ is my most valued experience from my MLIS and I feel privileged to have worked with so many dedicated peers, authors and editors alike.”

For those seeking to walk a career path similar to Hockin’s, she has three points of advice to offer. “First and foremost,” she says, “follow what you love, as all success stems from genuine interest and passion about the work you are doing. Second, build up your professional network with colleagues and peers you respect and mentors you trust. Finally, be a contributor. Be engaged in the profession, get involved in projects and give back.” As for Hockin’s own future, she was just named as one of the Association of Information Sciences & Technology (ASIS&T)’s New Leaders for the 2017-18 year, which she calls “a wonderful honor and opportunity for mentoring and professional development.” Hockin will attend her first ASIS&T Annual Meeting this fall in Washington, D.C. as part of this program. Beyond that, Hockin is excited to develop her new role at the Fraser Valley Regional Library. Says Hockin, “My new position brings with it a number of exciting projects and skill-building opportunities, so I am really looking forward to the coming year.”