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In partnership with ALA, ProQuest is committed to ensuring that Master’s degrees in library and information science become more accessible and affordable for talented individuals. Since 2001, ProQuest has funded 142 Spectrum Scholars.
When it comes to awarding the Spectrum Scholarships, ALA and ProQuest seek the broad participation of diverse librarians in order to provide the next generation of leadership in the transformation of libraries and library services.
We recently spoke with LaTasha Martin, one of the 2014 winners, about her scholarship.
Q. Congratulations on receiving the Spectrum Scholarship! Can you share how the support will help you in your pursuit of a graduate degree in library and information science?
A. I’m grateful for the support. The Spectrum Scholarship will allow me to attend more than one class per semester, and also provide an opportunity to network with studying and established librarians nationwide.
Q. What inspired you to pursue a career in library and information science?
A. Interestingly enough, I already have a Masters in counseling and had been an LPC in private practice before taking a job at the University of South Carolina. My current office happens to be in the Thomas Cooper Library. While browsing an aisle of books during lunch one day, I considered what it might take to be a librarian. Back in my office, I researched and discovered USC’s School of Library and Information Science. I stalked the website and researched librarianship until I knew being a librarian was what I wanted to do. I believe the career choice found me.
Q. What are you concentrating on in the program?
A. I’m still researching and experiencing. Before joining the program at USC-Columbia, I had no idea the vastness of librarianship. I feel I’ll cheat myself if I make a decision right now.
Q. Describe your experience in the MLIS program so far.
A. Two words: warm and challenging. In every experience I’ve had with the faculty and staff of USC’s SLIS program, I’ve felt they not only cared about my academic progress, but also my development as a person. The courses are challenging, and with a background in counseling, I’m learning to think differently about information. However, with the program’s support, I’m also learning how to use my strengths in the field. Essentially (and most appreciatively), I’m not forced to fit into a box.
Q. What do you plan to do after you complete the program?
A. I hope to secure a job as a librarian. I’ve been leaning towards academic librarianship. However, I’m open to the diversity of job opportunities available to MLIS holders.
Q. What do you hope to do in your career?
A. Wherever I’m working, I hope to keep learning, discovering, and collaborating with cool people.
Q. What do you see as the most popular or up-and-coming field in the library and information program?
A. A current interest of mine is digital landscaping. Our younger generations don’t (or won’t) know our world without the internet. More digital librarians will be needed for the present and future, whether for imaging, cataloging, curating, etc. The digital world is interesting for me because I was a teenager when the internet emerged for general public use. Still, I have one foot in both worlds. I relish the feel of good book in my hands; however, I don’t know what I’d do without my audio books (downloaded from my local library’s digital collections) on the ride to and from work. It’s a field we librarians can’t ignore.
Q. What do you find most exciting about the future of library and information work?
A. I find it fascinating how we (as people) keep discovering or reclaiming different ways to consume information. Good librarians are always on the pulse of change.
Q. What is the best piece of career advice you have received thus far?
A. Be you. There is no box in this field.
Q. Finally, what can you tell us about yourself that we might never guess?
A. I’m a short story writer. Usually, my tales feature magic realism. I always carry around a marble composition notebook (remember those from grade school?) just in case I have to drop everything and write. It happens often.