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Student job changes course for librarian who learned it’s ‘more than stamping books’
Aug 17, 2013 | 196 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kiley Hayes Folgert began college seeking an undergraduate degree in business and finance, but a student job drastically changed the course of her academic pursuits. Folgert found a position as an assistant in the archives at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and initially “didn’t know what that was, but after working there, I knew business was not what I wanted to do.  I was good at business but I didn’t love it.  If you’re going to do something for the rest of your life, you might as well enjoy doing it.”

This summer, Folgert is completing 150 hours of fieldwork, the capstone requirement of a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. As a summer intern at the Cammie G. Henry Research Center at Northwestern State University’s Watson Library, she is gaining experience in processing and documenting archival material.  The Research Center is home to several extensive collections of Louisiana books, rare books, archival materials, NSU Archives, microfilm, maps, newspapers and oral history tapes.

Among her projects, Folgert translated two documents recently discovered in a crumbling 18th century French encyclopedia acquired by the NSU archives in the 1970s.  

With a knack for languages and deciphering calligraphic penmanship, Folgert determined one of the documents to be an inventory of assets that was part of a succession and the other a land deed dated 1863. Both are related to the Metoyer family and will be added to the Melrose collection housed in the Research Center.

 “Being a librarian is so much more than stamping a book,” said Folgert, who describes herself as one who likes to learn and has many varied interests.  Her master’s degree concentration is archives and she enjoys being able to see and touch historical documents.  Individuals who specialize in archives can find work in corporate archives of large companies, marketing firms with older materials collections, academic institutions, museums and genealogical research firms.  She will graduate in December.

 Folgert, 23, is a native of Marinette, Wis., and arrived in Louisiana in January, newly wed to a U.S. Army officer stationed at Fort Polk.  Her internship was arranged through a partnership between the Cammie G. Henry Research Center and the UW-Milwaukee. She specialized in archives “because I want to make myself versatile.  Because of the Army, we will be moving around.”

 Library science is a multidisciplinary field and a good librarian must be willing to learn new things, Folgert said.  Her aptitude for business could translate well to a career in information science, as “good management and good support are crucial to a successful library.”

 “The library’s role has changed and some are slow to embrace change, but I feel it’s something you need to meet head on,” she said. “Many students today only go to the library to use the computer lab.  I’ve worked at libraries that embraced change and technology and others that did not.  They have to embrace change if they are going to survive.”

Folgert believes that “making bibliographic instruction part of coursework, bringing collections into the classroom and making research a partnership between educators and librarians” will enlighten students on library resources.  People are more accepting of online resources, but students still need instruction on how to find credible sources and weed out the bad ones.”

She also noted the current trend of digitizing underused materials, making them available to researchers worldwide.  Watson Library is in the process of digitizing Northwestern State’s collection of yearbooks, Alumni Columns magazines and student literary magazines, making them accessible and searchable online.

 Folgert also works at Allen Memorial Library at Fort Polk and enjoys visiting different types of libraries — public, academic, military and archival. With an affinity for genealogy, she has also done transcription work for Ancestry.com from home.

Mary Linn Wernet, Northwestern State’s university archivist, said hands-on experience is an excellent way to understand how archival theory actually works.  Although professional archivists try to instill best practices standards of archival theory on a daily basis, each archives and special collections must face budget, space and personnel restraints, she explained.

“When University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee contacted me about their internship program and the possibility of Kiley interning with NSU, I thought it was wonderful opportunity,” Wernet said.  “She has gained a lot of experience working with the Research Center this summer, building an extensive exhibit in the center, processing collections, assisting with researchers and working with a traveling exhibit at this year’s Folk Festival.  We have also been able to tour the Cane River Creole National Park curatorial facility and the LSU-Alexandria archives. Although she will be ending her internship with us in August, I hope she will be able to stay connected with the center and other archivists across Louisiana.”
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