Following in your footsteps

It all began with taking a first step.

Meet Rosemary Pleva Flynn, MLS '00 and her son, Terence Flynn, a current student in the Luddy Library Sciences 4+1 Master’s program. With decades of history in IU’s Library and Information Sciences programs, Rosemary and Terence have seen the evolution of curating, organizing, and disseminating information throughout their generations. Here, they share the impact that Luddy’s ILS programs have had on their lives and how that impact spans two generations.

Rosemary's Story

Rosemary and her parents in front of Assembly Hall in 2000.

My Indiana University story began 6,720 miles away from Bloomington, IN. I was in Seoul, South Korea, where I was teaching English to kids. Even before moving to South Korea, I knew that I wanted to become an archivist and go to library school. In early 1997, the time was right to apply. When my application arrived in the mail, I set out to find a typewriter to complete it. But there were no typewriters. Even the lead teacher who was Korean got nowhere, even being told to check the museum! So I carefully wrote my answers on a photocopy, signed the original, and sent it all by airmail to my mom to type it up for me.

I crossed my fingers and hoped it all made it! It fortunately did, and I was accepted.

Since I had already done the poor graduate student gig once before, I decided that I needed to get a full-time position at IU while going to school. After securing a position as a secretary within the Department of Economics, I started the Masters of Library Science program. Since I was working, it took a little longer to finish all of my courses, but the support of the department and the tuition benefit for staff made it possible for me to complete the program without too much extra time.

Rosemary in her cap and gown in front of Assembly Hall in 2000.

Why the IU School of Library and Information Sciences (SLIS)? After comparing several schools, I knew IU was the right one for me. I did not apply to any other schools…I was that sure. I knew I wanted to be an archivist, but I also wanted to get a good, solid foundation in library and information sciences. IU’s MLS program allowed me to do that. At SLIS, I also was able to explore other classes beyond more traditional archives graduate courses including systems analysis and design. All of the courses I took had a profound impact on me and helped me become the information professional I am today. As the Principal Librarian and Archivist for the Energy & Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota, where I have worked the last 20 years, I work daily as an archivist, a records manager, and a librarian. My desire for that solid foundation and choosing to attend IU to get it, has certainly paid off!

After finishing my MLS, I had the fortunate opportunity to work with Phil Bantin, who was then the University Archivist, as the Project Archivist for the second phase of the IU Electronic Records Project. This experience gave me the opportunity to work alongside the first generation of electronic records archivists, IT staff, and many others at IU. It also ignited in me a desire to be a part of and make a difference in the understanding of electronic records through the Society of American Archivists (SAA). My courses in SLIS and all of my work experiences at IU gave me the confidence to put myself and my work out there for others to see. I am passionate about sharing what I have learned with others. As an active member of SAA, the Midwest Archives Conference, and the Academy of Certified Archivists, along with other organizations, I have served on committees, presented papers and moderated programs at several conferences, and been an instructor continuing education workshops.

Rosemary carrying the banner for SLIS as the graduate students processed in. Per Rosemary, "When Howard Rosenbaum was looking for volunteers I immediately said yes - it meant my family could find me!

One of the professional highlights that I am personally most proud of is leading the SAA Dictionary Working Group that has created the new Dictionary of Archives Terminology, found online at I am also very proud of the work I have been doing as the Regent for Exam Administration for the Academy of Certified Archivist (ACA). ACA is the national certifying body for archivists. When the Covid-19 pandemic began we were in the middle of the application period for the 2020 certifying exam. With a lot of hard work and late nights, I led the transition from a paper-based exam that was offered in several cities around the country to an online exam in three months, a process that would normally have taken a year. This also meant that we removed economic and travel barriers that prevented many archivists from being able to sit for the exam.

Given my various passions and my path in the information profession, I’ve come to think about information as being very fluid. Simply, the information being created today becomes what librarians and archivists collect, manage, preserve, store, and deliver for tomorrow. New research and creative endeavors draw upon this and the cycle begins again. But that information can look very different depending on where you are the process and what your role is. You provide the meaning based on your experiences. A big part of what I do is help connect you to the information.

I find that inclusion of the Department of Information and Library Sciences in the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering to be an exciting new adventure for information professionals. I wish I didn’t live 820 miles away from Bloomington now. I would love to be a fly on the wall so that I could be hearing about the various courses, research, projects and possible collaborations on a daily basis. I have recently joined the Luddy Alumni Board and look forward to learning about the now home of my beloved library school.

I am excited about still fairly new 4 + 1 program in Luddy that allows undergraduates get started on masters programs. What excites me even more is that my son, Terence Flynn, a senior at IU, has started the MLS program. His IU journey is his own. But I am definitely a proud mother and thrilled that he is making the courses and programs that meant so much to me a part of it.

Terence's Story

Terence with his mother Rosemary in 2019.

Coming to Indiana University was like coming home. Not only did both of my parents attend Indiana University (Rosemary Pleva Flynn, MLS ’00, and David Flynn, MA, ’98 and PhD, ’01), but I was born in Bloomington. Even after my family had moved to North Dakota for my parents’ work, we would occasionally visit Bloomington when traveling to the lower Midwest. On those trips, I saw the beauty and atmosphere of the campus and the town and was entranced by it. For my undergraduate education, I applied to – and was also accepted – into other schools, but IU was always at the top of my list.

But even with my desire to attend IU, I needed to balance the associated costs with the benefits. Coming to IU would be a dream come true, but as an out-of-state student the costs were definitely something I needed to think about. I had two scholarships but they did not fully cover what I needed. As such, I called the IU Office of Scholarships to see if there were other possible scholarships I could apply for. I told them that I really wanted to attend, but that the cost made it unlikely for me to be able to do so. Less than an hour later, I had an email letting me know I was awarded further scholarship money. IU’s generosity in giving me scholarships – made possible by donors – really let me know they wanted me to be a Hoosier.

Terence on the football field after a performance with the African American Dance Company (AADC).  The AADC joined the IU Redsteppers for a half-time performance on November 5, 2022.

Between AP and dual credits I earned in high school and the large number of credit hours I took in my first two years, I could have completed a B.A. in history with minors in Dance and African American and African Diaspora Studies within three years. However, I felt that there was more I could do. Plus leaving the scholarship money on the table didn’t sit right with me. So I decided to stay and finish my Hutton Honors College Honors Notation and continue studying and performing with the African American Dance Company.

During this time, I had also talked with my mother, a former SLIS MLS student, about the Luddy Library Sciences 4+1 Masters program. This program provided a really great opportunity for me because I was able to begin a graduate program while finishing up my undergraduate degree. When I got my acceptance email, I was ecstatic.The program provides me with an education and training that will be applicable to whatever I do in the future, whether I go for a Ph.D., a J.D., or decide to enter the workforce as soon as I’ve finished my MLS. 

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned in my first semester is how the library and information sciences require a general knowledge and training as well as a specific intention. Librarians are often called upon to be able to do everything in a library. Introductory classes like User Services and Tools help us understand the wide range of tasks librarians do. But Luddy’s MLS program also provides students with a variety of courses in specific areas of interest, like the art librarianship specialization and the archives and records management specialization – like I am doing, following in my mother’s footsteps.

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