2017/2018 iSchool (SLAIS) MAS Co-op Student of the Year

Each year, the Arts Co-op Program recognizes an iSchool (SLAIS) Master of Archival Studies (MAS) co-op student for outstanding achievement in all aspects of the student’s performance, including academics, the workplace, and professional/community involvement. This year’s winner, Allison Jones, was honoured for their work term with the Digitized Okanagan History (DOH) project at UBC Okanagan. In the words of their supervisor, Paige Hohmann, “In every measure – efficiency, organization, ability to transfer prior experience, professionalism, communication, and knowledge of library and archives related concepts – Allison’s performance exceeded established expectations and set new benchmarks for success.”

Excellence in the Workplace

As Allison explains, DOH is a collaborative project that relies on strong relationships between UBC Okanagan and numerous museums and archives throughout the Okanagan region. Drawing on their knowledge from MLIS and MAS core courses, Allison was able to excel in project management, communications, and community outreach tasks that supported UBC Okanagan’s role in promoting and providing digitization services for the project. Some of their significant projects with DOH include designing and implementing an expanded communication strategy, initiating the development of Indigenous Subject Headings guidelines for DOH, presenting at UBCO’s annual Leader in Residence conference, and contributing to the UBCO Library Diversity and Inclusion Working Group.

One of Allison’s most notable achievements is contributing to the preparation of over 20,000 objects for upload into DOH’s online repository, which will triple the organization’s online collections. Allison credits this milestone to developing and improving DOH’s project management procedures to maximize uploads and reduce backlogged materials through numerous small initiatives. For example, Allison drew on their background in ARST 515: Arrangement and Description to develop physical control guidelines for the care of materials on loan to DOH, enabling their team to responsibly borrow materials from partners and store them on-site at UBCO. Allison shares that their co-op experience has given them more confidence in working with a wide range of organizations, from 100% volunteer-run local heritage societies to Kelowna’s municipal archives that are fully staffed, and that learning how to maintain strong, trusting relationships with numerous partners will serve them well when doing collaborative work in the future.

Community Involvement

In addition to their work with DOH, Allison is an active member of the community, both in Vancouver and at UBC. Since 2015, Allison has volunteered as a collective member at Spartacus Books, a 100% volunteer-run bookstore. In this role, they provide customer service, design book displays, and organize engaging and relevant public events, such as book clubs and workshops. In addition to their studies at UBC’s iSchool, Allison served as a Lecturer Hiring Committee Member and is currently the MLIS Co-President of the Library and Archival Studies Students’ Association (LASSA). In working with LASSA, they serve as an official representative for students, communicating their concerns and needs, and identifying appropriate responses to the faculty, staff, and director of the iSchool. As an Arts Co-op student, Allison has helped inspire incoming students to participate in the program with a video highlighting their experience and success at DOH.

Co-op: A Foundation for Future Success

Overall, Allison feels that their experience during co-op has helped to sharpen their focus for their academic studies. “Based on my experience working with partner organizations, performing information literacy instruction, and building relationships to support DOH’s work with Indigenous partners, I have chosen to concentrate my studies this year on developing skills to work in community-led settings and to perform reference, outreach, and programming services,” Allison reflects. They share that the lessons they have learned in their MAS courses have proven invaluable in supporting community archives, and they look forward to bringing these skills with them in future work with similar organizations.