San José State University School of Information Student Reaches Beyond the Classroom to Compound Her Professional Skillset
“The range of concentrations that SJSU offers was also extremely appealing. The scope of areas that are included within the field of librarianship alone is appealing. My work experience in librarianship thus far has been in a military community library and a public library. The courses available in general librarianship provided me with the accepted best practices relevant to collection development, collection management, cataloging, and research/reference needs.”
iSchool student Kate Eminhizer doesn’t recall having any ambitions of obtaining a graduate degree earlier in her life. “Even now,” says Eminhizer, “it seems hard to believe I’ve pushed myself this far while only having been in the library field for less than three years.” When she began in the field, it didn’t take long for her or her co-workers to realize where she wanted and needed to go from there. “I decided to pursue a degree in library science,” says Eminhizer, “because I was amazed at the practices that were in place at the first library I worked at. My supervisor at the time saw that I had potential in the field and encouraged me to get my degree.” From there, it was a simple matter of deciding where to go for her MLIS (hint: it’s SJSU).
Eminhizer decided to attend the School of Information for her degree for several reasons, not least of which were the lack of a GRE requirement (per Eminhizer, she and standardized tests do not get along), the school’s reasonable tuition rates and the iSchool’s all-online platform and lauded flexibility. “The range of concentrations offered was also extremely appealing,” says Eminhizer. “I chose to focus my studies in the Management, Digitization and Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Records career path.” This path complements Eminhizer’s undergrad studies in history and her previous experience in the museum field. The iSchool’s general librarianship course offerings provided Eminhizer with the accepted best practices relevant to collection development, collection management, cataloging and research/reference needs.
Evolving Inside and Outside the Classroom
One of the greatest benefits of attending the iSchool, per Eminhizer, is the opportunity that lies outside the virtual classroom. Says Eminhizer, “My virtual internship with the Button Museum in Chicago reinvigorated my love of research and museums. Being accepted as a researcher for the International Directory of National Archives publication went beyond the expectations I had for the program.” The latter project allowed Eminhizer to conduct research on several national archives around the world. She was able to compare the differences and similarities between how archives collect, preserve and make materials available around the world.
In November 2017, Eminhizer’s participation in the project—along with the tireless support of Dr. Patricia Franks—made possible a trip for her to the ALA-International Council on Archives Conference, where she (pictured right) wrote up a detailed report on her experience. “I can say that I witnessed a greater sense of camaraderie at the conference [than any of the ones I’ve been to before],” notes Eminhizer. “All of the participants at the conference were accepting and eager to both share and learn from each other. The overreaching sense of community that was exhibited really emphasized how alike all of us in the field of librarianship are. Almost all institutions struggle with a lack of financial support, lack of adequate staff and the ever-increasing difficulty of balancing access with preservation.
Expecting the Unexpected
For now, Eminhizer is working as the public services librarian for the library system in Emporia, VA. Her responsibilities include managing the branch and supervising the staff, as well as developing programs, developing and managing the collection, and coordinating the social media presence of the branch. Says Eminhizer, “This has been a wonderful experience for me as I have had the opportunity to hone my skills and tackle new ones head-on.” Eminhizer’s work at the iSchool, in both her general and focused courses, has helped immensely in her growth as a librarian.
When asked about her future in the field, Eminhizer had this to say: “I try not to put [too] much stake into what desires I may have for the future. Unexpected opportunities are presented to us throughout our lives. I am still learning about this field. I am going to take every [opportunity] I am granted to gain more knowledge in any area of librarianship. It will make me a better librarian, whether it is in a library or an archive.” Certainly, if there’s one thing librarians know well it’s that the LIS field is always evolving, and the future is an unknown and unexpected quantity rife with opportunity for the well-prepared. Count Kate Eminhizer among the prepared.