Becky Canovan '06
Reference and Instruction Librarian
Charles C. Myers Library, University of Dubuque
I traveled to Chicago as part of Catherine Stewart's history class, and I can honestly say I wouldn't be where I am today without my experience at the Newberry Library. I hadn't previously had any inclination to go to library school. In fact, I had been planning on a journalism master's degree. The experience of doing research in the library, as well as the opportunity to pick up an hourly work study while I was there, introduced me to my future career.
Beyond getting me to library school, the Newberry experience also prepared me academically for the road ahead. In my graduate school courses, I was required to complete two original research projects. When asked about our prior research experience, I was one of three or four students in a class of about 30 who had undertaken original research previously. Having written a 30-page paper while in Chicago, I was much better prepared for the rigors of graduate study than many of my classmates.
The independence of time and structure of the Chicago program was also mirrored in my graduate studies. Although library and information studies and history appear to be disparate areas, my experience in writing, outlining, and editing a long paper has helped me immensely this year as I wrote a book chapter about library skills assessment with my colleagues.
Beyond the immediate benefits, the Newberry program has touched my life in other ways. It gave me the opportunity to experience history first-hand through all the field trips. It also sparked a desire to investigate questions of identity as a social construct in my other majors. (I used that spark to develop my English senior portfolio and guide an independent study.) It gave me an affordable option for off-campus study. And, last but not least, I gained friendships and relationships from the trip -- with Catherine Stewart, fellow students, and even a library employee -- that have lasted well beyond the trip.