Monday, September 21, 2015

I Came, I Saw, I Inventoried

This past summer I was a graduate collections intern in the library/archive of the Witte Museum in San Antonio, Texas. It was not my first internship but it was probably my best. I got a lot of hands-on work experience, I was able to observe the everyday functions of a real workplace in my field, and I received great feedback from some awesome professionals who have helped me further my understanding of what I want to do when I grow up and/or graduate.

 I know that an internship can seem intimidating when all you have is a vague notion of what one involves, a few horror stories from folks who have done them, and a bunch of paperwork with deadlines. Figuring out where you want to put your blood, sweat, and tears for a good chunk of time (and probably without pay) can be stressful. But I promise that the hoop-jumping can be worth it, especially if you actually (at least kind of) know what you’re doing when you’re heading into it. Here’s a few things that I’ve learned about internships:

1. Know what you’re looking for before you apply. What do you want to learn through this internship? Is it experience with a particular skill set, or working in a certain kind of place? Are you only going to look in the area where you live, or are you willing to intern somewhere else? (Some internships come with lodging, others are conveniently located near good friends or family with a spare room/couch). Do you want to do a little bit of everything, or focus in on particular tasks? Whatever you want, there’s an internship for that.

2. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. The Witte (where I worked this past summer) doesn’t actually publish information regarding internships, so my application started with me taking the first step (and a really deep breath) and asking. If there’s an institution which you would love to work in, go ahead and see if you can get some experience volunteering or interning there.

3. Look before you leap. Do your research, because you can potentially end up in a bad work environment if you sign an internship contract without knowing much about your host organization. Visit the institution, look into their organizational goals, observe how staff members interact with each other, familiarize yourself. Know what you’re getting into before you sign on the dotted line.

4. Be passionate. Internships are not for the faint of heart; they can involve long hours, large amounts of menial labor, and living on a combination of sheer enthusiasm and pixie dust. Before you invest yourself make sure it’s for something you care about, not just trying to add another line on your resume.

5. Have fun. This may seem like the opposite of everything I’ve said thus far, but it’s not. Internships are about rolling up your sleeves and getting some life experience in your field of choice. Even when there are challenges, you can still end up learning a lot. And those bumps in the road are part of what make the adventure interesting. (Plus there’s always the regular fun stuff, like exploring new places, meeting new people, getting to be a shameless tourist, eating fresh TexMex…)

Get outside of the classroom and your comfort zone, try new things, do stuff. And then tell me all about it, because I love swapping stories. (Speaking of stories, if you want to read more about my recent internship adventures check out my blog:

Megan Coker
MLIS Candidate
LISSA; Social Co-Chair

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Professor Spotlight: Dr. Clayton Copeland

Dr. Clayton Copeland (right) with her former elementary school librarian--and inspiration--Mrs. Ellen H. Ramsey

1. What made you become interested in the library and information science field in general?
I have always loved reading and libraries. Many of my earliest and happiest memories are in the library. I was particularly inspired my by elementary school librarian, Mrs. Ellen Ramsey and then by my middle and high school librarian, Mrs. Vicky Culbertson. Both are SLIS alums, and I count it among my greatest privileges to have known and worked with them.

From the time I was in elementary school until I graduated from high school, I worked in the school library as an assistant. I knew I wanted libraries and all that they stood for - learning, inquiry, knowledge, and opportunity - to be my life's work. The library was such a peaceful, tranquil place to me, a place where happy days were made happier and challenging days easier. No matter the burdens of my heart, somehow opening the library door, finding just the right book, and cuddling in a soft comfy chair made everything seem o.k. again. All of my worries seemed to be carried away by the gentle rustling of turning pages. My book journeys allowed me to discover both far and distant places and places within myself. Books gave me the gifts of learning and self acceptance.

Perhaps it is because libraries were the places where I came to love learning and to embrace differences that I came to love finding myself in their midst. From kindergarten forward, every spare moment was spent in the library. I joined the profession because I wanted to share all that libraries and librarians had shared and meant to my life with others.

2. Where did you earn your MLIS and Ph.D, and what did you appreciate about that program?
I earned both degrees from the University of South Carolina's School of Library and Information Science. I have always loved learning and have sought challenges and rigor, for it is through these that I believe we continue to learn and grow.

