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Library Information Technology

Program Newsletter


Library Information Technology

Program Newsletter
Volume 1
Fall 2019


In this inaugural issue of the LIT Program Newsletter, we will share program news and introduce you to faculty, students and alumni of the Library Information Technology Program. 

We hope to publish a newsletter 2-3 times per year (Fall, Spring, possibly Summer) and would love your suggestions and contributions for future content.

Please share this newsletter and invite others to subscribe. We hope you enjoy!

"Enrolling in MCTC’s Library Information & Technology (LIBT) program was one of the best decisions I have ever made!  I had decided to make a career change, but could not afford the high cost of graduate school. I found the LIBT program to be academically rigorous and the instructors to be engaged and committed to their students. The flexibility of the online class structure allowed me to find a healthy balance between school, work, and family life.  When I was halfway through the program, I was hired for a library-related job that I love!" 

Public & Technical Information Services Certificates, 2012

front entrance of Wheelock Whitney Hall at Minneapolis College


Hennepin County Library POP UP Interview/Hiring + Zine Workshop

On Saturday, April 6th, we had a wonderful day of programming that started with zines and ended with interviews for substitute positions at Hennepin County Library.  You can see the event promotion on the LIT Blog.

LIT faculty Elissah Becknell and jenny sippel offered a Zine Workshop, focused on the history of Minneapolis College’s Zine Collection, followed by Zine Cataloging and Making options. That afternoon, Hennepin County Library offered a 30 minute presentation about what it is like to work for HCL, and then conducted 15-minute interviews for two different substitute positions within the system. Almost all of the LIT students and alumni who interviewed were offered positions, and we hope to host more of these events in the future, both with HCL and possibly other library systems. Stay tuned!

LIT faculty jenny sippel organized a panel presentation for the Minnesota Library Association's Annual Conference, held in Prior Lake on September 19-20, 2019. The focus of the presentation was on sharing strategies for creating new pathways to jobs within HCL through partnerships with educational programs like Minneapolis College's LIT program, as well as St. Catherine University's MLIS program. 

Save the Dates for Fall 2019 events!

COMING UP! Saturday, October 12th | 10am-3pm -  Panel Discussion focused on Equity in Library Science & Librarianship + Finding a Library Job with Saint Paul Public Library and Minneapolis College Career Services (free community lunch from 12-1)

Saturday, November 9th - Library Visits! (9-11am Q Library, 1-3pm East Side Freedom Library)

Saturday, December 14th | 2:30pm - 5pm - Speed Networking & Social Hour  NOTE to LIT program alumni: if you are interested in participating as a guest for this event, please email 

More details on these events will be published on the LIT blog.

Contact to RSVP or for more information.

Fun News!

The newest LIT video is finished! It was created in cooperation with Minneapolis College PHDI Faculty Randy Johnson, and edited by Minneapolis College alum Jaisa Blegen. The video features two distinguished program alum, SJ Arroyo-Miller and Michaëlle Abraham, as well as LIT faculty jenny sippel, who helped produce the video. Enjoy!

Meet our Faculty: Elissah Becknell 

Hello! My name is Elissah Becknell. I’m a vegetarian who loves to cook. I enjoy camping and paddling in the North Woods and I’m excited to take my five year old on his first Boundary Waters Canoe Area trip this summer!  

What attracted you to the Library Information Technology Program?

This is kind of a long story. My first college degree is a Bachelors of Social Science with a Minor in Education. Rather than become a teacher, I decided to continue working in a bookstore because I loved the work and loved my colleagues.  One day, during a performance review, my boss and mentor told me I needed to get an MBA if I wanted to keep improving my place in the company. He sent me to an event that brought people from our corporate offices to meet people who did day to day work with the public in bookstores. I was keenly interested in giving my feedback on the database and internally managed search we used to locate books.  I had a great conversation with the person who managed metadata in the database and asked her how she got this job.  She told me that she had a Masters of Library and Information Science degree, which gave her the expertise she needed to manage and create databases. This intrigued me. I looked into a program and went from there.

While I was in school, I took up an internship in an academic library as a cataloging assistant. That led to another academic library internship as a reference assistant, and another as a research assistant to a professor.  My last internship was as a teaching assistant at Minneapolis College Library. Even though I started library school with the notion that I would work in with metadata and databases in a corporate environment, I fell in love with teaching and working with students at Minneapolis College. I feel lucky that my educational journey led here. This is fulfilling work for me.

