How one intern promoted digital literacy in his community (and what he’s doing now)

Our 2014 Peter Lyman Memorial Scholarship Winner is a promising MLS student pursuing a duel Master of Archival Studies and Master of Library and Information Studies this fall at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. His impact as a librarian began long before he entered graduate school – as an intern at Longview Public Library, he maintained an online database of thousands of cultural and historical item and led a digital literacy program for K-12 students in his community which became the largest program in the library. Delighted to hear a little bit more about his work, we’ve asked him a few questions below.


1. Can you tell us a little bit about your work at Longview Public Library maintaining their online cultural and historical collection?

The Longview Public Library has digitized thousands of photographs from its archive. I worked with Karen Straube, the Technical Services Librarian, to import the digitized photographs into a database. The goal of the project was to preserve the contents of the archive–If the library had not taken steps to preserve the collection, historical materials may have been lost or damaged. The project also made the archive more accessible to the community by uploading the material to the World Wide Web. This provided an additional service to the patrons that already used the archive, and continues to attract new users to the collection. I found great satisfaction in being involved in such a worthwhile project.

2. Can you tell us about your work leading the digital literacy program? In your opinion, how did it become so successful?

I worked with Jan Hanson, the Youth Services Librarian, to develop the program. I think it was so successful because it addressed a need in the community—many library patrons had asked for a community space to learn how to use computers. The students that attended the weekly program learned how to use open source hardware and software, like the Raspberry Pi and the Linux operating system. I also wrote an ALA grant to expand the program by providing materials for a new computer lab. Through this program, many of the students learned how to be more proactive in their interactions with technology, and were able to transition from content consumers to producers. It was very rewarding to watch the students’ abilities and interests grow as they participated in the program.

3.What made you decide to pursue a degree in Archival and Library and Information Studies?

After graduating from Lewis & Clark College with a double major in computer science and psychology, I began volunteering at my public library. I enjoyed the work and quickly discovered how important the library is to the community. However, I also found that libraries are facing many challenges, including the difficulties integrating new technologies into the profession. As I continued to volunteer, I explored the idea of pursuing a master’s degree in archival, library, and information studies. I saw this as an opportunity to use my skills to make positive changes within librarianship.

4. In your experience, what type of an impact does new media have on library professionals today?

New media has had, and will continue to have, a large effect on information professionals. One facet of new media that I look forward to seeing developed further is its use in education. As more learning occurs online, educators must capitalize on the new capabilities of the medium. Enriching educational materials with new media will provide novel ways for students to interact with, and analyze, content. I think that this is an important field in which we must invest our time and efforts.

5. What type of work do you hope to accomplish in your future role as a library professional?

I hope to find a career where I can teach and continue my research on the development of digital libraries. In my immediate future, I look forward to completing my master’s thesis on computer-supported collaborative learning environments and pursuing a PhD in information studies.

For more information on Samuel Dodson’s award, click here.

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