RCLC Spotlight: Brianna Treleven
Brianna Treleven, M.L.I.S., served as a Graduate Assistant for the Reinberger Children’s Library Center (RCLC) from August 2014 to September 2016 while pursuing her graduate degree at Kent State University. She is currently the Executive Director of the Shaker Historical Society (SHS) in Shaker Heights, OH where she is responsible for guiding the museum according to its mission and strategic planning goals.
“Working at a small museum with a small staff means I do a little bit of everything on a daily basis,” she says. “It’s an all-encompassing role that includes curatorial, archives, human resources, development, visitor services, finance, education, programming, and outreach.”
"Working in the RCLC allowed me to learn how to be flexible, adapt to ever-changing situations, and resourcefully address challenges.”
THE RCLC STUDENT LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Brianna says one of her main takeaways from her time as a graduate assistant was the value of collaboration. Now, as Executive Director at SHS, she frequently seeks opportunities to work with local organizations on a variety of initiatives. Within the past year, SHS has worked with the City of Shaker Heights and the local library on a grant focused on a historic cemetery, collaborated with a 91-year-old gardening club on an Ohio Historical Marker, and facilitated a discussion with a nonprofit to examine racial equity in the city.
Brianna worked on a diverse range of projects at the RCLC, from assisting the first Marantz and Albers Fellows with research to co-curating a pop-up exhibition of original illustrations from the Marantz Picturebook Collection.
“My experience at the RCLC was interesting because it was in the early stages of transitioning from a model children’s library to a research collection,” she says. “Working in the RCLC allowed me to learn how to be flexible, adapt to ever-changing situations, and resourcefully address challenges.” During her graduate assistantship, she inventoried 11 specialized collections, helping to make the collections searchable and more accessible to researchers. She also worked on organizing the inaugural Marantz Picturebook Research Symposium.
FAST FORWARD TO TODAY
A LASTING IMPACT
Brianna’s first position after graduating was at the Andy Warhol Museum as a Project Cataloguer. While the environment and type of work was quite different from her work at the RCLC, the skills Brianna learned as a graduate assistant were easily transferable. “Being involved with the transition of RCLC to a research collection, learning how to catalog and inventory books and objects, and knowing how to work efficiently to keep up with a demanding workload helped me stand out when I was interviewed for a grant-funded position at the Andy Warhol Museum,” she says.
She then used her skills and knowledge from working at the RCLC and the Andy Warhol Museum in her next role at the Ohio History Service Corps, a history-based AmeriCorps program. Brianna knew from her experiences working at various museums before and during graduate school that she wanted to work at a small or mid-sized museum, preferably with collections. This led her to apply to be the Executive Director at SHS.
“All of these experiences helped me develop a well-rounded arsenal of skills and experiences that played a huge role in getting my current position as Executive Director at SHS, and succeeding in a position that was new to me,” she says. Like the RCLC, the museum environment and staff are quite small at SHS. “The most valuable skill I learned at the RCLC was how to prioritize a never-ending to-do list and how to be resourceful while working with a small staff,” Brianna says.
In 2019, Brianna received the New Professional Scholarship Award from the Society of Ohio Archivists to attend the society’s annual meeting.
ADVICE TO CURRENT STUDENTS
Brianna urges current iSchool students to get as much hands-on experience as possible. “What I learned in my classes provided a great basis, but my experiences and success stories are what employers liked,” she says. “A variety of experiences also helps you learn what you don’t want in a career.” For aspiring museum professionals, Brianna recommends volunteering at small museums, even if it is only a few hours per week or per month. She points out that because small museums are often in great need of assistance, volunteers are likely to gain experience in a wide range of tasks.
Lastly, Brianna advises students to connect with alumni or working professionals in their field of interest. “The museum field in particular is extremely competitive, and sometimes bouncing ideas and questions off of someone who has been through the arduous process or having them provide feedback on a resume or cover letter can make a huge difference,” she says.
Current and prospective iSchool students are welcome to email Brianna at email@example.com if they wish to connect.
The iSchool is always here to support students with finding hands-on learning experiences that will enhance their learning. Students are encouraged to send inquiries about internships, volunteering, graduate assistantships, and research projects to their academic advisor or a faculty member that aligns with their professional interests. For more information about student learning opportunities at the RCLC, students may email Michelle Baldini (firstname.lastname@example.org).
POSTED: WEDNESDAY, JULY 28, 2021 - 5:40 PM | WRITTEN BY: JULIA STONE