All in the Family: Alum Follows Aunt, Grandmother to LIS
After graduating from Kent State’s School of Library and Information Science (SLIS), Laurence Skirvin, M.L.I.S ’11, became the third person in his family to pursue a career in library and information science.
Skirvin, originally from Villa Rica, Ga., received his undergraduate degree in philosophy from the University of West Georgia in 2005. Both Skirvin’s grandmother and aunt were librarians; his grandmother, Elizabeth Neidert Skirvin, was a 1964 Kent State SLIS alumna.
[Elizabeth Neidert Skirvin] “I thought it would be really cool to follow in their footsteps and join what I thought of as a family profession,” he said. “I thought about coming to library school after I received my bachelor’s degree, but I didn't follow through until several years later. I always thought the library would be a great place to work, and I loved the idea of helping people get the material that they want or need.”
Skirvin said he recently had a conversation with his aunt about cataloging, since it’s what he wants to specialize in.
“She told me that she always really enjoyed cataloging, and we talked about some things specific to cataloging,” he said. “It was nice to be able to have a conversation with her about that since it is something that I really care about.”
Librarianship has evolved a lot now that it is much more technology based, he said. Libraries carry a much more diverse collection of materials than just books.
“Both my aunt and grandmother had to deal with the card catalog which is something that I've never had to deal with,” Skirvin said. “They also had to use typewriters so correcting errors was much more difficult. I think that I have it much easier in some ways. However, I also think that there is much more to learn about now because technology is changing at such a quick pace.”
Skirvin says the best advice he can give to someone wanting to pursue a career in librarianship is to get involved with faculty research interests as soon as possible.
“I also recommend that they try different classes to see what they like,” he said. “Finally, I think that volunteer work is extremely valuable because it gives you experience and connections that will be invaluable when you are looking for a job.” [Laurence Skirvin, M.L.I.S. '11]
Skirvin currently is working on a research project with SLIS Professor Marcia Zeng, Ph.D., and plans to come back to school to earn a second master’s degree, this time in philosophy, his first love.
“Dr. Zeng received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to research applications of Linked Data for libraries,” Skirvin said. “I've examined Linked Data in relation to music and how it can be used with libraries. I've had to analyze a lot of data as well as creating crosswalks between different datasets.”
Skirvin discovered how much he liked philosophy in his second year of college when he took and introductory course at the University of West Georgia.
“I think philosophy has helped me strengthen my reasoning skills and become a better and more thoughtful person,” he said. “I am extremely interested in many of the questions that philosophy tackles, especially those pertaining to ethics and morality. I want to learn more about these questions and educate myself on what various philosophers have said about them. I also think it will help strengthen my reasoning skills and make me an even better analytical thinker.”
(Photos: Top, left: Elizabeth Neidert Skirvin, M.L.S. '64; bottom, right, Laurence Skirvin, M.L.I.S. '11)
By Nicole Gennarelli