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.
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.
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 dictionary.archivists.org. 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.