Student Sarah Henriksson Turns a Class Assignment into an Updated Website for Progressive Librarians Guild

Community Profile

When MLIS student Sarah Henriksson learned that one of her final class projects in her INFO 240 Information Technology Tools and Applications course was to design a website, she reached out to her contacts at the Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG), where she volunteers, gaining their permission to upgrade their site. In the end, she learned how to design a website from scratch and how to collaborate with decision makers to ensure that her design met their specific needs. 

“I had to approach the assignment by taking into consideration what the Progressive Librarians Guild wanted for their site, including the color scheme, images, and how it all fit together,” said Henriksson, who hand-coded the entire site using HTML5 and CSS3, XML for the RSS feed, and a little Java Script. You can view her site here:

While her initial goals were to provide an aesthetically pleasing, modern look, Henriksson found that the user experience component was equally critical and something that evolved over time. “From the start, I designed the site so that users could easily access content, but since then PLG has added more user-oriented features, like an RSS feed and access to Twitter and Facebook.” As a result of the ongoing upgrades, Henriksson joined the webmaster’s team as a volunteer and continues to update the site as needed.

Henriksson welcomed the challenge of creating the site: “Working for PLG gave me much more experience than just designing a site on my own. The project improved my ability to collaborate and forced me to think about the needs of PLG’s audience.”

For students seeking a similar classroom-to-real-world experience, Henriksson recommends flexibility. “Be mindful that your vision and your client’s vision are two different things,” she said. “Take lots of notes and expect that not all the feedback will be positive.”

When she’s not volunteering or immersed in coursework, Henriksson works full-time as a solo librarian at a trade school for mechanics, plumbers, and electricians in the Bay Area. She began our School’s MLIS program in Fall 2010 to improve her knowledge and practice.  “I’ve been picking and choosing classes from a variety of Career Pathways,” Henriksson said.

Currently, Henriksson is enrolled in a virtual internship, assisting the Electronic Services Librarian at the Marin County Free Library, whose public and staff website recently underwent a migration to Drupal. “I’m currently taking INFO 246 (Special Topic: Learning to Use Drupal and Understanding Content Management Systems), so it’s great to work with the platform in real situations,” said Henriksson, whose first project was to build a How-To Guide for posting a blog entry. “It’s been a positive experience so far, and I highly recommend an internship for anyone,” she said.

Influential Classes

INFO 240 Information Technology Tools and Applications with Derek Christiansen: “Even if you’ve never done website design before, the class is manageable. Christiansen starts with the very basics.”

INFO 210 Reference and Information Services, INFO 248 Beginning Cataloging and Classification, INFO 266 Collection Management: “I feel that as a librarian you need to understand these core concepts.”

INFO 246 Advanced Information Tools and Technology (Topics on JavaScript & Understanding Drupal): “I’ve become more technical than I thought I would, and I really enjoy it! JavaScript put a dent in my head from banging it in frustration, but I found something I like to do!”

Best Conference

California Library Association Annual Conference: “I recommend all students go to a professional conference. This is where I got my contact for my current internship – she was a presenter at one of the panels. I told her I was a student and she gave me her card, then I followed up after that.”

Tech Tip  

Notepad++ “I would never be able to live without this source code editor.”

Drupal: “I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid with Drupal. Any future websites I design will likely run on Drupal.”

Favorite Blog

The Cooking Librarian (Henriksson’s own); Librarian by Day: “I like bloggers that write with humor and wit.”

Professional Affiliations

American Library Association, California Library Association, Freedom to Read Foundation, Progressive Library Guild, Friends of Castro Valley Library