Completed for the mslis program,
school of information, pratt institute
Below are five projects I completed as part of my master studies at Pratt Institute's School of Information. If you have any questions or comments about these projects, please reach out!
During my time in this LIS program, I pursued projects that reflected a deep interest in fostering and facilitating interpersonal information exchange, particularly around specialized, and often cultural, interests. Having learned a variety of tools to assist in my passion for reference and community outreach, only some of which are displayed below, I look forward to employing, revisiting, and building upon these many approaches throughout my career.
Project Title: Thought Paper, “Curiouser and Curiouser: Curiosity cabinets’ role in creating modern LAM and tenets of public access”
Project URL: This paper can be downloaded here.
Project Description: This project was completed as an assignment for Foundations of Information (INFO 601). The assignment was to produce an interesting, yet professional, critical analysis of an intriguing topic regarding the information disciplines and/or professions. I chose to examine the history of the Western phenomenon of curiosity cabinets, and how their concept and contents contributed to the LAM field as we know it today.
Methods: My main research method was document-based, as I employed a variety of source material, including scholarly articles, printed resources, and encyclopedic entries. After finding resources that established the history of the LAM institutions, I cast a wide net to ensure that all aspects of the curiosity cabinets and their dismantled elements would be represented in my analysis.
My Role: I am the sole author of this work.
Learning Objective Achieved: Research
Rationale: This paper illustrates my ability to conduct unbiased research, collect information thoroughly and through multiple perspectives, and analyze the foundations of a concept that stretches across centuries, all of which informed a holistic, analytic evaluation of the history and lasting impact of the unbelievable fad of curiosity cabinets.
Project Title: Lesson Plan & Demonstration for a Pratt Institute Libraries catalog instruction session
Project Description: This lesson plan, originally completed for Reference and Instruction (INFO 652), consists of two separate elements: a 15-minute demonstration of the catalog, enacted in front of the professor and class (here, translated into a recorded session), and a written lesson plan, which includes the demo itself as a component. After being assigned to create this project around the Pratt Institute Libraries’ digital catalog, I chose to work within the “Searching as Strategic Exploration” and “Research as Inquiry” ACRL Frameworks and to have the specific audience of incoming freshmen in the Game Design & Interactive Media AOS program. When taken as a whole, the lesson plan aims to introduce the students to both digital and physical aspects of the library.
This project has been slightly revised from its original based on feedback from the professor of the course, Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz.
Methods: Once I had frameworks in mind, I researched different lesson plans via the ACRL Framework sandbox and created the scavenger hunt element of my lesson plan based on models I found there. The additional access to the Brooklyn campus library, as well as its digital components, provided to me by my role as both a Public Services and an E-resources Management GA there was incredibly useful as I determined my audience. I tested every part of the lesson plan, from timing the scavenger hunt to validating the resources available via ILL and the Special Collections, and this was aided in large part by my proximity to and knowledge of the collection. This access was also invaluable in tailoring my demonstration to a particular course, as I researched the syllabi of the required courses and matched them with resources in the catalog.
My Role: I am the sole author of this work.
Learning Objective Achieved: Communication
Rationale: This project illustrates my ability to communicate effectively, efficiently, and personably, in both a written and a verbal medium, to an intended audience initially unfamiliar with the content presented. By choosing a specific class and assignment to focus on, I demonstrated a knowledge of appropriate content, language, and instruction goals for my particular audience.
By detailing time allotment(s), ideal size of audience, and individual activity elements, the structure of the lesson plan works to communicate, in a clear and concise manner, the intentions and nature of the instruction session to whomever would be putting it into practice. Specific steps and corresponding results are conveyed via the table formatting of the lesson plan.
To accomplish this project’s goals, one had to communicate, here achieved verbally and visually through the recorded demonstration component, information to users that was appropriate to their environment and needs. By not only taking full advantage of a communication-interaction tool to preserve and make repeatable the demonstration, but also by choosing and catering directly to a sub-audience of a larger audience (i.e., a specific course within a bachelor’s program) and threading the acknowledgement of their needs throughout the project as a whole (the specialized keywords and approach to the catalog in the demo and the scavenger hunt prompts in the lesson plan both were derived from the chosen course’s syllabus), this project illustrates my ability to form and utilize audience-appropriate language and to approach communication-based instruction with creativity, originality, and simplicity.
Project Title: Parentage on Mt. Olympus: Untangling the Family Trees of the Olympian Gods
Project URL: This project is located here.
Project Description: This project was completed as the final project for Program for Cultural Heritage (INFO 664), whose goal was to have the student utilize the skills built over the semester to make a project focused around personal interest and the manipulation of data. Remembering an old gripe of mine while studying Greek and Roman mythology in college, particularly in regards to unpacking Hesiod’s Theogony, I decided to explore ways of unpacking and making more easily understood the conflicting ancient accounts of Olympian deity parentage. As described below, I utilized the data and resource information provided by the incredible Theoi Project on their online encyclopedia.
