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Library Information Technology

Program Newsletter


Library Information Technology

Program Newsletter
Volume 2
Spring 2020


On behalf of the entire Library and Information Technology (LIT) faculty, I would like to welcome you to our community and to the second issue of our program newsletter! 2020 is proving to be an exciting year for libraries and those who wish to make a career in them. Society finally realized that the internet couldn’t replace libraries after all (as if …), and fake news and global disinformation campaigns constantly remind us that flourishing democracies require information literate citizens. The truth is that libraries and their practitioners have never been more vital than they are today, and the library job scene in the Upper Midwest is a testament to that. Opportunities for our graduates abound, particularly in the public library space. Be sure to check out our LIT program blog to see the latest library job postings from Metronet and

-Bill Vann, LIT Program Faculty  

"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!" 

-S.L., Public & Technical Information Services Certificates, 2012

front entrance of Wheelock Whitney Hall at Minneapolis College

NOTE: We publish a newsletter 2-3 times per year (Fall, Spring, sometimes Summer) and would love your suggestions and contributions for future content. Please share this newsletter and invite others to subscribe. We hope you enjoy!

Fall 2019 Events

This is our second year of hosting our Fall LIT Events in tandem with LIBT1100: Information Agencies. The motivation was to build programming and community into our courses, without overburdening our online students with extracurricular  commitments. Four Saturdays of the Fall semester were set aside for students to do different activities, learn about librarianship and meet each other. 

This is what we did:

Panel Discussion on Equity in Library Science & Librarianship + Finding a Library Job with Saint Paul Public Library and Minneapolis College Career Services

Saturday, October 12th

Jay Williams (Minneapolis College, Cheir Diversity Officer), Alexis Hailey Brown (Hennepin County Library, SCOPE Intern and Librarian), Honee Jam Collins (St. Paul Public Library, Library Associate), Amy Mars (Saint Catherine University Library, Reference, Instruction and Outreach Librarian), and Melissa Kalpin Prescott (Saint Cloud State University Library, Diversity & Inclusion Librarian)


"Before this panel, I couldn’t have told you the difference between equality and equity, so I’m exactly the sort of person who needed to hear about these issues." - LIBT 1100 Student

Library Visits

Saturday, November 9th 

Students enjoyed visiting Quatrefoil Library and East Side Freedom Library as well as hearing from presenters during their visits. 

Speed Networking & Social Hour

Saturday, December 14th

This was our second year doing this fun event. This year, eight library professionals (many of them LIT alumni) were invited to campus for speed interviews. In the spirit of speed dating events, LIT 1100 students are given brief bios of each guest ahead of time, and when the bell rings, they get approximately 3 minutes to speak with each invited guest to ask them any question they want. The result is an energizing, informative, and network building experience for all involved!

Save the Date! Spring 2020 Events

Spring events are not tied directly to courses, but there will be extra credit opportunities and extracurricular relevance to this year's programming!

Here's what we plan to do:


Saturday, April 4th | 10am-3pm | Minneapolis College Library
Zine Collection Presentation & Tour + Zine Cataloging Workshop + Working in Libraries workshop or panel 

MLIS Summit!

Monday, April 20th |  5:30pm - 8:30pm | St Catherine's University
St. Kate's Annual MLIS Summit + screening of Change the Subject and panel discussion with Tina Gross, Violet Fox and Karla Jurgemeyer

More information will be sent to student enrolled in courses this spring and posted to the LIT Blog.

Meet our Faculty: Tom Eland 


What would you like to say as your introduction?

I’d like to say how fortunate I was to get hired at MCTC back in the fall of 1995. I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the most creative and passionate library faculty and staff in the state. My job at MCTC has provided me with a great deal of flexibility and allowed me and my library colleagues to develop and implement creative programs in the library as well as innovative courses in Information Studies and a Library Information Technology career program. Few academic library jobs provide such flexibility and creativity, and few colleges allow for the type of cooperative self-management that we have in our library. 

What attracted you to Minneapolis College’s Library Information Technology Program?