I began the SLIS program because I respected the reputation of the school, its faculty, and staff, and I have never once questioned my decision or had anything but gratitude for being exactly where I am. I have never wanted to leave, and while one can never be certain of life's journey, I hope to always be a part of the SLIS "family." The School's reputation caught my attention, and the "family" that is SLIS kept it and captured my heart. For all that SLIS has been and is to me, I want to be a part of our students' journeys and to help SLIS be all that it has been for me for others.

3. Prior to joining the SLIS faculty, do you have any other career experience in the library and information science field?
I have worked in various types of libraries in numerous capacities since I was a very young child. To this day, after more than 20 plus years of working experience in libraries and a lifetime of patronage, nothing makes me happier than seeing the eyes of a precious child light up when he or she comes into the library. For children and adults alike, the library is a magical place. People often come to the library with questions. Whether their questions relate to scholarly research or to life itself, the library has the power to help them find answers. Both as a library and information science professional and as a recipient of the power of the library to educate and help its patrons, I know the profound difference libraries can make.

4. What are some of your research interests?
Honestly, I am like a kid in the candy store, and it seems I always have my hand in the cookie jar. There are so many facets of our field in which I find interests, areas that give me pause and ignite my seemingly unquenchable passion for learning. I teach courses in information literacy, using information resources, planning library facilities, children's and young adult materials and programming for underserved populations, and Universal Design, and equity of access.

Libraries have an unmatched power to make a difference in the lives of each and every patron coming in their doors. With technological advances and storehouses of knowledge, libraries have the power to help patrons belonging to all demographics achieve their goals. My hope is that by working together and taking things one day and one step at a time, we can make libraries accessible to all members of the populous. Each and every person on earth has a mission in life – a purpose.

Cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and physical differences leave us all with unique challenges and barriers to overcome. Rather than leaving us with “disabilities” however, these differences leave us “differently able” to achieve. In future research, I hope to continue focusing on how libraries can be made more accessible and user-friendly to all patrons and library staff.

5. What advice or tips do you have for aspiring librarians in the program?
Always believe in yourselves and in your abilities. You are destined for work that only you can achieve, so always keep striving, never settle, and always, always, always keep your minds and hearts open to learning. Be the faces and the voices you want to see and hear in libraries and information centers. You are the present and the future of our libraries and information centers.

6. What do you think of student associations, such as LISSA?
They rock! Student Associations like LISSA are second to none because they help us find our professional voices and set us on the path for professional engagement and leadership throughout our careers.

7. Is there anything else you would like to say?
Thank you kindly for this opportunity. I am truly humbled and honored. Please always, always know that, along with the other members of the SLIS faculty and staff, I genuinely care about each and every student in the SLIS program. We are here to support and help you all in every way possible.

Monday, March 3, 2014

LISSA Officer Information

It’s time for March elections! Starting today, we will be accepting nominations for the positions of President and Secretary of LISSA. The President shall preside at all LISSA functions, head the Executive Council, and have the authority to appoint all committee chairpersons and to create new committees. The President shall also provide leadership and act as chief spokesperson for the organization. The Secretary shall handle and keep a record of all LISSA business and correspondence, including, but not restricted to: recording minutes at all LISSA meetings; keeping an up-to-date file on all members; informing members of all LISSA meetings and activities. Our Multimedia Chair, Robert Blank, will also be graduating this May, leaving an empty spot for the position. The multimedia chair is responsible for maintenance of the LISSA website as well as other duties concerning web development and e-mail accounts. This position is appointed by the President. If this is a role you would be interested in taking on, be prepared to let the incoming President know. Officers are expected to be active at meetings and, within reason, all other events. As such, officers must be Columbia residents, or live within reasonable proximity to the city. As of today, we will be accepting nominations until March 16th. Following that, we will have an election period lasting from March 17th through the 23rd. The election will be conducted via an online survey, with the winners being announced on the 24th. All applicants should plan to keep the evening of the 26th open as this will be our first officer’s meeting with the new elects. This meeting will occur prior to the guest speaker we have slated that evening. In order to nominate yourself, send an e-mail to me at with a brief paragraph stating your intention to run, why you want the position, any prior experience you have, and anything else that you want to share. This statement will be used as a “candidate introduction” on the survey page. Working as a LISSA officer presents a fantastic opportunity for professional growth, and I would encourage any interested members to run. I will also be happy to answer any questions you might have about the office of President. We will be discussing elections in further detail at Wednesday’s member meeting in Davis 112 at 7. If you have any questions, please join us then. -Morgan

Sunday, February 23, 2014

SLIS/LISSA Professional Website Workshop

The Professional Website Workshop will be hosted by Ashley Blewer, SLIS graduate and LISSA member. Here is information regarding it that she has provided.

