Madge Hildebrandt Klais, Assistant Professor Emerita at UW-Madison, continues to teach on-campus and online courses for the SLIS master’s degree program. In addition, she lectures for the UW-Madison Department of Continuing Studies on a variety of topics related to the history of books and print culture and medieval intellectual history. Most recently, she presented a three-part public lecture series titled, “’Engendered is the Flower’: Medieval Gardens Past and Present.” In seeking to answer the question, “What do we know about medieval gardens and how do we know it?” Dr. Klais presented visual and textual evidence that illuminated not only early gardening history but also the evolution of book production from the early to the late Middle Ages.
Danika Brubaker, Content Marketing Manager at Cool Choices, a non-profit focused on sustainability and behavior change
What was your career path that led you to working with Cool Choices?
There’s a Hogwarts “Sorting Hat” type of question one gets asked many times while pursuing a degree in Library and Information Science, at least I was asked this many times during my years at SLIS: “What kind of library do you want to work in?” My answer, “I don’t plan to work in a library,” always brought a little awkward silence followed by some interesting discussions about the array of career choices actually available to a SLIS graduate. At SLIS, I was most interested in social media/marketing, digital tools and trends, information architecture, and content management. Just before I graduated I was lucky to secure a job building the social media outreach for a start-up (that’s now grown phenomenally) called TeachingBooks.net. After five years at TeachingBooks, I shifted into the role of Web Content Manager for the Wisconsin Historical Society. Just recently, I accepted my current position as the Content Marketing Manager at Cool Choices. (Check us out at www.coolchoices.com, we may have internship opportunities in the future!)
You have an atypical job for someone with a degree from SLIS, so how do you use your degree in the position that you have?
My SLIS degree really gave me a foundation and the confidence to approach work challenges that are initially out of my wheelhouse. SLIS grads are savvy researchers, skilled writers, and great networkers and I feel these skills serve me every day in my current position. For example, some of my current work can fall into more traditional marketing tasks at times, which does not match my academic training. And every single SLIS graduate is going to encounter this situation, right? A graduate degree isn’t meant to prepare you for every on-the-job task you’ll be asked to perform, but by the end of your degree you should be able approach a new challenge (“Hey, can you start a blog for our library?”) with strategy, the ability to network with those with expertise, and to effectively document, communicate, and support your approach.
Will you describe your typical day?
Cool Choices develops software and we use Agile project management, so every day begins with a short stand-up meeting with the team. After that I’m doing a really wide array of tasks, which is why I really love the job. I’m working with a firm who is redesigning our website so I’ve created a new site map and page wireframes, drawing on my SLIS Information Architecture class. I’m making posts to social media and managing our social media strategy, drawing on the SLIS Digital Tools, Trends, and Debates course content. I’m also editing and writing content that we send to clients, including emails, handouts, web content, etc. I also get to dabble in creating mockups for our developer and bug testing our software when needed.
Please tell us about a goal or two you have in your current position.
There’s so much I want to do! Cool Choices is doing some really exciting work to help people take sustainable actions, save money, and help the environment. Cool Choices offers an online sustainability card game people can play from their computer or phone, usually as part of a team within their workplace. The online game encourages players to submit photos and ideas related to sustainable actions and one of my goals is to get this content out into the world to encourage and inspire others to take similar actions. I want to help Cool Choices grow. I want more and more people to use our platform, because I believe we have the potential to inspire a huge group of individuals who will be key players in the sustainability and climate change movement.
How has your time at SLIS influenced your career?
My time at SLIS helped polish me as a professional and it made me much more confident. I’m a better writer and a better public speaker. I’m also a better collaborator after all those group projects. My advice to new or recent SLIS grads is to not box yourself in to traditional jobs; be open to looking at how your very valuable and translatable skills can help employers solve problems and meet a need. It’s all in how you market yourself and your degree. Learn to see how your skills can be translated; even if you haven’t had the exact experience a position is calling for, you probably have something parallel to play up in a resume or interview. In my experience so far the SLIS degree means a lot to employers and there’s a lot of trust and respect automatically afforded to people with a background in Library and Information Science, but you do need to be able to speak specifically to how your skills can uniquely meet an employer’s needs.
Madison Magazine's 2015 M List highlights social innovation around the city and includes the RADD (Recovering Analog and Digital Data) project, headed up by SLIS staffers Dorothea Salo ('05) and Will May. RADD helps organizations and individuals preserve their analog and digital data on, for example, floppy disks or VHS tapes. Read more about the efforts here. Congratulations, Dorothea and Will!
Personal Archiving Day was developed by the Society of American Archivists Student Chapter. October is Archives Month and students wanted to celebrate by creating an outreach opportunity between the archival community and the Madison community. The students are lending their skills to interested individuals with questions about materials they might have at home: film, photographs, paper, and so on. It's so common for people collect family memories on items prone to deterioration, so it's important to understand how to properly care for these materials.
On October 10, students and local experts from the Madison area will gather at the Madison Public Library, 201 W. Mifflin Street. Local experts include: Amy Sloper (WI Center for Film and Theater Research), Sally Jacobs, Dorothea Salo (UW-Madison SLIS), Brianna Marshall (UW-Madison Libraries), Joyal Holder (Holder Printworks), Dana Gerber-Margie, and Matthew Blessing (State Archivist, WI Historical Society). They'll be on hand to answer questions members of the Madison community have about their archival objects
12:15 Samantha Abrams will give an introduction to archives – what archives are, what archivists do, and what it means for people in attendance
2:30 Joyal Holder will talk about film
3:30 Amy Sloper will do a film screening in association with Home Movie Day
Here's a link to the Facebook event.
Another creative event from the minds of SLIS students!
SLIS is proud to be part of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa's efforts to maintain its community library. Congratulations to the students, retired Professor Louise Robbins, and staff member Omar Poler ('10) for recognition from OCLC on this unique, important partnership. Read the full article to learn more.