SAA @ UCLA presents “UCLA Information Studies: Fields of Endeavor.” The Fields of Endeavor series introduces UCLA Library and Information Studies program graduates and current interns who are out in the field taking knowledge learned in the program and putting it to use! We are excited to feature John Bultena.
Name: John Bultena
Graduation Year: 2012
MLIS Focus: Library Studies
Title and Site: Lecturer –
Merritt Writing Program | University of California, Merced
What do you do all day?
I lecture on and discuss writing with my students. The challenge comes in dealing with a widely diverse student population in terms of both background and fields of study. The Merritt Writing Program at UC Merced is built around the notion of developing the writing of students in such a way that they can explain their ideas to much wider audiences. This is crucial as interdisciplinary research is necessary in contemporary academics. Due to the background afforded to me while at UCLA, I can approach a wide range of topics with base level knowledge at the worse. This means I can help students bridge the gaps between their field and other fields that they may not even be aware of.
First personal item that you put on your desk:
Large cloth Blind Guardian poster.
Most frequently asked question when you tell people what you do:
Professor, because lecturer sounds like all I do is talk. But specifically I explain to people that because UC Merced is a research focused university, part of my job is to enable students with the tools to be able to discuss things interdisciplinary. This is by far the most helpful aspect I gained from my time at UCLA, knowing how to approach research from disciplines outside my formal training, seeing the underlying logics.
Recommendation(s) for students who’d like your job:
Be able to talk to anyone of any discipline. Find the connections between fields and be able to put on whatever hat it is you need to. Demonstrate proactivity and see the places for improvement in both your own and your department’s instruction. Also, know your institution’s librarians and provide constructive feedback.
One piece of advice for upcoming grads on the job hunt:
Whatever you are doing, just go in there and demonstrate that you bring something exceptional to the table. That can include the capacity to coordinate ideas or generate ideas. Show employers that you are not just there to sit in a cubical and churn out paper work, show them that you have been out to other places and bring new material into a job. Apply for jobs you do not even have an interest in taking, just get your name out there. Bring a world to them.
One archival commandment you would establish:
If you are going to a place a $2.1 million dollar book in someone’s hands, please let them know beforehand.
Favorite archive to visit:
Merced Courthouse Museum. Mostly because I grew up in the museum. My mother, Maureen Bultena, was the first female president of the Merced Historical Society. I spent a lot of time in the museum because during the early 1980’s while it was being renovated and established as a museum. In fact, my baby shower was held there. I try to go back at least once a year, whether for a fundraiser, to take a friend, or just to remember.
Favorite/Most memorable course from UCLA IS Department:
There were a lot memories made during courses at UCLA. I would say Human Computer Interaction with Dr. Leah Lievrouw. I think I produced my most original and powerful ideas during that class. The class had a great flow and I got to explore a topic I felt passionate about, comic books. During this time, in early 2012, digital comics were taking off but I always felt cheated when I read comics that way. What was really memorable was that was the first time I ever did academic work with my friend, J.H. Williams III. He is a comic book artist and writer, who has worked with Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, and currently Neil Gaiman. I was really interested in how digital comic books work, regarding subscription models and the actual interaction with them. I found them lacking and by using my friend’s comic book work, I was able to demonstrate this lack and come up with proactive solutions. This time Williams gave to help my group in their research on this topic really made the project shine. Our work felt validated by such an influential figure in comics, while Williams learned the power that Information Sciences has to offer his field.
Course you wish you had taken/was offered at UCLA IS Department:
A course in academic library relations, that is, how do you get departments to approach your services. Or better yet, how do you approach and sell yourself to those who you view as needing your services. Archives and libraries can easily become invisible or reified, I make extra efforts in my classes to work with the library of UC Merced.