(photo provided by David Fiora)
After starting the Library and Information Science master’s program (MLIS) at Luddy Indianapolis in 2021, David Fiora became aware of the Junior Fellows Program at the US Library of Congress from a classmate. He then learned about the copyright metadata capture project that was being conducted by the US Copyright Office, which he felt best reflected his skills and interest as a library professional and was his top project choice. The project, which began at the end of May, was full-time and fully-remote, allowing Fiora to work out of his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Fiora, who graduated at the end of the summer 2023 semester, said that library information science reflects the skills and interests that he has, specifically the opportunity to interact with history, continual learning for both yourself and the people you interact with, and the opportunity to perform public service in a meaningful way.
Fiora’s interest in library information science started when he interned at White Water Shaker Village as a history undergraduate student. The internship turned out to be archives-focused and through this experience he began to realize he enjoyed the work that he was doing. After this internship was over, he began to strongly consider his academic and professional future.
When considering his career, he met with professors, and library and archive professionals to learn about their professional and academic experiences and how they continued to develop and learn. “Through this learning experience, I realized that the best path forward for me academically was to pursue a master’s degree in library and information science, as the wide variety of career opportunities reflected my interest in this field, but also because I was not totally sure what type of job I wanted to have in the future. During my two years of graduate school, my goals for my professional future have evolved and changed significantly through my classwork and professional experiences.”
Fiora chose Luddy as he felt confident in the professors through his initial interactions. “Being from Cincinnati, I felt very familiar with and comfortable attending Indiana University for graduate school. I’ve spent so much time in Indiana and had known about Indiana University that it felt very natural to attend IU for this graduate program even though it was fully remote. I liked the idea of visiting the Indianapolis campus when I wanted to, as it was only two hours away. The lower price point for the Indianapolis campus made it very affordable to attend and furthered my interest and desire in pursuing this opportunity immediately after graduating with my bachelor’s degree. Also, it turned out that there was a scholarship for students from the Cincinnati area, although I didn’t know about this prior to applying and starting classes,” Fiora said.
Working in the US Copyright Office
Fiora’s job in the copyright card catalog metadata capture project was that of quality assurance as a first level reviewer for metadata that was extracted from the catalog cards of historical copyright registration records dating prior to 1977. This work involved him fixing errors and inconsistencies that resulted from the optical character recognition used to extract the data, and due to human error when the cards were written. It also involved him researching copyright records at times to determine what the right answer for a problem is. He also assisted the copyright office by developing training guides and learning manuals that will be used in the copyright card catalog metadata capture project. This work has helped to improve the searchability and overall quality of the copyright records in the Copyright Public Records System, the catalog of copyright public records the US Copyright Office is in the process of developing.
He said he has learned so much about the technical services side of librarianship through this project. “This project provided me great insight into the world of copyright law, metadata, contracts, database management, the research process, extensible markup language, and instruction design. I’ve also learned so much about the work that the Library of Congress does, and important skills about how to be a professional in the world today. The Library of Congress has done a great job mixing hands-on practical experience and giving lessons to interns about how to prepare their job search, recognizing that we are emerging professionals,” Fiora said.
“Attending library school gave me the knowledge needed to have the confidence to pursue this opportunity. Although I was just working at the public library and had only been introduced to the world of librarianship a few years prior, I felt that my time, skills, and knowledge learned from library school gave me the ability to obtain this highly sought after opportunity. My class work focused on the archival sciences and technical services side of librarianship helped me to gain the knowledge needed to be prepared for my time in the copyright office.
“My advisor Denise Rayman was very helpful in pursuing this opportunity. She has been great at providing encouragement, giving recommendations about how I can continue my growth, and always being there when I have questions about being a library professional. Lydia Spotts was also very important in my preparation for this opportunity; the archival focus classes that she taught were the foundation upon which I was able to get this opportunity.”
Future plans and advice for others
Fiora plans on pursuing a technical services-focused librarianship opportunity in his future. It is his goal to work in an academic library, helping students to achieve their goals. He also has an interest in working in an archives-focused position, based on his prior experiences. He said his time being an intern for the Library of Congress has also inspired an interest to continue working for the federal government.
His advice to other prospective library science students is: Never let an opportunity pass you by, growth happens when you get out of your comfort zone, don’t be afraid to take risks, you never know where an opportunity will lead you to. “I never would have expected that I would be a participant in the Junior Fellows program at the Library of Congress, but I am forever grateful that I took this risk and went for an opportunity that will positively change my professional future,” Fiora said. “Pursuing this opportunity was a risk for myself, as it meant leaving a full-time position in the public library. But in order to grow and continue to develop my skills, I knew it was necessary to move on and pursue this opportunity. Throughout my time in library school, I have always tried to pursue every single opportunity that has been made available to me, from participating in student organizations, professional organizations, attending learning opportunities, and going to library conferences in person. I feel that all these experiences have made my time in library school more well-rounded and have complemented the classwork that I have done. Moving forward in my professional future, I plan to continue to never let an opportunity to increase my skills and capabilities and librarianship pass me by, as I never know where it’ll lead me to for the better.”