Freshly Minted: Alyssa Hyduk
March 21, 2016
MLIS Student, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta
Which information studies program are you attending?
I’m in my second year of the thesis-route MLIS program at the University of Alberta.
What are your current classes like? Which is your favorite so far, and why?
As I’m nearing the end of my course requirements and starting to work more on my thesis, I am actually only in one class for this semester, which is a Digital Libraries course. I find it a really intriguing course due to the variety of applicable circumstances in which knowledge of digital library systems would be important.
If I had to choose a favourite course overall, I would say it was a summer course I took on Administering Library Preservation, Security, and Risk Management. I have a fair bit of interest in archives and similar institutions, and this course brought to light not only that which could happen to physical documents and the necessary procedures to protect the contents of our institutions, but also what disasters could befall our institutions’ buildings and patrons. It was such a real-world class, focusing less on theory and more on practical application, that I felt it really brought home how diverse those of us in LIS need to be.
Is there one aspect of the profession that surprises you that you were not expecting when you started the program? What is it?
I suppose it would be the diversity in the profession. Going into the program, while I knew that it wasn’t going to be just about librarians working in a library all day, I was not prepared for such a wide spectrum of topics that an LIS program could prepare you for. If I think about research alone, there are professors in our program who vary widely from each other: from social informatics, to telecommunications policy and radio-spectrum management, to consumer health information; the variety is endless. I wasn’t expecting that, and it made the profession that much more appealing, knowing that I could apply my knowledge to such a wide field of interests.
What was it that initially drove you to librarianship?
It actually came from an idea I had generated in my undergraduate degree on what I wanted to work my thesis around. I did my undergrad in history and classics, and one project had me working on World War II veterans and cultural memory. For some reason the concept of cultural memory stuck with me over the years, but I couldn’t pinpoint what aspects of cultural memory I wanted to study. After poring through the variety of options I had for Masters degrees, the MLIS at the UofA seemed to stick. I knew in this program that I would be able to expand my cultural memory topic into relevant, real-world issues, and by looking at the research already being conducted in the department, I knew I would have the support I needed. Additionally, I’ve always been incredibly passionate about making information, (in my case, historical information), available to as much of the population as possible. It’s incredibly important that society knows their past, both the good and the bad, in order to understand how to forge a better future.
If you could work anywhere, and do anything with information, what would your dream job look like?
I would definitely be an archivist or a curator of antiquities. I would especially love to work with papyri and other textual documents, including their digitization and storage in a large, widely accessible online database. I have such a passion for the preservation of anything and everything historical, and I would love to be surrounded by such ancient history every day of my working career.
If someone were considering going to library school, what would you advise them about?
I would say don’t stress about not knowing what you want to do going into the program. There are so many options and routes a student could take that you’re guaranteed to find your niche somewhere. Also, it’s never too early to start attending conferences and events. Try to meet as many professionals as you can, in as wide a variety of LIS fields as you can. Not only will you be able to get insider information into what jobs are like, but you may potentially have made contacts that will be able to help you in the future. Oh, and don’t dismiss the thesis route-it may look like a longer road, but it’s such a rewarding experience and you’re helping to further your field exponentially.
What do you think is the most important aspect of being an information professional today?
Continuing to perform research. While I may be a bit biased here, I truly do think that more LIS professionals should be doing research-which is a tricky thing in our field, I know. Often the time or the funds simply are not there to conduct research while still performing all our other duties, and that’s where we need to advocate more. We are so tied to technology in ways that we often don’t think of, and every time technology advances, we have to keep pace with it as best we can. The more we can put into research, into ways which can make information access easier, further reaching, and more encompassing, the easier it will be for LIS to keep pace with our constantly changing society.