Student Val Ballestrem Boosts Credentials by Completing the iSchool Post-Master’s Certificate Program

Community Profile

As education manager at the Architectural Heritage Center, in Portland, Oregon, Val Ballestrem does a little of everything. He organizes programs, books lectures, leads tours, and oversees research projects in the center’s library and archive. Completing the Post-Master’s Certificate program at the San José State University School of Library and Information Science in spring 2013, has increased his knowledge of working with digital archives.

“I decided to enroll in the iSchool’s Post-Master’s Certificate program last fall to boost my credentials and increase my knowledge of archival practices,” said Ballestrem, who already has a master’s degree in history from Portland State University and knew that getting a second master’s in library and information science wasn’t in his cards. “Having a history degree limits people’s perceptions of what you’re capable of doing, so supplementing my history degree with library credentials increases my skills and marketability.”  When Ballestrem came across the information school’s Post-Master’s Certificate program, designed for students who already hold a master’s degree in any discipline, he thought it was perfect.

When choosing his courses, Ballestrem chose to follow the Digital Archives and Records Management pathway, which includes classes such as INFO 256 Archives and Manuscripts, INFO 259 Preservation Management, and INFO 284 Seminar on Archives and Records Management. During his courses, Ballestrem explored topics such as encoded archival description (EAD), special collections in a Web 2.0 world, and digitization.

“All my courses were really helpful,” said Ballestrem. “Having digitization skills moving forward will be especially important. In my field, you’ve got to stay on top of the technology for employability.”

Along the way, Ballestrem found that the coursework also helped improve his management skills. “Part of my job is to oversee volunteers,” he said. “I’ve been able to improve my skills in directing volunteers, which saves me the hassle of doing their tasks later.”

The fully online program format also worked out well for Ballestrem, who lives in Portland, Oregon. “I’d taken a few online classes in the past, but not for a while, so technology has changed,” he said. “I learned that I couldn’t just assume I knew what I was doing.”  He cites the certificate program’s one-unit introductory course, INFO 203, as the key to helping him get up to speed in the program’s fully online learning environment. 

Professional Affiliations

National Council on Public History, American Association for State and Local History