A few months ago former LLNE member Professor Sarah Ryan emailed LLNE President Michael VanderHeijden to discuss a new Northern New England online cohort at the University of North Texas Department of Information Science. Mike sent the email to me and my interest was piqued.
As a former law librarian in Maine, I know that Northern New England can sometimes be overlooked. While there are three ALA-accredited Library and Information Schools in New England with the University of Rhode Island (Go Rams! I am a proud alum!), Southern Connecticut State University, and Simmons University, none are physically located in Northern New England (for more info on ALA-accredited programs, check out this database). As much of library school is online (because it is designed to be or because of COVID) I wondered what this Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine cohort was all about so I decided to ask a friend.
Amanda Ouellette is a Library Associate at the Maine State Law and Legislative Reference Library. She works mainly in technical services and cataloging and is part of a team working on a multi-year digitization and review of historical and current Maine legislative documents. (As I type this she is working on the digitization of the 1967 Maine House and Senate Registers having worked her way back from 2007 with her sights on going all the way back to 1915). She had worked in libraries for about 10 years when, in January of 2022, Amanda began UNT’s MLS program through its Vermont-New Hampshire-Maine Cohort.
I spoke with Amanda and first I convinced her to join LLNE for the low, low, low student rate of $5 per year! Next, I asked her some questions to learn more about the student perspective on the new cohort. Amanda liked the experience at UNT so far. She likes that the program is all online and affordable. (Also, work reimburses part of her tuition which is an amazing benefit of being a state employee!) She says she has up to 5 years to finish her program so she can pace herself and manage the school and work and life demands. She likes the cohort model, stating that there are about a dozen people in it. Amanda is the only member of the cohort with an interest in law libraries at this time but there are many other members of the cohort interested in public librarianship. She is most looking forward to a class on information organization like cataloging or metadata because she says her job revolves around cataloging which is something in which she has no formal instruction.
Looking to find out more details about this new cohort, I emailed Professor Sarah Ryan. The first thing I did was convince her to rejoin LLNE for the low, low, low cost of $10 per year. Next, I asked Sarah a bit about the program from her perspective as a professor. As Sarah describes it, “The cohort model is about people. Librarians are more than just walking skills repositories. We are sounding boards for each other, research collaborators, and just plain interesting people to know. The cohort class meetings bring our students together to make connections (and swap cat stories).”
For more information on the cohort, check out this flyer. For more information about joining LLNE, click here. (https://llne.org/join-llne/)