Student Chris Magnusson Garners Grant Funds for Newspaper Preservation Project

Community Profile

San José State University School of Information student Chris Magnusson learned the second time’s the charm when a grant application she wrote garnered $1,000 in funding to help a public library preserve its collection of local newspapers.

Magnusson volunteered to write the grant application for the Hibbing Public Library in Minnesota as part of the INFO 282 Grant Writing course she took in spring 2013, taught by Patty Wong.

“It may seem odd to microfilm rather than digitize,” Magnusson said, “but no organization was doing anything to preserve Minnesota newspapers except a small effort by one local newspaper.” The grant money provided by the Minnesota Library Foundation allowed the library to microfilm newspapers and give a copy to the Minnesota Historical Center, which has a long-term goal of converting that microfilm to digital format.

“This project freed up storage space, preserved local newspapers, which are filled with our community history, and transferred them to a format that can be easily converted to a digital format at a later date,” Magnusson said.

This was a second try at grant writing for Magnusson, who is enrolled in the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program at the SJSU information school.

 “The first try didn’t go so well,” Magnusson admits. But by talking with the funder, she got some helpful “real-world” feedback, and applied that experience to the microfilm project. “So don’t give up on grant seeking, ask questions, and apply what you learn from each situation,” she advises.

Magnusson now works as the Regional Librarian-Database Manager/Legacy Programming Coordinator – “yes, it does fit on a business card” – at the Arrowhead Library System in northeastern Minnesota. She said her job combines very different skills from cataloging to programming and marketing, and she enjoys being able to tackle different challenges every day.

She got the job as a result of talking with Arrowhead Library System officials about the possibility of designing an internship to learn more about how libraries partner with each other to provide services. The internship idea didn’t take place, but instead, she was hired as a part-time database manager. That contract position turned into her current, permanent position.

Magnusson describes herself as “a true example of a lifelong learner with many work and family detours along the way.” She completed her first college class in 1982 at Hibbing Community College, and later returned to school to earn a legal secretary associate degree in 1991. After working at the Hibbing Public Library for a few years, she realized she needed more education, so she completed a business administration degree at Capella University in December 2011, and started the MLIS program in January 2012.

She expects to complete her MLIS degree in spring 2015.

Influential Instructors

“I have had several really wonderful instructors. Two of the most influential have been Wong and Dr. David Loertscher. They both have really challenged me to think about what librarians can really do and expand my vision of the role of librarians.”

Career Tips

“Don’t be afraid to tell people what you can do and what you have learned, and, more importantly, take that next step and ask for that job or volunteer your services.”

Tech Tip

“With how quickly technology changes, I don’t know that there is any individual software or technology librarians should focus on, unless your goal is to be a systems librarian. I think it is more important for most librarians to be able to use a variety of technology so you can easily adapt a basic understanding to new technologies.”

Professional Affiliation

Minnesota Library Association – Communications and Conference sub-committees

Best Conferences

MLA; Minnesota Library Technology Conference

Favorite Blogs or Websites

Designer Librarian; Tame the Web; Swiss Army Librarian