UMD’s iSchool takes great pride in its graduates.
From archivists to librarians, web developers to information architects, our iSchool alumni succeed as information professionals in every field imaginable. Take a moment to read these interesting stories about your fellow iSchool Terps!
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Tara Custer, MLS, Class of 2015
“What do you want to do when you graduate?” is one of the questions college students are asked the most. As an undergraduate student studying journalism at Salisbury University, Tara Custer, MLS ’15, found herself struggling to answer this. After sharing with a professor that she was unsure of her direction, but enjoyed researching, writing, and helping people, the faculty member suggested that Tara might enjoy being a librarian and encouraged her to apply to a Master of Library Science (MLS) program.
“I went home that day and started researching – and fell in love with the idea that I could get paid to be around information all day and help others,” said Tara.
When looking for an ALA accredited school, Tara came across the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies (UMD iSchool) and found it to be a perfect fit for her goals. Not only was the UMD iSchool one of the top-ranked library and information science colleges in the country, but it also offered online MLS options – perfect for students like her who planned to simultaneously balance a career.
Amelia Nuss, MLS, Class of 2010
Some people are born knowing that they want to be a librarian. Others discover their calling after years of working in a different profession, like Amelia Nuss, MLS 2010. After obtaining an undergraduate degree in religion, Amelia found herself working in the field of human resources for years before realizing she wanted to pursue a path of serving the community, which eventually led to her decision to become a librarian.
At first, Amelia thought about becoming a teacher but felt she would not thrive there. She also thought about going to seminary to become a pastor. It wasn’t until one of her friends spoke highly of her experience at the University of Maryland College of Information Studies (UMD iSchool) that Amelia was inspired to pursue a career in librarianship. “When my friend went to library school, something clicked. I liked the idea of organizing, discovering, and sharing information on various subjects and topics,” said Amelia. “It was a proverbial light-bulb turning on moment.”
As a part-time student in the Master of Library Science (MLS) program, Amelia worked full-time at the U.S. Secret Service as a human resources specialist. Although she started the program on a school library media track, Amelia switched her focus to reference librarian in order to remain working for the federal government – which ended up being a fortuitous direction as it led to the discovery of her passion and her current position as a law librarian for the U.S. Department of Justice.
Terry Darr, MLS, Class of 2006
School library director Terry Darr, MLS 2006, teaches over 200 information literacy and plagiarism education classes each year to middle and high school students. Her time in the classroom showed her the challenges students face using digital information ethically. Librarians, along with teachers, can reduce plagiarism through proactive education.
Terry dedicated herself to writing the newly published book, Combating Plagiarism: A Hands-On Guide for Librarians, Teachers and Students – a first-ever proactive instructional plan for school librarians and teachers that aims to reduce online plagiarism by middle and high school students. She attributes much of her knowledge and expertise around this topic, as well as the ability to construct an educational tool, to her MLS degree.
After many years as a stay-at-home mother raising a child with disabilities, Terry decided to prepare for re-entering the workforce by attending the University of Maryland College of Information Studies (UMD iSchool) Master of Library Science (MLS) program. She was drawn to the college’s reputation as a leader in the field of library science and was excited about the doors that a degree from the college could open.
David B. Levy, MLS, Class of 1994
When David, MLS ’94, was a student at the University of Maryland (UMD), he spent most of his free time in McKeldin Library where he had access to a tremendous collection of books on Jewish studies. He read and learned from every book on the shelves in biblical studies, Jewish law, Jewish philosophy, and Jewish history. David also enjoyed attending a number of lectures from Jewish studies professors at UMD including Charles Manekin, Bernard Cooperman, Adele Berlin, and others.
In essence, David's Master of Library Science (MLS) degree was kind of an autodidact double major in Jewish studies and library science. He incorporated his research findings from Jewish studies into his coursework for the MLS program at the College of Information Studies. David is very grateful for the program’s professors for the freedom and encouragement to write his papers in areas of Judaica Librarianship.
David’s robust education at the College of Information Studies laid the foundation for his career as a library leader. Today, David serves as Chief Librarian at Lander College for Women in New York City. He is also a prolific researcher and writer on the topic of Judaica Librarianship and Jewish studies. David continues to be driven by a passion for self-teaching and has dedicated his life to the search for wisdom, understanding, and knowledge in the quest for intellectual, moral, and spiritual virtue. He is inspired by the words of Confucius, “Should we all not strive for virtue of learning for its own sake, although no one takes note?"