Well, nothing actually attracted me to the program since I was one of two lead faculty that developed the program in conjunction with my other library faculty colleagues. The Library Information Technology Program was conceptualized and developed primarily by myself and Ginny Heinrich, who subsequently left for Macalester College in St. Paul. Anne Ryan and Julie Setnosky, both retired from MCTC, also helped in the development of the program. When our academic vice president asked us if we would be interested in developing an associate’s degree program in Library Information Technology since none existed in the entire upper midwest, we jumped on the offer. Minnesota previously had a number of library technology programs, but most closed in the 1980s. So we did some research and examined the curriculum of other 2-year colleges around the country. Ginny Heinrich and I had been library technicians before we decided to go to graduate school to get our MLIS degrees. We both respected the work that library paraprofessionals did, and knew that going forward library paraprofessionals would need a higher level of professional education than what was standard in the past. When we looked at the existing associate level degree programs we were a bit disappointed by the overall lack of academic rigor in their curriculums. As a result, we decided to develop a degree program that in many ways mirrors the standard required curriculum of a graduate LIS program of 20 years ago. We did of course recast the curriculum for the undergraduate level, but the required courses in our Library Information Technology program reflects the foundational coursework that you would find in a traditional graduate library school program. We felt such a level of education was necessary since most upper level paraprofessionals perform the duties previously done by professional librarians, especially in the public library and special library settings.

What projects (past/present/future) are you excited to be working on?

The most recent project that I have been excited to work on was the development of our four new Research Methods classes in our Information Studies department, and our attempt to move the liberal arts information literacy competency requirement from the A.A. degree to the 40 credit Minnesota Transfer Curriculum. Our four new Research Methods classes each have MnTC goal 2, Critical Thinking, in addition to one of the MnTC goal 7 - 10 areas (Human Diversity, Global Perspective, Ethical and Civic Responsibility, and People & the Environment). These new classes are three credits and will provide students with a deeper exploration into academic research and a thematic focus. We also plan to work with subject area faculty and pair the classes with courses in English Composition, Communication Studies, the Social Sciences, and Environmental Studies.

What do you see for yourself in 5 years?

In five years I see myself being one year from retirement. I turn 59 in April and my goal is to retire at 65. My wife is already retired and I have my summers off (another wonderful aspect of my job), and we travel a lot. We just bought a teardrop camper (a nuCamp TAB 320 CS-S for anyone really interested) and plan to do a lot of camping at state and national parks in the U.S. and Canada over the next ten years.

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

The library field is ever changing. If you want a career in libraries you will want to become familiar and comfortable with all types of online systems and computer technologies. You will also need to develop good people skills since more library positions require interaction with people on a daily basis, whether that be assisting library patrons at a service desk, working collaboratively with library staff, or doing community outreach and project development work. You should also consider the level of library work you wish to do. Our LIT program provides students with a great foundation for a paraprofessional position and entry into the profession. But if you wish to have more professional autonomy and decision making ability, you will eventually need to earn a master's degree. However, as many of our past graduates have discovered, they are able to get good library jobs with benefits after graduating from our program and then go on for either their bachelor’s or master’s degree and have their tuition reimbursed by their library employer. And when it comes to applying for a job, there is nothing like previous library experience, either paid or as a volunteer, to help boost your chances of getting hired.

Anything else you’d like to share?

The only other thing I’d add is that people interested in library work should think outside the box. The knowledge and skills taught in our program, as well as at the graduate level, can be used in many other fields. My first job out of library school was to set up the Minnesota Adult Literacy Resource Center. They were looking for someone to help them develop a resource center that would be part of a national network to provide resources and training to adult basic educators. They hired a few librarians at the state resource centers and at the National Institute for Literacy to work with adult basic educators to collect, organize, and share unique educational resources across the nation. There are many such unique job opportunities in state and federal agencies, as well as in law firms, indexing companies, hospital systems, and corporations. More and more organizations are looking for people with the knowledge and skills to organize and disseminate information, so it is worth thinking about pursuing a job in a non-library information occupation if such is of interest to you.

