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Student Spotlight: Technical Writer Caitlin Carroll Takes a Dive Into Special Collections

Caitlin Carroll, SIS student spotlight

Student Spotlight features one our current School of Information Sciences Master students. Our students come from a variety of backgrounds, careers, locations, and academics, and we want to highlight who they are and why they chose UTK SIS. October is National Archives Month, so we picked a student who plans to go into that area of Information Sciences.

Featured Student: Caitlin Carroll (’12)

Location: Nashville, Tennessee

Current job: Technical Writer

Why UT Knoxville?: I got my undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in English-Creative Writing. So when I was deciding to go back for information sciences, what I knew I wanted to look for is that I could do 100 percent online and that the program was ALA accredited. When I saw that UT had both those things, I said, OK, that’s it.

Why SIS?: I went back to school for a career change. I was getting a little unsatisfied with my current career and working in the corporate environment. This fit in line with what I wanted to do in life. I was always interested in libraries. My GRE scores were about to expire so I thought it was now or never. (note – SIS has since waived the GRE requirement, but we sure are happy it got Caitlin motivated to join our program!)

What are your post-graduation plans?: When I came in, I wasn’t really sure where I would go – maybe an academic library, I didn’t really have a direction. As I started taking classes, I thought maybe an archive setting. I did my practicum with National Public Library in their special collections and that really cemented that I wanted to go into archives. Hopefully archives in a public library setting because I found being in the public library setting really rewarding because there’s a lot of community involvement. It was nice being able to do my practicum with NPL because they’re so big–with their practicum they let you rotate through each department, and then you have a focused assignment. I got to meet members of staff everywhere and experience branches of varying sizes and then I got to work in a focused setting and process a collection in special collections. It was a lot of fun being able to actually have the experience because I’ve never worked in a library.

Fun fact: My focused project at NPL was processing a special collection – I really enjoyed overseeing how it was going to be arranged, and how I could make it most accessible for the user. I processed the Nashville Women’s March in 2017, which I know will be an area of interest for a lot of people.

What do you think of the Distance Education program?: I really like how our online experience is set up. When I was doing my practicum, I talked to a lot of other staff members at the library who had done online programs at other schools. They had completely Asynchronous experiences – they were completely on their own. I really like having to sign in and being able to have actual, synchronous class time. It keeps me accountable for assignments, discussions and it’s really like being in a class. Especially being remote and not being on campus, it feels more together, seeing everybody’s names and hearing the professor actually talk to us.

Tips for other students?: I would say, when you’re taking classes, find ways to make the subject matter work for your interest. We only have one dedicated archive management class, but a lot of our assignments in other classes are open topic and you can make them your own. I’m currently taking Public Library Management, so I’m working with special collections again to make that more relevant to my interest.