Mary Ellen Icaza, MLS, Class of 1998
When she was in sixth grade, Mary Ellen Icaza (MLS ’98) wrote an article about one day becoming a librarian, but she never imagined it would come true. Today, she is the CEO and Executive Director for Stark County District Library in Ohio, a library system with ten locations and five bookmobiles. Previously, she was the Assistant Director for Outreach and Programs for Montgomery County Public Libraries in Maryland, where she oversaw all programming, community outreach, and special events.
The University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies (iSchool) played an important role in setting the foundation for Mary Ellen’s career. In order to succeed, Mary Ellen says, it is essential to know how to work well with others in collaborative ways to move work forward. The Master of Library Science (MLS) program taught her the importance of teamwork, ethics, and values. Values such as accessibility, confidentiality, and privacy, she says, guide the work people do in the library field.
During her undergraduate years, Mary Ellen was captivated as an intern at the Congressional Research Service. Although she always had a passion for reading, being exposed to the work of reference librarians led Mary Ellen to pursue a career in librarianship.
“A library degree is truly transferable,” she says. “When I started library school, I thought I would be an academic librarian, but that is not the path I took. I have worked in public libraries, education, publishing, and government consulting, all using my library background!”
Laura Moorer, MLS, Class of 2012
Working in a library as a law school student made Laura Moorer, MLS ’12, realize that she did not want to always practice law. She discovered that her true passion in the law gravitated more toward helping people find the resources they need. Laura compares legal research to a puzzle as she looks forward to new challenges each day as a law librarian.
While attending UMD’s College of Information Studies (iSchool) in 2010, Laura worked as a law librarian at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS). One thing she enjoyed most about her time at the iSchool was being able incorporate what she was doing at work into her class projects. Due to the wide variety of classes offered in the Master of Library Science (MLS) program, the iSchool prepared Laura to become a better librarian. She was always encouraged to ask questions and think outside the box to resolve issues brought forward by patrons.
Being a solo law librarian for 14 years presented unique challenges for Laura. Unlike larger libraries with several staff members, Laura performed the tasks of a cataloguer, reference librarian, serials technician, collection developer, and many other roles. The iSchool prepared Laura to understand how these roles work together and helped her execute it efficiently as a one-person team.
Sarah Stonesifer, MLS, Class of 2011 & Susan Stonesfier, MLS, Class of 1997
Growing up with a librarian led Sarah Stonesifer, MLS alumna ’11, to spend a lot of time in libraries. Sarah’s mother, Susan Stonesifer, MLS alumna ’97, has been a librarian for over 20 years. As the Miller Branch Manager for Howard County Library System, Susan leads a team of 65 who envision and implement new services at this state-of-the art library facility.
Sarah’s influence in choosing a career path in libraries was due to her mother’s diverse work history and how she applies her work ethic to everything she does. After graduating from UMD’s iSchool, Sarah worked in the school library setting for six years and is now the Digital Missioner and Manager of Operations for the Department of Lifelong Learning at Virginia Theological Seminary, where her father happens to be an alumnus.
One of the most important things that Sarah learned at the iSchool is that there is not one type of librarian. This helped her keep an open mind to the different ways she could apply her MLS degree. In her current position, she consistently comes back to what she learned about research interviews, how to figure out what people need, and how to go about extracting the most important pieces of information. Sarah’s greatest professional accomplishment is launching a webinar series that reaches hundreds of people each month. This series has grown to being a consistent source of helpful information for those who work within faith communities. Sarah advises students, “Follow your passions and see how your educational background can synch with that.”
Robert Jacoby, MIM, Class of 2012
Meet Robert Jacoby, Web Governance Expert for the United Nations, poet, novelist, author of the “website governance” entry on Wikipedia, and developer (as a student!) of a widely used free, online website governance modeling tool. Jacoby is an out-of-the-box thinker who is helping organizations world-wide solve the puzzle of website governance.
Website governance is an organization's structure of staff and systems to maintain and manage a website. According to Jacoby, this can be like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle. You have to put all the pieces together in the right way to see the entire picture: business goals, content, system administration, audience, marketing, social media, user experience, design, software, analytics, data architecture, legal risks, accessibility, staff support and training, and more.
Jacoby, 2012 alumnus of the University of Maryland (UMD) College of Information Studies, Master of Information Management program, began to understand the challenge and complexity of website governance as a student – and set out to solve the problem. Jacoby reflects that the breadth of experiences at UMD, with both students and teachers, provided him with opportunities he had not foreseen. The college encourages applied learning and, using self-directed coursework time, Jacoby created the Website Governance Modeling Tool.