What projects are you excited to be working on?

We just did a major migration to our new Integrated Library System: ALMA.  So, I have been cleaning up metadata and configuring our workflows through this system. I am so happy to be in a new system, it has functionality that I could only wish for in our last system.

I am a big fan of Open Education, as both a movement to create educational materials in collaboration with educators not concerned with copyright restriction and profits, and as a way to address the cost of education for students. I spent time last year working with my colleague Rebecca March to develop open education course materials for INFS1000: Information Literacy and Research Skills. We adapted an OER textbook from SUNY called The Information Literacy Users Guide for local use.  This spring is the first time I have taught INFS1000 using this adapted textbook and other course materials.

I’m one of the bigger promoters of our Zine Collection.  I work with jenny sippel and John Daniels to introduce this collection to St. Kate’s Students every spring.  Jenny and I collaborate with libraries and organizations that want to learn about zine history and making. This spring we developed zine making workshops for the Hennepin County Library Teen Tech Squad, Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council and the Minnesota History Center Teen Action Group.  This fall we will be collaborating with Hennepin County Libraries (Hosmer Branch) to create workshops at the Twin Cities Zine Fest.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I hope to still be here at Minneapolis College Library. If not, then maybe I’ll be working with databases, catalogs or digital asset management systems somewhere else.

What advice do you have for prospective or new students in the program?

It is good to have goals, but be open to the different jobs or organizations that are available when you graduate. I did not set out to be an academic librarian, I had no experience with that sort of work environment when I started graduate school. It was only through taking on internships that I developed my comfort with the job and found my place.

Alumni Update: Deb Sadowski

At the risk of sounding cliché, I am in my dream job. Thanks to my teachers at Minneapolis College, I was able to come into the job prepared. The courses I took helped with a lot of the nuances of the new job, Jenny’s classes [LIBT 2310 Outreach Services] helped me set up a program at the local assisted living facility that is allowing library access to people who cannot leave their facility. The first class [LIBT 1100 Information Agencies] where we went to the different types of libraries was also an eye opener because I had never realized how many types of librarians there are. I still network with the people I interviewed.  

Bill’s classes [LIBT 2300 Online Searching and Reference Services] allowed me to feel confident when my staff comes to me and says someone needs help on a computer and I don’t know what to do. One of the most beneficial classes I had was the internship [LIBT 2900] as it is so necessary to have that class to realize that not every library is the same. I had the attitude, after twelve years, “what can an internship teach me?”  Well, (Gibbs slap) a lot. 

Jane’s archiving classes [LIBT 1400 Archives] have really been a benefit because the city does not have a historical society, so guess who gets all the historical stuff?!

I want Ellisah [LIBT 1200 Technical Services and LIBT 2200 Cataloging] to know I made my first short record the other day. Knowing the ins and outs of metadata make me look like super librarian to my staff (super hero cape flying Deb nimbly make a new record). Yes, these were my scary classes but now I have seen the light. 

Thanks to all for helping an old lady achieve her dream!

Editor’s Note: Deb also shared the following explanation about how the LIT program helped her more quickly achieve her career goals of becoming a small library director in the state of Wisconsin:

Wisconsin DPI (that’s who gives out library grade certificates) usually requires 5 classes over 2 years for a class 3 license: small libraries under 3000 residents. The Minneapolis College LIT program provides such an excellent coverage of all the bases that I only had to take Advanced Public Library Administration (I’m taking it now online with UW Madison). This can give you a leg up on getting the job because the library has to pay for less courses.

Pictures of my new digs at Redgranite Public Library, population 2312.
library room with books on shelves library room with shelves of books

Student Project Feature: Presentation Video

Micheal Pulkka playing large brass instrument

My name is Micheal Pulkka and I am a student of Library Information Technology. Though this is my third year of part-time classes at Minneapolis College, it's only my second semester as an LIT major. I had previously been an Education major, but after my first turbulent semester of classes I decided to focus on my generals. Oddly enough, it was a suggestion from a customer when I was a cashier that initially piqued my interest. As I learned more and began taking the classes I only found more to love! 