Fall 2019 Topics Course Recap:
"What a great class it was!"

Last semester, Faculty Librarian Rebeca March piloted a brand-new LIT program topics class: LIBT 1410 Unpacking Inequities in Libraries. In this 1 credit, 8-week class students examined biases, overt and hidden, in library and information services that might keep underrepresented individuals from feeling welcome in libraries and library professions. How do libraries maintain their dedication to freedom of information, speech and access while ensuring that everyone in the library feels comfortable and welcome and that all voices are included in conversations in and about libraries? How do we make sure that our own biases and those of the dominant culture don’t affect the materials and services we do and don’t collect and provide? How do we break down biased and elitist barriers that keep underrepresented candidates from becoming librarians?

These questions and more made for an engaging and challenging course, as students performed “equity checks” on local libraries and engaged in thoughtful and meaningful class discussions about library spaces, collections, outreach and hiring. What a great class it was! We plan to continue to integrate equity into our LIT program curriculum and may offer this course again in the future. Stay tuned!

Q&A with LIT Student Karla Tapia Vizcarra

My name is Karla Tapia Vizcarra, I am a first-generation Mexican student. I’m a believer in information literacy and providing informational equity to all, but I root for those who are under represented.

What attracted you to the Library Information Technology Program?

Taking an information agencies class with jenny sippel attracted me to joining the LIT program here at Minneapolis College. I was in a space where I needed to figure out what I was trying to get out of my college experience aka decide on a major. Not only was jenny a instructor of the class, she was also a librarian here. She advocated for libraries and the work they do to provide access to information. We had a project where we had to visit 3 different libraries and by the end of project, I knew I wanted to become a librarian. I joined the LIT program and got a job at the Minneapolis College Library the next semester.

What projects are you excited to be working on?

Past projects I have worked on include participating in a pop-up hiring event for a substitute position for Hennepin County Library and attending the Minnesota Library Association conference as a panel speaker talking about my experience with a pop-up hiring process and how these pop-ups break down barriers to create a more diverse and equitable work place for black, indigenous, and people of color.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I am hoping to have graduated from a university and pursuing a master’s in library science. I am hoping to have put down a mortgage on a two level house, with the bottom half being a day care that my best friend will be running (achieving her dreams of being her own boss). I am hoping to have a permanent library job wherever that will be. I am hoping to be apart of a more inclusive work space and society. I am hoping to be secure in all aspects.

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

You will be surprised where a year will take you. Take your chances, even if you don’t think it will do much. Manage to put that foot in the door, it opens up an immense amount of opportunities. Ask for help. Speak up for what you need and speak up for what you want.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Minneapolis College Library is hiring! It’s a great way to get hands-on experience and library experience to later put on a resume.

Featured Student Project: Podcasting!

Check out two of Kiki's school projects:
1200 Technical Services: serials crisis and 2200 Cataloging and Metadata: exploring RDA, FRBR, and FRAD

Hi, I’m Kiki! I’m not from Minneapolis originally but I am a Midwest native, having grown up in St. Louis, Missouri. I enjoy cooking and spend a lot of time at home in my kitchen, but I also like to read (historical nonfiction and mysteries are my two favorite genres), work on jigsaw puzzles, listen to podcasts, stay active, and attend the Minnesota Orchestra. As someone who never had much of a green thumb, I’m particularly proud of my growing, healthy collection of houseplants, no thanks to my two cats.  

When I began to explore going back to school, I wanted to explore a program that had a more direct correlation to future employment than my previous major earlier in my college career. I have always loved libraries and I thought that I might enjoy working in them, so I began the program with an exploratory mindset. But I knew very soon into my first semester that I was in the right program. 

I will be graduating from the program in the spring, so I am excited to finish my last semester. Next fall I will be transferring to Metro State next fall to start work on a bachelor’s degree in History; getting my bachelor’s degree means a lot to me, so I really look forward to that. Also, this spring I am getting married! Although I’m not loving the amount of work that goes into planning a wedding, I am really excited for ours, especially because we are getting married in New Orleans. It’ll be really special for us, and I think it’ll be a lot of fun. 