Methods: This project involved: researching the coding makeup of different websites to determine usefulness and ability to be interacted with; building of Python scripts, which read two different types of website pages for particular information, collected that information via web-scraping, and returned it as readable, organized CSV files, and created dynamic graphs from those files; and utilizing Google Sites and the creation of a GitHub repository to allow the project and scripts mentioned previously to be accessed.
My Role: I am the sole author of this work. The professor of this course, Matt Miller, was beyond invaluable in teaching the skills I used for this project, and via Zoom no less!
Learning Objective Achieved: Technology
Rationale: Through this project, I demonstrated my ability to code within and manipulate the Python programming language, and its varied forms such as JSON, via a text editor and the command line; to create GitHub repositories; and to utilize information visualization technology to effectively scrape data from websites and then display that data in a linear, easily digestible way. Although web-scraping is often a last resort when working with large quantities of data, particularly when asking for information simultaneously from varied subset pages of a large website, the lack of upkeep my initial sources showed led me to closely research the developer elements of potential new sources and trial different Python web-scraping scripts to effectively access data once a new source had been chosen.
Project Title: Topical Resource Blog, “Seshat’s Library”
Project URL: The blog can be found here.
Project Description: This project was completed for the Literature & Literacy for Young Adults (INFO 677) course. The completed project was an annotated resource blog for a teen audience, consisting of materials of myriad formats, which allowed for fun, easy-access exploration of the topic from a multitude of perspectives and sources. The chosen topic was “history and culture of ancient civilizations,” and it served to address the following assets from the Search Institute’s Developmental Assets Framework: School Engagement (Commitment to Learning sub-asset); Reading for Pleasure (Commitment to Learning sub-asset); and Culture Competence (Social Competencies sub-asset).
Methods: Upon choosing a topic that addressed the above three developmental assets, I researched, read, listened to, tested, and ultimately compiled a list of twelve resources, which varied from young adult novels and short story collections to mythological lore podcasts to ancient language video tutorials and more. I also experimented with multiple blog-creation platforms before deciding on one that allowed for a balance of serendipitous and tag-based exploration.
My Role: I am the sole author of this work.
Learning Objective Achieved: User-Centered Focus
Rationale: This project displays my ability to show empathy and awareness of diverse interests for a particular audience, not only through the themes of the resources chosen and displayed, but also through the content of the descriptive text, often facilitating next steps and alerting users to content material. And while the majority of the resources were chosen with the intended age of the teen audience in mind, I also deliberately chose resources that would possibly be considered to be geared towards a more adult, and in a couple cases, more academic, audience. Making sure the individuals within a user community, particularly when they are younger, are given room to take control of their learning and grow it by their own means was a personally important aspect of this project that I used those resources to reflect.
Since the only boundary I was working within was the age group of my audience, and the topic allowed for resources that spanned a truly global range, I was additionally able to research varied materials and subtopics, demonstrating a proficiency in locating, assessing, and distributing information resources to a user community.
Rather than restrict it to the private sphere of my classmates and professor, I intentionally made this project public, and I’ve been delighted to see interaction with it from other blogs and Tumblr users in the time since it went live.
Project Title: Teen Reader’s Advisory Interview + Reflection
Project URL: This project can be downloaded here.
Project Description: This project was completed for the Literature & Literacy for Young Adults (INFO 677) course, and has been slightly edited. The first part, the interview itself, was to conduct a reader’s advisory interview with a teen (grade 7-12) in-person or by video call; I completed this over FaceTime with a high school senior. The interview was followed up by a short reflection paper, detailing the process and outcomes of the interview, as well as musings on the quality of the interview and ways for the interviewer to improve.
Methods: I researched methods of interviewing for Reader’s Advisory, particularly from Heather Booth’s Serving Teens Through Reader’s Advisory, and from there compiled a list of questions and prompts, as well as possible avenues of follow-up questions should the interviewee steer or show a particular preference or interest in a certain line of inquiry. During the interview, which I recorded rather than take comprehensive notes and miss key details or risk seeming uninterested or distracted, I noted keywords and repeated phrases. Afterwards, I compiled a list of suggested reading and sent it to the interviewee. During the reflection process, I took notes from the recording, marking where I thought I could’ve probed more or less or taken the conversation in a more helpful or rewarding direction, and I compiled my thoughts on how the interview went as a whole and what the larger takeaways could be for my future profession as a reference librarian.
My Role: I am the sole author of this work.
Learning Objective Achieved: Reflective Practice
Rationale: The in-real-time nature of this project allows an illustration of my understanding of what a librarian brings to an interaction with a user and how that can always be improved upon to the satisfaction of both parties.
This project underpins the necessity of adaptability in reader’s advisory positions, requiring a knowledge of related media and resources to find more, a quick-on-your-feet thinking that enables a conversation designed to draw information from a possibly unwilling or unaccustomed user, and a vocabulary to match and dissect one used by a user whose vocabulary necessarily does not match a professional or pointedly consumer-based one.
This project also highlights the constant need for self-evaluation in a public-facing librarian position and for re-evaluation of professional practices, often in the moment, when interacting with a user base that is constantly changing.