Paired up with LISSA, I am hosting a professional website creation workshop on Saturday, March 1 in Davis College.

The goal is to give SLIS students/graduates a “leg up” on the competition in a very competitive field. Students can demonstrate their skills and display their work in a space where prospective employers can easily find them.

This is a ¾-day workshop to assist SLIS students or graduates (particularly soon-to-be or recent graduates) on developing their web presence for the LIS job market. The morning will consist a guiding through the process of domain registration and buying a web hosting plan, then continuing with a presentation on web presence and a guide to website development and creation. We will break for lunch (on your own), and the afternoon will be spent making your own website (with me there to help)!

We will be using the Wordpress platform, so no coding knowledge is necessary (but you should be comfortable with computers/the internet). I will provide guidance on how Wordpress works, how to choose a good Wordpress theme (and have pre-selected themes to advise on using), and what kind of content should be included on a professional website. By the end of the day, you will have a website to show employers how awesome you are!

Because this is a very hands-on workshop, RSVP is required (and space limited). Please respond to if you are interested in attending.

Note: The workshop is FREE but in order to participate, you will need to purchase a web domain and web hosting for a year (this is approximately $50). I will take you through the process on the day of the workshop.

Tentative timeline
10am start, greeting, presentation
12-1 lunch break
1-4 website building!

Please get in touch with any questions.

Ashley Blewer

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

LISSA Student Spotlight: Wenlan and Wenzhi Cai

Wenlan and Wenzhi

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Hi there! My name is Wenlan Cai (pronounced like “Tsai”). I am originally from Shenzhen, a big city in southern China that is very close to Hong Kong. I finished my undergraduate degree in China. But my major was not LIS or any other information science, it was finance!
I grew up in a very happy and sweet family. I have a twin sister who looks very similar to me. But we have different styles. My sister is more girly and I am more sporty. So it is not hard to distinguish us. Oh! By the way, my sister is also in SLIS!

What made you become interested in library science?
To be honest, I got into this field accidentally. The University of South Carolina was not the first university I studied at in America. I studied Information Technology Management at the University of Texas at Dallas last year. That was my first time getting to know information science and I found it really interesting! So, you guys may ask why I wanted to come to this country. My purpose for studying here is to experience real American culture and education which could not be satisfied in Dallas since there were many Asian students. After talking to a friend at USC, I knew this was a very good university with excellent teaching levels. At the same time, I didn’t want to give up the knowledge in information science. So finally I decided to learn library information science which I think can be a part of information science. Now I am here and I am truly glad I made a very good decision. I love this school! I love the professors! I love my classmates!

Do you have a specialization in library science?
My interest is information technology.

What made you decide to join LISSA?
As a graduate student, it is necessary to join an academic association related to my major. LISSA, as the only academic association in our school, organizes a lot of activities and provides a lot of useful information. So I can get some information about library information science and meet people whose careers are in LIS.

Is there anyone you look up to as an inspiration? (Does not have to be a library person, just someone you admire!)
Roger Federer! I think he is a perfect man with a great personality and awesome tennis skills.

Can you tell me some interesting facts about yourself?
I am a traveler and adventurer! I love exploring new places. I am also good at cooking Asian stuff. Just let me know what kind of Asian food you like, and I can try to cook for you!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Hello. My name is Wenzhi Cai. You can call me Gigi. It’s my English name and it’s easier to pronounce. I’m now 23 years old. I finished my undergraduate degree in China, majoring in international business. I have been in United States for a year and a half. Before I came to Columbia, I was in Dallas, Texas. I have a sweet and warm family. I thank my parents very much. Because of their support and understanding, my twin sister Wenlan and I have had the chance to study in the United States.

