Library On/Library Off

Nicolibrarian explores the secret life of information

Caroline Nappo – Profiles in Awesome

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Building on my last Profile in Awesome on Miriam Sweeney, this week I’m sharing the joy that is Caroline Nappo, a fellow GSLISer who is pursuing her PhD at Illinois. I also met Caroline during “Boot Camp,” where she was the TA in charge of my discussion section. Caroline introduced me to the works of Jesse Shera, the radical cataloging of Sanford Berman, and is always willing to share information and advice. Caroline is also co-president of the Graduate Employees’ Organization at the University of Illinois, and she mentions below her passion for workers rights and the need for public funding of essential services.

Nicole Forsythe: Tell me about your background and current work.

Caroline Nappo

Caroline Nappo

Caroine Nappo: I am currently a doctoral student in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  Before that I was a master’s student at GSLIS, and before that I was an indexer with the Alternative Press Index (  As an undergraduate I worked at the campus library, which is where I first experienced the vocational epiphany that propelled me on the path to library school.

NF: What made you want to go to library school?

CN: I had always enjoyed research, reading, and writing (not necessarily in that order).  As a child I made regular use of both public and school libraries; however, it was not until I went to college that I learned what librarians were about.   After working at Antioch College’s Olive Kettering Library for a few semesters, I realized that professional librarianship was a perfect fit for me.  Suddenly, it was apparent to me that one could make a career out of organizing information and helping others find it.  I vowed to go to library school someday.

NF: What do you hope to do with an MLIS?

CN: Most recently, I used it to bulk up my application to the doctoral program – the GSLIS doctoral program prefers the master’s degree as a prerequisite.  So, with my MLIS plus the PhD I am hoping to teach in a library school.  At the same time, I have not yet ruled out professional librarianship entirely.  I still love connecting people with information.  Even though I am not working as a librarian right now, I feel like I apply my MLIS skills on a regular basis.  At its core, librarianship is about compassionate facilitation between humans and information.

NF: What do you see as a big issue in the world relating to LIS – challenges for the field itself, info challenges for the rest of the world, or challenges for individuals?

CN: The privatization of information is a major issue for LIS.  The tradition of American librarianship has relied so much upon free access to information.  In the digital age, libraries increasingly trade access for ownership.  Libraries spend extraordinary amounts of money to lease databases.  Digitized materials can be incredibly useful, but we must ask on whose terms digital information is made available.

NF:  What might “information leadership” mean to you?

CN: Not sure – this sounds like a vague synonym for librarianship.

NF:  Where do you get information to stay on top of LIS issues, or issues in a sub-field you’re into?

CN: I am a member of the American Library Association and the Illinois Library Association.  I’m also a member of several affiliated ALA groups such as the GLBT Round Table, the Social Responsibilities Round Table, the Library History Round Table.  I read various mailing lists and attend conferences.  I subscribe to magazines and talk to my friends and colleagues.  All of these activities help keep me in the loop.

NF: Is there anything else you’d like to say?

CN: Library workers need to see their work as political.  It is a political act to provide diverse and authoritative information on a free basis.  Toward that end, librarians need to fight for public funding.  Cuts to social services such as libraries, education, and health care are only going to get worse unless we start raising more of a ruckus.


Are you interested in being profiled in “Profiles in Awesome” or know someone you’d like to see here? Have a good idea for a question to ask? Email me at nicolibrarian{at} gmail {dot}com.


Written by nicolibrarian

February 28, 2010 at 8:31 pm

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