Aderonke Adeniji, MIM, Class of 2005
Technology is a consistently evolving field. Those working in cybersecurity have a duty to keep their minds sharp and focused on how their industry is changing.
Aderonke Adeniji, Director for Information Assurance within the Office of Cybersecurity for the U.S. House of Representatives and proud iSchool MIM alumna, claims cybersecurity is much more than sitting behind a keyboard to stop hackers. She says, “While combating adversarial threats is a critical part of the field, there are several roles that require strong analytical, written and oral communication skills. A well rounded cybersecurity program includes experienced security practitioners that support security management, operations and technical areas.”
The most challenging aspect of this field, according to Adeniji, is identifying, hiring and retaining qualified security professionals. Cybersecurity is a dynamic field and there is a need for those that are highly qualified to keep pace with emerging security challenges and threats in areas such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT).
Before joining the House, Aderonke served as a consultant for both large and boutique consulting companies. She supported federal government clients with system assessment and authorization efforts, IT security policy development, and program/project management activities in response to security laws and requirements. Aderonke began her career in Federal service modernizing records for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Adrienne Hieb, MLS, Class of 2015
Adrienne Hieb is a Metadata Librarian at NASA Goddard (contracted through SelectFederal Services) in Greenbelt, MD, just miles from the University of Maryland where she completed her MLS degree in 2015. Adrienne was one of the first students to specialize in Digital Curation. She currently manages metadata and holdings for the library at Goddard and provides guidance to the new NASA Goddard Archives. The NASA Goddard Institutional Repository Adrienne works with can be viewed here.
Adrienne uses metadata to add value to NASA Goddard’s holdings and the institution as a whole. She often draws on a concept she learned as a graduate student in the digital curation program: “We often talked about how to add value to existing data. So I really try to focus on taking metadata, that seems basic on one level, and making it more valuable to a user in new and interesting ways.”
She says working with metadata feels like solving puzzles. “If you like solving puzzles, metadata work is for you. Some days it’s routine, and then some days it’s figuring out how to get from one format to another, or something goes awry in the data and you have to troubleshoot and find a way to fix the problem.”
As an MLIS student, Adrienne did her field study with the Gordon W. Prange Collection in UMD Special Collections. She helped them create a database for their collection, transitioning their metadata away from spreadsheets. Read More
Holly McIntyre, MLS, Class of 2010
When talking with Holly McIntyre, Archivist at NASA Goddard, you begin to wonder what her science background is - engineering? Physics? Maybe astrophysics? She knows so much about NASA’s current projects and history, but she isn’t a scientist, she’s an archivist. In fact, she’s the first archivist in NASA Goddard’s history. Three years ago she was tasked with the monumental job of creating an archives at the NASA center in Greenbelt, Maryland, just miles from the University of Maryland where she had completed her Master of Library Science.
Holly explains, “There are 11 NASA centers including Goddard. Goddard does a lot of science and research. There are scientists well-versed in their fields of study; they dream up what needs to happen next in the field, what question
needs to be answered. Then there are engineers and technologists who make these dreams a reality….they create something that will answer that question. It might be an experiment, instrument, something that is flown as a payload, sounding rockets, balloon launches, suborbital aircraft, and spacecraft.”
Goddard’s 60th Anniversary is this year, meaning there were almost 60 years of history and materials waiting to be collected, organized, and stored safely when Holly began creating the Goddard Archives. She has done everything from making custom boxes that house memorabilia like models of spacecraft and pins, to implementing a digital records initiative to digitize analog records and preserve born-digital records. Currently, Holly and her team accession approximately 50-75 cubic feet of material per year. Read More
Karina Hagelin, MLIS
Karina Hagelin, preferred pronouns: they; them; their, studied American Studies at University of Maryland, where they received their Bachelor of Arts. During their tenure, Hagelin managed the LGBT Equity Library and worked on digital collections and digital collection, which sparked their interest in librarianship. Hagelin later pursued their Master’s in Library and Information Science at the UMD iSchool, where they digitized special collections, cataloged images, and created metadata. Hagelin’s passion for metadata grew and they took their knowledge, skills, and passion to Cornell University Library.
Hagelin is disabled, transgender, and queer and believes that it is important for librarians and archivists in those positions to be well-represented. At CUL, Hagelin is a diversity fellow and assistant archivist where they do a great amount of processing and creating metadata for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force collection.
“The best part of my job is processing and working with collection of other queer people,” Hagelin said. “I’m preserving content for future queer and trans people to see that they have a history, and that people before them did really cool stuff here.”