In five years I want to be working on my MLIS degree, and if I’m feeling really ambitious, maybe another Master’s in History. 

I think the LIT program is unique in the way it works to combine practical knowledge with abstract thought, and I’ve loved having the opportunity to explore ideas and concepts around libraries and knowledge in addition to learning about day-to-day operations. All of the Library Information Technology instructors are wonderful, warm people, so don’t be afraid to reach out to them. The online-only format was new to me when I started and it took some time for me to get comfortable but communicating with and meeting the instructors helped me get settled. And if you have the opportunity, work in the college library! 


LIT Alumni Perspective: 
"I love working in libraries"

Honee Jam Collins holding a bookHello! My name is Honee Collins. I am from Philippines and I have been living in Minnesota for seven years. I love to read graphic novels, realistic children’s fiction and try to keep up with new movies. I have a three-year-old, work full-time and study full-time as well. I am the kind who never stops until I drop. I love to keep my hand full of things to do and to keep up with new technologies and knowledge in the field of Librarianship.

When I was young I’ve always wanted to be a Teacher but that never worked out. I wanted to be one because my Aunt is a grade school Teacher. In 2010 through 2011 I studied Bachelor of Arts in Education with a major in Special Education. It is a great degree but when I moved to Minnesota I wanted to do something different. Something that is a relatable degree and of my interest. I enrolled into MCTC’s Addiction Counseling program. I have always been curious about addiction because two of my family members struggle to defeat drugs and alcohol addiction. After a year in this program, I found out that Hennepin County Library have job openings and applied for a position. Not long after I received an email from Hennepin County Library about an offer to work with them and I took this opportunity. I first started as Public Service Assistant, now called Office Specialist II as an entry job. While working at the library my husband kept telling me to check on library degrees at Minneapolis College. I honestly did not know that the degree existed until I found a program description while I was at MCTC’s student service center. Right then I change and filled out the form to change my program to Library Information Technology. I must say that I learn a lot from all the classes I took in this program. From Information studies, cataloging, creating Indexes and Abstract, archives, Outreach visits, writing a grant and so much more. All this great classes and the information I learned helped me understand what libraries are for and the mission that each of the different system or organizations has towards providing a wide range of services to library users. During the last semester in the program, I had the opportunity to work with LIT faculty members and helped plan an event to help connect LIT students, faculty members, program alumni, and Hennepin County Library staff.  This experience helped develop my public speaking and leadership skills. A few months before my graduation, I received my promotion for the Librarian Associate position. Thank you LIT Team!

I am with a workgroup in the library that helps create trainings for staff. Most of the trainings give staff the opportunity to learn about online resources, new technology in libraries, and information about current and incoming projects. In the past, we provided a technology ebook workshop for senior library users at Edina Library. I am excited to plan another one for the upcoming year. One of my goal for this year is to connect with Edina community members through pop-up visits to local events. Another goal is to join the Social media team in the library.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my next steps after I finish my undergraduate degree this coming summer of 2020. What’s next? People always ask. I consulted my Supervisor, school adviser, coworkers and others in the library field. Everything comes down to making my own decision and it can be very hard. It is important to consider time and financial aspects when deciding any educational field. I am technically shopping for the best Master’s degree that will be beneficial to a future career or position in the library field. There you go, I said it, I love working in libraries. I see myself in a library as a Children’s or Youth Services Librarian (crossing my fingers) in five years.

I did not have any experience working in a library before. Guess what? It did not matter. What will matter though is to have even just a little costumer service experience. If you’re planning on pursuing this wonderful program, you have to learn to manage your time. It took me time to get used to taking online classes and going back and forth from one class to the next on the D2L (Desire to learn) website. Take your time to be familiar with this tool because you will be taking most of the classes online. Schedule a time to talk to your college adviser to learn more about the resources you can use at the college. I always take full-time classes (12 credits) and it can get crazy. Never overload yourself. Occasionally, I find myself not able to think or write anything for a research paper. If you ever feel this way in any classes you are taking, do not force yourself to write. Stop typing, breath, meditate, sleep or even watch that one movie you been dying to see. I find that by doing so, I am able to relieve stress and helpful ideas for any of the paper I am writing just comes.