What made you become interested in library science?
One year ago, I knew nothing about library science, because in China, this field is not very popular. I knew this major from my family friend. She’s a Ph.D. student in SLIS. She strongly recommended this major to us. So, I started to learn about library science. I was surprised to find out that library science is such a multi-disciplinary subject. During my first semester study of library science, I am glad that I didn’t make a wrong choice. Library science has many professionals. I’ve found that I am interested in it very much.

Do you have a specialization in library science?
So far, my interests are information technology and digital libraries.

Is there anyone you look up to as an inspiration? My father. He teaches me a lot and always guides me to a right direction.

Can you tell me some interesting facts about yourself?
I like cooking, baking, traveling, and watching Korean dramas. I also like photography. I can make Japanese food, Korean food and Chinese food. I’m also interested in fitness and health, and in my spare time, I like reading articles about those topics.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mildly Attractive Men of SLIS 2014 Calendars Now Available

You probably haven’t even bothered to notice, but mildly attractive men are just about everywhere. It’s true. They’re shambling down the cereal aisle at the corner grocer. They’re fumbling around in their pockets for grubby quarters at the local Laundromat. Your sister knows a mildly attractive man and she likes him a lot, she really does, but it’s more like as a brother. Besides, she’s not at a point in her life where she’s looking for that sort of thing with, well, anyone really. Right now in America, a mildly attractive man is in his kitchen eating bread over the sink. One side is scarcely toasted – the other, which was charred to a crisp, is slathered in expired jam. Nobody should have to live like this. Someone needs to do something.

Someone has. Again.

The heroic males of the School of Library and Information Science have stood against the injustices foisted upon ineligible bachelors for seven consecutive years through the production of their Mildly Attractive Men of SLIS calendars. This year, our models have represented the one constant in the life of the painfully common man – retro video games. 

Pictured: the dawn of a glorious new golden age

For less than the price of eight cups of coffee a day, you can support the efforts of our mildly attractive men. Your contribution won’t just validate the work of our post-production team who probably just would have sat in front of a computer for a solid week anyway. Your purchase will support all our LISSA members, be they mildly attractive or classically beautiful, by generating funding for professional conference involvement and participation.

These calendars are handsomely bound.

Calendars are $15 each ($19 each for calendars that are mailed) and are available for purchase in the Office of the Director in Davis College (Monday through Friday, 9 - 4), through any LISSA officer, or by sending a check made payable to LISSA to:

LISSA c/o Angela Wright
Assistant to the Director
School of Library and Information Science
University of South Carolina
1501 Greene Street
Columbia, SC 29208

For mail-in orders, please fill out this form in case we need to contact you with questions regarding your order. Quantities are limited and hand packaged, so please allow a few extra days for delivery.

On behalf of all of our LISSA members and aspiring librarians, I would like to extend my gratitude for your support.


-Morgan Kinder
LISSA president, 2013-2014

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

University of South Carolina Tours Recap

Hi everyone,

LISSA is right in the middle of our September tours. Last Friday, our members were able to tour the Thomas Cooper and Ernest Hollings Libraries. The Thomas Cooper is undoubtedly familiar to all of our students, but we did get a quick look behind the scenes. Our newer members were also given a rundown of some of the special features and privileges that they may not have been aware of. The tour of Ernest Hollings took us behind the scenes of the South Carolina Political Collection, Digital Collection and Rare Books. Members were treated to memorabilia from South Carolina’s political movers and shakers and rare books and materials ranging from John J. Audubon paintings to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s personal ledger.

Monday’s tours were equally exciting – at the South Caroliniana our members were treated to information that covered the scope of the library’s collection, its policies and its history. Some of the storied history of USC’s campus, particularly the Horseshoe, was also touched on. Afterward, LISSA toured the Coleman Karesh Law Library. Members were shown the library’s collection, its circulation area and its technical services department. It was a great presentation of how law libraries function.

These tours were a perfect prelude to our big North Carolina trip coming up this Friday. We hope that all of our members can join us! If you plan to do so, please meet us on Greene Street in front of Davis College at 6 Am this Friday. We look forward to seeing you there!