As a diversity fellow and assistant archivist, Hagelin is most proud of, “sharing my story as a survivor and helping others heal from what happened to them.” Read More
Wendy Simmons, PhD, Class of 1990
Wendy Simmons is a retired Foreign Service Officer. She was also an adjunct lecturer for the College of Information Studies from 2015 to 2017. For almost three years, Wendy has been a reviewer for the Department of State's FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) program. The State Department is huge, with many bureaus in Washington and almost 300 facilities (embassies and consulates) overseas. FOIA requests come from the public, most often American journalists, academics, think tanks, non-profit organizations and independent researchers; but sometimes from overseas. When information is gathered from units relevant to the request, Wendy’s role is to review material that are found to see if they are truly responsive to the requests, and then for sensitivity, privacy and national security considerations, in accordance with FOIA and privacy law. Her work is then reviewed by a bevy of lawyers and ultimately sent to their requesters.
Wendy has reviewed materials for requests on Hillary Clinton's and Nikki Haley's schedules, as well as cases on the travel ban, sanctions on Russia, missing videotapes from press briefings, US refugee resettlement organizations, trademark issues with Cuba and many more. Many of her colleagues (retired Foreign Service) believe their time working overseas was much more thrilling, but as an information professional and an international policy junkie, it's a great fit for Wendy.
Kevin Beverly, MLS, Class of 1981
iSchool Alumnus Kevin Beverly works to help disadvantaged children realize their potential through community outreach, mentoring, and service. Originally from the small African American community of Taylors Island, Kevin attended the University of Maryland receiving his Bachelors in Law Enforcement in 1979, and Masters in Library and Information Systems in 1982. He recalls his first part time job while attending UMD, in which he delivered mail at the National Library of Medicine. Upon graduation, this job eventually led to a full time position. His work ethic, interpersonal skills, and understanding of the movement of information allowed him to flourish in his career, but the hardships he endured along the way have stayed with him. His own journey along with the values instilled in him by his mother have motivated Kevin to use his experiences to help disadvantaged children find their own ambitions. His community work includes serving “on six boards, including the Montgomery County Community Foundation, the Universities at Shady Grove, and CollegeTracks, a program that helps disadvantaged students in local high schools pursue their education”, providing scholarships to students living on Taylors Island, building wooden boxes to serve as lending libraries for underserved communities, supporting an orphanage in Uganda, and more.
Alice Crites, MLS
Alice Crites, Washington Post researcher, has been a part of a half-dozen Pulitzer teams. Her latest Pulitzer Prize was announced last week for an investigation of Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama. The year before, she worked with David Fahrenthold on the Post’s Pulitzer-winning investigation of Donald Trump’s charitable giving.
Crites, the daughter of an NIH cancer researcher and a librarian for the Montgomery County Schools, said she always was a news junkie, but the idea of being a librarian never occurred to her. She studied Chaucer and got a master’s in literary criticism at Carnegie-Mellon before finding herself back in Washington, looking for work. Crites started working as a clerk at the Library of Congress, received her Master of Library Science degree at the University of Maryland College of Information Studies, and learned to find key materials before search vehicles like Lexis/Nexis existed. With her knowledge of legislation and current events, she began working a weekend shift at the Post in 1990 and was hired full-time in 1992. After nearly three decades at the Post, she has become the backbone of national political investigations.
Tracy Jeffcott, MLS, Class of 2012
Tracy Jeffcott is the recipient of the 2017-18 Maryland School Librarian of the Year award, which honors a school librarian for exemplary service and outstanding achievements in the field of school library media. The award is presented by the Maryland Association of School Librarians (MASL). Tracy was born and raised in North Canton, Ohio. She received an Early Childhood Education BS from Miami University (Ohio), a Masters of Library Science from the University of Maryland, and is currently working on an Administration Certification from Hood College. Tracy began her career teaching third grade and currently serves as a Media Specialist to students in grades Kindergarten to 5 at Somerset Elementary School in Montgomery County. She works collaboratively with classroom teachers to support the integration of information literacy skills into daily instruction. Tracy utilizes Google Apps for Education (GAFE) to maximize collaboration, instruction, and student engagement.
Most recently, Tracy created a dynamic MakerSpace for all students to engage in independent STEAM related inquiry. She serves on the school leadership team, administrative core team, and STEM PLC. She is the representative for elementary school media specialists on the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) Councils on Teaching and Learning and a member of the Montgomery County Educational Media Specialists Association. For the last three years, Tracy has worked as a mentor to first-year Media Specialists. She has spent summers participating in curriculum summits to create instructional resources for Montgomery County elementary educators.
