The San José State University School of Information has awarded five incoming students the Director’s Scholarship for Excellence for demonstrating enthusiasm for the information profession.
Using creativity and research skills, Mary Barnett, Kimberly Cole, Theresa Berger, Farima Kafai, and Lauren Abel were awarded $1,000 each for creating Pinterest boards that reflect their specific career interests. The Director’s Scholarship for Excellence “recognizes the potential of new students to serve as information professionals and take a leading role in shaping our profession.”
Barnett considers herself a “pretty hardcore Pinterest user,” but she wasn’t satisfied with her original board before curating the one she submitted for review, “My Magical Library (link is external).”
“My [Pinterest board] is an expression of who I like to imagine myself as when I close my eyes and go to my mind palace,” she said. “I wanted to create a place where your eyes can wander, you can sip a cup of tea beside a crackling fire, and you can explore gorgeous pins that represent both who I am as a person and as a future information professional.”
Barnett said she’s the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree and “my masters is a great undertaking.” The Director’s Scholarship for Excellence will help her cover the cost of tuition.
“I am so excited to continue my journey toward my goal of becoming a librarian, and this scholarship from SJSU will help immensely. I found out that I had been awarded the scholarship on my birthday when I was in Scotland, and it made my birthday trip so much more amazing,” she said.
As an active member of the Harry Potter fandom, Cole had no trouble deciding what the theme of her Pinterest board, aptly named “The Hogwarts Library School (link is external),” would be.
“The Hogwarts houses are an instinctive way for me to think about personality traits and social behaviors, and I knew I could come up with something valuable to say using those terms,” she said. “I wanted my board to include a balance of pins about what libraries can do in their communities, my experiences in the library world so far, and pins related to the Harry Potter theme.”
Cole, who manages the teen and graphic novel collections at a public library in Denver, said she would like to continue working in public libraries but hasn’t made her mind up about where she’d like to specialize.
“I love the large-scale creative events of children’s programming and the relationships you develop with kids and their families. But I also love the challenge of a difficult reader’s advisory question from a lifelong reader, and I’m curious to know more about Makerspaces. There are so many possibilities to explore,” she said.
A running joke among family and friends over Berger’s love of history and desire to become an archivist inspired her new student scholarship Pinterest board, “An Archivist? So you’re gonna steal the Declaration of Independence? (link is external)”
“I want to be Nicolas Cage’s character in ‘National Treasure.’ I thought about the film, its plot, and how much fun it is to watch, and I realized my experiences with archival science and volunteering in archives have been just as, if not more exciting,” she said. “So, I decided to run with the idea that indeed, I do want to have a career much like the adventure portrayed in the film, and there was my board: use images and quotes from the movie that embody what I love about archives.”
Berger said it was “humbling” and “validating” to be awarded the scholarship. She looks forward to refining her library science and archival studies skills, learning news ones such as coding, and making new connections while at SJSU.
“Not only did [the scholarship] relieve some of the financial stress I was experiencing as I geared up to start my first semester of graduate school, it also boosted my confidence in making the right choice to pursue a degree in library science. I am so glad my passions and commitment to the field were recognized,” she said.
Kafai spent several months casually perusing the Internet and collecting pins that caught her eye. As the application period approached, she decided she wanted to showcase the many services available at public libraries.
“I wanted to guide viewers through a day of discovery spent at the library, and that’s where ‘Let’s Play ‘I Spy’ at the Library! (link is external)‘ came into play,” she said. “What better way to stimulate the senses and spark curiosity than with an engaging game that invites exploration? I gathered programs and design elements from libraries around the world, and with the added twist of what you might hear, smell and feel, I created my own version of ‘I Spy,’ at the library.”
Kafai said she was “thrilled” to receive the scholarship, noting that it was a relief to have part of her tuition covered for her first semester at SJSU.
“I can focus more on my classes and less on finances. I’m really excited about the range of electives offered at the iSchool. I hope to try a bit of everything, from courses on library services for diverse communities to web design for improving the usability of information retrieval systems. I’m especially looking forward to learning about archives, records and preservation management and trying out different internships,” she said.
Using 29 pins organized by chapters, Abel’s board, “The Librarian Awakens (link is external),” follows the hero’s journey from “Padawan to “full-fledged Jedi.” In chapter 3 (link is external), she explains, “No padawan could ever progress to the Jedi trials without knowing a thing or two about coding. I was inspired to start a computer coding program for children after attending a training. This helps introduce youngsters to the ever evolving world of computer science. I hope to use my formal training to improve how I conduct such programs.”
Abel became interested in librarianship in her “schooldays” when she assisted a librarian. She now “eagerly awaits the start of her formal training to become a full-fledged librarian; a custodian of knowledge and information that aids others as they seek guidance through a galaxy of information known as the Internet.”
The Director’s Scholarship for Excellence is open to all first-time iSchool students who have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.5 and is funded by donations from faculty, alumni and friends of the iSchool. To date, 20 students have been awarded the scholarship to aid them on their journey toward earning a Master of Library and Information Science degree. For students who have been admitted to the MLIS program and are starting the program in fall 2017, applications will be accepted beginning Feb. 1, and the deadline to apply for a Director’s Scholarship for Excellence is May 1.
Thank you to the School of Information for this article.