Letters to the iSchool: From Alumna Julie Wong
Published: July 1, 2015
From time to time, iSchool faculty and staff receive thoughtful, unsolicited letters from alumni and current students who want to share their thoughts about the program and how it has affected their lives and careers. We love getting these letters, and we learn a lot from them. We thought you might too, so we’d like to share some of them with you.
This letter is from School of Information alumna Julie Wong, who works as a cataloguer at the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. She wrote the letter to iSchool Director Dr. Sandra Hirsh after meeting Hirsh at UC Berkeley during Hirsh’s series of presentations given throughout California in the spring of 2015.
Dear Dr. Hirsh,
For a program that I started just to see how it would go, I really loved the School of Information at SJSU. I began slowly with LIBR 202; it had been more than 40 years since I was in college and I had a lot of concerns about grad school and the technological aspects of the degree.
I needn’t have worried. I had an excellent partner in 202—a highly motivated young woman fresh out of college who knew what she wanted. Together we designed our database and worked our little hearts out with Dr. Reid, a professor known for her quirky tests. We survived those tests. She asked a lot from us, but our projects were amazing. She has moved on from SJSU, but I’m so grateful I had her as my first professor in library school.
After that, I took on the other two core courses (INFO 200 and INFO 204) with Debbie Hansen and Lisa Rosenblum. Again, they expected a lot, but the assignments were interesting and I did well; even the strategic plan that so many students fear turned out well for our group, and one of my group members was later a coworker at Bancroft.
I decided to try a summer class—Young Adult Materials with Dr. Beth Wrenn-Estes. Plenty of work and technology (doing a PowerPoint presentation and creating a blog), and exposure to a whole body of literature I never would have read on my own. Beth is such a passionate professor. I’m so glad I took that class!
I could continue with a semester-by-semester recap. I took Medieval Manuscripts with Dr. Linda Main, an eye-opening course if there ever was one, with plenty of technology. History of the Book and Libraries with Dr. Debra Hansen and Main, as well as Archives with David De Lorenzo (my current boss). Cataloging with Melodie Frances, who introduced me to FRBR, the basis of RDA, which I use every day at Bancroft.
Then I took storytelling with Dr. Wrenn-Estes, which scared the daylights out of me and was at times a spiritual experience, listening to some of the stories that got told in that class. And there was more technology, as we had to record then load the stories, so our class could listen to them.
I took Historical Research with Dr. Debbie Hansen, which stretched my experience with primary materials and taught me so much about Eichler homes, a particular interest of mine.
Science & Technology Resources with Dr. Susie Aber, an adjunct professor whose interest in maps, geology and aerial photography using kites, was so interesting, not to mention her introduction of the pecha kucha format.
Reference with Dr. Michelle Simmons, which I took the first year she taught at SJSU. What a marvelous professor—so full of heart!
And then finally, my wonderful internship at Bancroft, which led to my present job as a rare book cataloger.
If I have any regrets, it’s only that I couldn’t take more classes before I graduated, which isn’t allowed at the iSchool. In particular, I would have liked to take Preservation, History of Youth Literature and Advanced Cataloging. I never had a bad class and all of them exceeded my expectations.
SJSU’s School of Information is a great program: very flexible, and the course offerings get better and better.
After graduation, I served as the alumna member of the Curriculum Committee in 2012 with Dr. Linda Main, Dr. Michelle Simmons, Dr. Michael Stevens and others, which was a nice follow-up to finishing the program. I continue to mentor students on Facebook and have spoken to several people who are considering SJSU and library science in general.
I can truly say that attending this program was one of the highlights of my life. It gave me a career, introduced me to excellent friends and colleagues and validated a lifelong interest in rare books, history, libraries and research.
It was a pleasure speaking with you today.
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Do you want to take more classes like Julie wished she could have done? Well, you can do it! Check out the iSchool’s Post-Master’s Certificate Program.
image courtesy of cooldesigns