In October 2016, Tracy was honored to host Media Specialists from around the United States as a part of the School Library Journal Leadership Summit tour. She facilitates professional development for Somerset staff members and MCPS employees. During the 2017-2018 school year, Tracy began working with MASL members to build a professional development committee focused on supporting media specialists around the state of Maryland.
Dr. Diane Ledbetter Barlow, MLS, Class of 1975
Dr. Diane L. Barlow, who passed February 6, 2018, was a monumental figure in the history of the University of Maryland College of Information Studies (iSchool). Diane was a part of the iSchool almost continually from 1975 through 2017 as a student, faculty, staff, dean, and mentor. Diane began her lifelong relationship with the iSchool as a graduate student in 1975, receiving her master’s degree in Library and Information Services in 1976. She returned to the iSchool as a doctoral student studying children’s literature, receiving her PhD in Library and Information Studies in 1989. Diane’s love of literature and libraries, and particularly of fostering connections among librarians, would continue to be a passion throughout her life.
Diane’s dedication to the field of information science led her directly into a leadership position at the iSchool in 1990 as the Director of Student Services, where for five years she adeptly led teams and brought advancement to the iSchool. From 1995 through 2016, she then served as Assistant Dean, Associate Dean, and Special Assistant to the Dean consecutively, retiring in 2016. Throughout these roles, Diane continued her championship of growth and advancement for the iSchool, which directly shaped what the college has become today – a top ten ranked information science school and nationally recognized public research institution.
Diane’s dedication to advancing and connecting the library community extended well outside the walls of the iSchool. She was actively involved in the American Library Association, Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE), Maryland Library Association, and Institute for Museum and Library Services. Her service to these organizations spanned over twenty years and ranged from committee and review work to serving on the Executive Board. Diane also served as Executive Director of the Citizen for Maryland Libraries from 2011 to 2017. She was known for her unrelenting dedication to this organization and to all Maryland libraries. Click here to learn more about Dr. Diane Barlow's legacy.
Jamuna Sundararajan, MIM, Class of 2005
Jamuna is currently the President and CEO of Cyberbahn Federal Solutions LLC. Cyberbahn Federal Solutions LLC was Jamuna's dream since 1995, which she transformed into reality in 2014 after 22+ years of experience in IT consulting Business development. Cyberbahn Federal Solutions, LLC is one of the fastest-growing, woman-owned small businesses providing Information Technology and Management consulting and training services primarily to the federal government and other commercial clients. "There are countless number of lessons and techniques I learned during my MIM days; to cite a few that I learned from my professors: formulating a clear strategy and thinking critically when approaching a problem; gathering intelligence on competitors/doing due-diligence for informed, effective decision making/ being agile to adapt to the context/ to keep learning as an ongoing effort," shares Jamuna.
"The UMD iSchool helped me in many different ways; learning to network, adapt to work independently and as well as in team setting, approach a problem not to just solve the issue temporarily but to employ the right strategy with proper planning and critical thinking with some mitigation strategies, to be able to listen more effectively with anyone be it your employees/customers, leadership skills, tacit knowledge, presentation skills with your brand values, establishing and maintaining trust, loyalty and integrity with your customers."
Her advice to current students: "Make an effort to build some professional contacts and industry connections in your respective field or core competencies while you are still in College. There are some great networking opportunities available; the relationships and associations that you make during the course of your classwork can bring you opportunities/ benefits for years down the road."
Melissa Wertheimer, MLIS, Class of 2017
Meet Melissa Wertheimer, Archivist of the Music Library Association and Music Reference Specialist at the Library of Congress. Melissa’s impressive career has roots in a dual education in music and information science. She graduated from the iSchool with her MLIS in December 2017, with a specialization in Archives and Digital Curation. She also holds a Master of Music (MM) degree in Piccolo Performance from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Music (BM) degree in Flute Performance from Ithaca College.
Melissa accepted the position of Archivist of the Music Library Association (MLA) for a five-year term through 2022. In this prestigious position, Melissa works with the MLA board, chapters, and local repositories to oversee both national and local archives. She is also spearheading the establishment of additional local archives. Melissa is an advocate of educating the public about the importance of the MLA’s music archives - developing engaging conference presentations and exciting online exhibits.
Melissa is also able to combine her passions for music, archives, and educating the public as a Music Reference Specialist at the Library of Congress. She works with individuals and groups, guiding them in collection use and helping them to find materials such as performing arts special collections, sheet music, and music copyrights.
In addition to these important positions, Melissa pursues her interests in music and archives by participating in public events, blogging, researching potential archive acquisitions, and curating exhibits.