MMLIS helps one graduate balance the creative and technical sides of librarianship
Like many others in her profession, Marisa Hernandez has a true passion for research and the information it yields. While her “librarian-as-futurist” outlook fully embraces the technological aspect of her field, there’s also a realization that true librarianship acknowledges the past, connects to the present and preserves information for future generations.
“Recently, I completed a research and reference library internship at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum,” Marisa noted. “I dug through player scrapbooks created in the mid-1940s and 1950s to surface underrepresented stories from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.”
Marisa’s desire to share knowledge and information didn’t form overnight. After earning her bachelor’s degree in American Studies from UC Santa Cruz, she served as a faculty mentor research fellow. This allowed her a firsthand opportunity to expertly hone her craft with experienced academics while preparing her for the next phase of her career.
“I curated and taught classes with rare primary source materials,” Marisa said. “This happened during my fellowship at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. I curated and analyzed over 4,000 semi-cataloged zines to create a guide focusing on zines written by women and people of color.”
Becoming a more effective librarian
Seeking to advance her career further, Marisa spent years searching for the right master’s degree program. Initially, her search focused primarily on traditional colleges and universities. However, as her workload and responsibilities at the L.A. County Library increased, she needed a solution that would help her balance her work, life and educational commitments.
“I performed a variety of duties ranging from library display curator, events project manager, weekly storytime, crafts leader and community liaison,” Marisa said. “With so much commitment and responsibility, I needed an online program where I could continue to refine my library management skills on my schedule. The MMLIS program at USC was just what I needed.”
Networking and gaining access to information
During her online classes, Marisa learned new ways to effectively communicate with teammates and stakeholders across an array of time zones and digital platforms — a necessity for librarians in the modern era. Collaboration with faculty and fellow students further enhanced her technical skills and helped broaden her understanding of real-world practices.
“The small class sizes made it easy to build meaningful professional relationships with faculty,” Marisa said. “The caliber of expertise and advice held by MMLIS professors has also helped me navigate my career path as an early-career professional.”
Reflections on the USC MMLIS program
Marisa’s graduate education helped her gain the experience needed to begin learning about executive leadership roles and business development. “I’ve been able to represent the USC MMLIS program at leadership symposiums,” she said. “Attendees really seem to be interested in our program’s new business model that combines LIS and managerial leadership.”
“Library leaders in the 21st century and beyond need to adapt and appropriate technology to thrive as project managers and effectively communicate across diverse virtual environments,” Marisa said. “Earning a Master of Management in Library and Information Science degree associated with the international prestige of USC’s Marshall School of Business provides me with a competitive edge to become a successful leader in the profession.”
Putting her education to use and paying it forward
Diversifying her professional skills has already opened doors to new partnerships and opportunities to share the stories of marginalized communities. Viewing her role of librarian through the lens of a master storyteller, Marisa already has her sights set on presenting her work at one of the world’s greatest collections of cataloged materials.
“My research on the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League will be displayed in the 2020 Smithsonian ‘Latinos and Baseball: In the Barrios and the Big Leagues’ exhibit,” Marisa said. “It’s the first big step in my long-term goal of sharing the human story through public education.”