Rebekah Brancato News Editor
Three undergraduate alumni from Eastern Connecticut State University visited Monday, March 28, to discuss their experiences getting their Master’s in Library and Information Science (MLIS) degrees and their careers in the library field.
The alumni included Eric Allen, Caroline Hayden, and Hillary Saxton. Eric, who graduated from Eastern in 2012 and received his MLIS from San Jose State University in 2014, is currently a high school librarian at Franklin Academy in Malone, New York. Caroline, who graduated from Eastern in 2013 and received her MLIS from the University of Maryland in 2016, is currently a digital sources administrator at the historical society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Hillary Saxton graduated from Eastern in 2012 and received her MLIS from Simmons College in 2014, and is currently a children’s librarian at the Cambridge Public Library in Massachusetts. The panel was moderated by Kyle Randall, a senior at Eastern majoring in English and minoring in communications.
When asked about what surprised them most about their field, Eric said that he was surprised at how technology and computers is involved in so much of his job. Caroline was surprised at the variety of areas you could go into and the various places you could work, such as law offices and corporations. Hillary said she’s surprised by how many new books are constantly coming out and being added to the library she works at.
Eric said the most rewarding aspect of his job, working in a high school, is being able to help students, whether that’s helping them find a book or writing letters of recommendation. “I love seeing that light in a kid’s eyes when you help them figure something out or get something done. Or even just finding a book that they really like.”
Caroline loves seeing the final product of her work and making materials accessible to the public around the world. “There are so many hidden gems in archives…there’s some really cool pieces of history that now everyone can access because my department digitized the material and created metadata records to make it searchable online.”
Hillary said she, similar to Eric, also enjoys helping kids, and seeing how kids learn and express themselves. “I never thought I even wanted to work with kids, but now that I do it, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else…It’s really rewarding to see how much the families care and how much the kids love it.”
While there is currently no American Library Association (ALA) accredited graduate program in Connecticut, as Southern’s MLIS program is still in the process of being accredited, there are two programs in New England: one at Simmons College in Massachusetts, and another at the University of Rhode Island. The alumni said that their programs were each 42 credits, which takes 2 years to complete as a full time student.