"Through my involvement I honed my interests, discovered my strengths and weaknesses, formed relationships with other professionals and gained confidence in my abilities. And it was a lot of fun."
My name is Emily Gibson. I graduated from WSU SLIS in 2009 with a Master's degree in Library and Information Science and a Graduate Certificate in Archival Administration. After a six month job hunt, I landed a job in Miami, Florida. I didn't mind the move because I'd moved many times before.
I was born in England, but I've also lived in New Zealand, Australia and Canada. I moved to Detroit in 2000 from Canada. I got my Bachelor's degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Windsor in Ontario.
It took me a long time to finish my undergraduate degree. For eight years I divided my time between school, work as a waitress, and Detroit's punk rock subculture. However, I consider it time well spent as it was through my experience of Detroit's interwoven subcultures that I discovered my interest in regional and contemporary history.
My mom always wanted me to become a librarian. I didn't. I was a shy child and librarians scared me. But, I loved to read, so I developed my own book collection by sending in cereal box flaps (from a company promoting literacy) and asking for books for birthday and Christmas presents.
My dad bought me a small wooden book shelf and painted it pink, and I spent hours arranging and rearranging my books... alphabetically by author, by the author's nationality, by the location of the setting, by the color of their covers...
When I finally looked into what a degree in library and information science entailed, I became excited. I hadn't realized that what I was doing when I rearranged my books was managing information, playing with metadata and creating access points. My mom had been right.
I attended Wayne State University because it was in my backyard. I was unwilling to leave Detroit, so it was serendipitous that Wayne State University had a Library and Information Science program.
In my third semester, I still didn't have a plan of work (well, I did, but I had changed it three times). Then, I took Dr. Turrini's Oral History class and knew I wanted to be an archivist. Dr. Turrini's class introduced me to history's microcosms, worlds of raw unadulterated information waiting for the archivist's touch to make them accessible.
Now, I am the Collection Manager/Assistant Archivist at The Black Archives, History and Research Foundation of South Florida, Inc. (www.theblackarchives.org). Wayne State University School of Library and Information Science prepared me for my job by giving me a sound understanding of archival fundamentals, introducing me to the politics of information science, emphasizing the importance of computer literacy, and providing me with multiple internship opportunities. I heartily enjoyed my experience. I had many outstanding teachers and made many enduring friendships.
My advice to present and future students is to get involved, immerse yourself in the culture of your chosen profession. I did three internships, was treasurer of the WSU ASIS&T student chapter, worked in the SLIS computer lab, was on two academic committees, and assisted faculty members with research. Through my involvement I honed my interests, discovered my strengths and weaknesses, formed relationships with other professionals and gained confidence in my abilities. And it was a lot of fun.