Congratulations to Gleeson Library | Geschke Center’s Reference Student and Technology Coordinator, Ariana Varela, for completing her Masters Degree in Library and Information Sciences (MLIS) at San Jose State University this month!
Ariana is a USF alum, and first generation college graduate. She earned her Bachelors Degree in History with an emphasis in Latin American studies. As an undergrad, Ariana received The David Herlihy Prize, which “recognizes superior historical scholarship and the most outstanding research paper amongst the History majors at USF,” and the Latin American Studies Paper Prize, “given to the most nuanced and comprehensive paper written in the field of Latin American studies,” for her undergraduate thesis, Blackness in Colonial Mexico.
When we’re on campus, Ariana fields reference questions, manages a team of Reference Department student assistants, and also coordinates technology in Reference and the library’s electronic classroom. Since working remotely, Ariana has continued to field reference questions and has worked on several special projects for the reference and instruction team, including the production of several helpful instructional videos such as Getting Research Help Online, Using Permalinks in Fusion, and Locating the Full-Text from a Citation.
The American Library Association accredits 67 MLIS programs at 63 institutions in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.1 The MLIS degree is a requirement for most public, academic, and special library librarian jobs. MLIS graduates also work in other fields and professions such as instructional design, information architecture, and data science, to name just three. Many Gleeson Library | Geschke Center staff members over the years have chosen to earn their MLIS while working at the library, often bringing ideas and research from their master’s program studies to their varied and important roles at Gleeson, and vice versa. Completing the MLIS is a big accomplishment, and we are so proud of all of our Gleeson MLIS grads — most recently Ariana!
Last week, we chatted with Ariana about her graduate work in the MLIS program at SJSU. We’re grateful to her for sharing her experience with us.
Gleeson: Why did you decide to get an MLIS?
Ariana: I chose to get an MLIS because I have been working in libraries since high school and have met the most supportive and caring people throughout my experience. Without my high school librarian I would have never applied to a four-year university or seen the potential in myself! I knew nothing about college, the application process, or what college culture was like. She helped guide me through my FAFSA, essays, and understanding research in a college setting. Once I was a student at USF working in the Reference Department I saw how important access to information (both scholarly and campus-related) is for student success. What I appreciate most about libraries is the ability to preserve, document, and provide access to information and resources that challenge dominant narratives and assert the value of marginalized voices.
Gleeson: Did you have a focus or specialty in your MLIS program?
Ariana: I am interested in instruction and special collections so I took many courses on instructional design and archival metadata and preservation.
Gleeson: What was your favorite MLIS class? Why?
Ariana: My favorite course was Indigenous Knowledge taught by professor Rowena Koh. This course was the most challenging, thoughtful, and illuminating course I took while at SJSU. This course showed how information professionals have a responsibility to utilize a framework of decoloniality in all library practices. Decoloniality challenges the universality and centrality of Western thought and practices.2 It allows for the inclusion of alternative forms of knowing without judgement placed on which forms of knowledge are valued higher than others. In order for information professionals to understand and incorporate global perspectives, it is essential that they first understand their positionality within information structures that uphold imperialism and deny the existence and survivance of Indigenous peoples across the globe. Indigenous librarianship and decolonization are a global issue that affect cultural institutions, information professionals, and the communities they serve.
Gleeson: During your program, what was your favorite paper or project? Why?
Ariana: My favorite project was for my Curating Exhibitions from Archival Collections course. I created a proposal from an exhibition at the Freedom Archives that focused on the revolutionary art of Emory Douglas. I interned at the Freedom Archives during my undergrad so I was excited at the chance to incorporate this awesome organization in my coursework. I selected images from their digitized collections to show the importance of Douglas’ art during the Black Panther movement and share the narrative of the Black Panthers through a community perspective. I also incorporated community participation in the exhibit and events to avoid the de-contextualization of information that often happens in traditional exhibit spaces.
Gleeson: Favorite or most influential grad program reading?
|Roy, L, Hogan, K (2010) We collect, organize, preserve, and provide access, with respect: Indigenous peoples’ cultural life in libraries. In: Edwards, JB, Edwards, SP (eds) Beyond Article 19: Libraries and Social, and Cultural Rights. Duluth, MN: Library Juice, pp. 113–147.|
This reading is available at Gleeson: http://ignacio.usfca.edu/record=b2186549%5D
Gleeson: Tell us about research papers in grad school. How did you approach them?
Ariana: A lot of the research skills I learned at USF during undergrad were very helpful once in grad school. Citation managers like RefWorks are a lifesaver because there are so many sources and readings to keep track of. When approaching research papers I would brainstorm topics that I felt personally passionate about and think about how they related to the coursework. I then took helpful notes on my class readings so that I could find related passages more easily. It is the worst feeling knowing that you read something that would provide great evidence for your papers but not remembering where you read it! So I noted important quotes and their author as well as the page numbers. I also created outlines for my research to keep track of the various points and how they connected. Undergrad is a great primer for papers in grad school!
Gleeson: What was the most challenging class you took in your MLIS program? Why?
Ariana: Information Technology Tools and Applications – coding! In this course we created a website from scratch using our own coding skills. It pushed me out of my comfort zone but I am happy I did it because I think it’s important to challenge yourself and see what other colleagues in libraries do.
Gleeson: What’s your dream library job?
Ariana: My dream library job would be to work with public services as an instruction librarian in the special collections department of a library. I believe instruction librarians have a unique opportunity to connect communities to sources that highlight how history has unfolded for diverse groups and its continued legacy. I would like to make special collections seem more approachable to first-year and first generation students, while highlighting the importance of documenting diverse voices.
Thanks again and congratulations to Ariana!
2 Justice, D. H. (2018, August 21). Indigenous literatures, social justice, and the decolonial library [Webinar]. https://choice360.org/content/2-librarianship/1-webinars/68-indigenous-literatures/daniel-justice-acrl-choice-webinar.pdf