LIT Alumni Perspective: "I'm in my element"

Morgan Strickland head shotHello! I’m Morgan and I am a Library Associate with the Saint Paul Public Library. I’m on the Saint Paul Collection Team and on the Adult Programming Team. I have my Associate’s degree in Library Information Technology and I recently got my Bachelor’s degree in History at Metropolitan State University. 

I originally went to MCTC to get my generals out of the way. I was still undecided on what I wanted to major in, but I was leaning towards an English or a Creative Writing degree. As I was hanging out at the college, I was browsing through the list of Associate’s degrees they offered and when I saw Library Information Technology, it sort of just clicked. It seemed like the perfect career choice for a bookworm like me! It also seemed like the perfect way to combine my love of learning with my love of helping other people learn. I’m quite glad I browsed through that list, otherwise I would have been on quite a different career path. 
I’ve been working in the Saint Paul Collection for the last two and a half years and I have really enjoyed it. The collection focuses on the history of Saint Paul and the places and people in it. Some of the highlights of the collection are the Saint Paul High School yearbooks, the Saint Paul City Directories, and the Saint Paul newspapers on microfilm. Currently, I’m working on a number of projects that involve cataloging and indexing what we have in the Saint Paul Collection. This involves updating old card catalogs and entering the information into searchable spreadsheets, going through vertical files and reorganizing the subject headings, and indexing old newspaper clippings that aren’t in the best condition. It sounds boring, but I’m in my element when it comes to this sort of thing, and if it helps librarians and patrons navigate our collection better, then it’ll all be worth it!
 In 5 years, I expect to be pursuing my Master’s in Library Science. I’m still not 100% sure where I want to go with my library career, but my experience in the Saint Paul Collection does make me lean more towards archival and preservation work. At the moment, I’m quite happy at the Saint Paul Public Library and I don’t expect to leave any time soon. I’ll continue to work with SPPL while getting my MLIS and after that, who knows? 
While I absolutely love working in the library, I found reading about working in the library to be a bit tedious. In my opinion, the textbooks don’t fully illustrate the rewards and challenges of working in a library. You get to interact with so many wonderful people and you truly get to learn something new everyday! I don’t want to disregard the importance of the LIT program in anyway! I learned a lot and that information was very helpful as I entered the library world and I still use what I learned today, but there were times during the program that I questioned if this was the right choice for me. Actually working in a library helped alleviate these concerns. So I want to tell everyone not to give in just because a textbook is difficult to get through, file the information away for later and keep at it! Working in the library makes it all worthwhile!
Working in a public library is a perfect way to bring your other hobbies into the workplace. Love reading? Help start or run a book-club! Love board games? Host a board game night for the whole family! Movie nights, knitting circles, and story-times are all very popular programs in a lot of library systems. Public libraries are always looking for programs to get more people from the community into the space. Libraries aren’t just for quiet study time anymore! A lot of library systems are investing in Maker Space technology like 3D printers, recording studio equipment, laser engravers, and more! So if you’re looking to work in the public library setting, take a look at what the library system offers by way of programs and see what you would like to get involved in! 

LIT Alumni Perspectives:
"There is a satisfying feeling when your heaps of music are finally organized"

Krista Palmquist head shotMy name is Krista, and I am a singer and voice teacher with a passion for all types of libraries. Six months ago, I earned my Library Information Technology certificate from MCTC. Two weeks later, I began working as a sub specialist with Hennepin County Library!

Like a lot of musicians, I live the gig life, so I needed the flexibility of an online program. Also, my oldest son went to Minneapolis College, so I was already familiar with the school.