For LIBT 1100 Information Agencies, our final project involved research and visits of three different libraries of our choosing throughout the semester. For my three I visited the Crooked Lake Library (Anoka County), the Minneapolis Central Library (Hennepin County) and the Gale Family Library (Minnesota Historical Society). With our experiences and research we each created some kind of presentation to share our findings with the class. The requirements were very open-ended and I ultimately decided to create and share a video on YouTube: 

There are three main reasons I decided on a video (and not just because I didn't want to present in person!)

For one, I knew that I wanted to try something other than the slideshow presentations I've done in the past.

The second reason is that I've always enjoyed making videos, if I never was that big into it. I haven't made any videos in a couple years now, and I thought this project might be a good opportunity to use that interest. Though, it was a unique experience in that I've never needed to record my own voice for a video before.

The final reason is that with our online class there were a number of students unable to make it to our different in-person meetings throughout the semester. Of course, in that our final meeting we would present our projects. I thought our online-only peers might appreciate a video as a substitute for making it in person!

I'm at the beginning of a journey that I never knew I was going to take. That said, in 5 years I hope to be doing meaningful work for an institution I care about, which is just about where all students hope to be! Even more specific, I'm finding myself most interested in a public library setting or even perhaps looking into archival work.

Advice: Preparing for/getting a library job! 

SJ Arroyo Miller close up

Hi! My name is SJ Arroyo Miller and I've been working for Hennepin County Library for about 6 months. I started at Eden Prairie and am now at St. Louis Park. 

I attended Minneapolis College's LIT Program from 2016-2018 and my first library experience came from working at Minneapolis College Library. Shout-out to the academic library squad! I highly recommend applying to work at Minneapolis College Library if you're work-study eligible and able to work part-time.

I hear it's much easier now to get a library job than it used to be, but it still took me 6 months to get hired for the job I have now. That's as someone who did my internship in the same library system I wanted to work in and had very positive references. So as a freshly-hired grad, my advice to new students in the program is: get your hustle on. 

If you don't already work at a library, you have to create ways for yourself to get exposure. Apply for library positions; volunteer at a library if you can; attend LIT networking events; do informational interviews. 

Take yourself on library field trips whenever you can. Notice how each library is organized. How do patrons use the space? What languages do you hear/see? What programs and resources are advertised? How do staff interact with patrons and each other? How are the libraries you spend time in different and similar? As you're taking it all in, imagine where you could see yourself fitting in and what you could contribute to the community and the space.

Lastly, back to getting your hustle on: spend some time in the Minneapolis College’s Career Services office. They can connect you to all sorts of resources and they'll still support you after graduation if you need help polishing your application materials. Best of luck! 

SJ Arroyo Miller standing next to library book display

Q&A with Recent Graduate Michaelle

Michaelle drinking from a glass

My name is Michaelle (phonetic pronunciation is me-kyle) and I am a recent graduate of the Library Information Technology student at Minneapolis College. 

What attracted you to the Library Information Technology Program?

I was in a very tough spot in my life, I had no sense of direction after failing a welding course. I needed to find a field that worked well with my personality. I'm resourceful, sociable, and passionate about sharing information so when I found this program I thought it was a great fit. 

What projects are you excited to be working on?

I'm excited to continue working on my podcast. I do a lot of research on Black History and find myself applying what I've learned in my Library and Information studies courses so that I can have a well developed script for the show. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I see myself working on completing my Masters in Library Information Sciences or pursuing a career in podcasting full time permanently. It could really be a mix of anything at this point. I'm open to all possibilities, I just know that I love to learn and share with others so if I can do that for the rest of my life as a career that would be great. 

What advice do you have for prospective or new students in the program?

I'd say keep an open mind about career prospects. This degree is the foundation of library work. As you complete your undergrad, you can work as a library assistant or associate librarian. If you decide to stay on the path to librarianship, pursuing an MLIS is much easier since you'll have the years of knowledge and experience under your belt, making you a viable candidate after completing the grad program. And just know that you can work in various positions. From records management to children's librarians, this field is quite flexible. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

Make sure you network! Networking is key. Even the most introverted people I've met manage to network and snag jobs that suit their needs. Work on your confidence and always trust your intuition before applying to certain roles. 

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