While in school at Minneapolis College, I began a project on TinyCat that was really fun. I took my personal vocal music collection with the intent to catalog each item and make my music scores available for lending to other voice teachers and singers. There is a satisfying feeling when your heaps of music are finally organized and tagged according to language, music period, level of difficulty, composer, poet, publisher, genre, language, and more! With TinyCat I can purchase a little hand scanner and barcode stickers for when I’m ready to lend out to people.
Another really fun project I also began to work on as a student was indexing my mother’s unpublished book of our family genealogy. There are people in my family who went by their Swedish names, Latin versions of their Swedish names, Anglicized their names, changed their names at Ellis island, named all their boys John, you get the picture. I would do my family a service by indexing my mother’s work so that readers will be able to figure out just who is who!
In the future, I imagine I will gradually do less gigging and more library work and my dream would be to work in academia.
My advice to future students is, keep your minds open to possibilities and say yes to opportunities in front of you. Don’t say no simply because of a perceived obstacle.

LIT Alumni Perspective: 
"Be willing to be surprised!" 

Jo Walter head shotHello. My name is Jo and I graduated in the spring of 2018. I’m a single mother of two great young men who are 17 and 21. My passions are sustainable agriculture, the tiny house movement, intentional community, and history and genealogy. With help from a cousin who also dabbles in genealogy, I recently solved a 109-year-old family mystery by analyzing my DNA matches and by using traditional paper-trail genealogy. My genealogy detective skills were taken to the next level after I took Online Searching & Reference Services! To the list of my passions, I must add libraries and archives, of course!  

Presently, I work in records management as a records specialist in a Records/Archives department. I am responsible for physical and digital records organization, processing, and scanning. I also apply metadata to these records in our digital repositories. Another of my job functions is to provide research support to the Records Management and Tribal Archives staff by deep-diving into digital repositories and into our physical holdings.

Prior to enrolling in the LIT program, I had been thinking of getting a library degree for years, but I co-owned an organic farm and I was raising my family and the time never seemed quite right. I contacted Minneapolis College about the LIT program many years ago and Tom Eland replied to me right away. I tucked that information in my back pocket and pulled it out when a divorce upended my life and I needed a Plan B. The faculty in the program are working librarians and that played a big part in me choosing this program.

Currently, our organization is in the process of re-imagining its three libraries, including our department’s own research library. Three of our four staff members have library degrees and we are heavily involved in each of these library projects. We are conducting a full inventory of all libraries. After the inventories are completed, we will move on to making recommendations for collection weeds and writing check-in and check-out procedures. I developed a community needs assessment survey for one of our libraries that I hope will be implemented. Thank goodness for that Library Community & Outreach Services class! We are also considering an ILS replacement and are thinking through what kind of system would meet the needs of our three distinct libraries. I work with back-dated historical documents and often I have to come up with the file names for documents that will be housed in a digital repository. I credit the Collection Organization and Metadata and Indexing & Abstracting courses with sharpening my thinking skills. Every wordy document does usually have one main subject and I try very hard to incorporate that main subject into our document names. I love this aspect of my work because I enjoy the challenge of getting down to the essence of a record.
Down the road I’d love to be a full-time Archival Assistant, preferably one housed in a university library. If I were to seek further training in the area, I could also see myself working as a cataloging assistant. 

My advice to current students is to get a library position while you are studying. If it’s not paid, volunteer in whatever capacity you can! You need to be able to put your coursework together with real library work. Both will be more meaningful if you do.

Be willing to be surprised! I was sure I wanted to work in a public library setting. The thought of working in an archive didn’t even cross my mind. Now I dream of how to land full-time archival assistant work that pays me well enough to support myself and my family.

As for handling your coursework, my best advice is just do it and don’t procrastinate. I designated a day each week for each course and worked primarily on that course on its assigned day. I used weekends for tying up loose ends and submitting assignments. That method worked for me. You need to experiment to find a system that works for you. It’s an intense 2 years if you do the program full-time and you are working, but you can do it if you have a plan! 

Finally, your internship is very important. Don’t wait until the last minute to find one. Take it every bit as seriously as if it were a permanent position. A good impression opens doors and you’ll need good references to land that first job. I’m still in touch with my internship supervisor. I value that professional relationship and the experience I gained while working in a university archive.  

Best wishes!

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