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 pleased to feature UCLA IS PhD candidate, Patricia Garcia.
Graduation Year: 2015
MLIS Focus: Archival Studies
PhD Area of Research: My dissertation is an ethnographic study on the use of primary sources in elementary school classrooms to promote inquiry-based science education. I work with two teachers at the UCLA Lab School to collect data that I hope can be used by professional archivists to extend specialized reference services to teachers who are seeking primary sources for their classroom instruction.
Why did you choose to pursue a higher degree and why did you choose the UCLA IS Department?
As a first-generation college student, I decided that achieving a PhD would be a personal goal. I chose the UCLA IS Department because the program is service and social justice oriented. I wanted to be in a department that advocated for research with real-world effects. I’m glad that I have found a department that supports a dissertation project that is trying to bring two professions – teachers and archivists – into a productive collaboration.
Describe your daily schedule (or week if days vary):
Since I am completely done with course work, my schedule varies throughout the week. I alternate between gaining professional experience at the Clark Library and researching on campus for my dissertation. When I am on campus, I am usually collecting data at the UCLA Lab School for my dissertation. I spend the day observing two teachers conduct science lessons using primary sources.
Are you currently involved with a project or job? Please describe:
I work at the Clark Library as an intern where I am gaining experience is archival processing and rare book cataloging. Both of the projects at the Clark Library are associated with Ward Ritchie, a California fine printer who passed away in 1996. Ritchie bequeathed his personal library and papers to the Clark Library and now I am working with these materials to make them accessible to scholars. The internship is a year long, and I would definitely recommend the opportunity to any master’s student who is searching for an internship.
If applicable, how does your job or current project connect to your PhD research?
The internship at the Clark Library has been very beneficial to my dissertation research because I am learning about the everyday realities of the archival profession that you don’t necessarily learn from coursework. Since the aim of my research is to improve archival reference services for teachers, I believe having hands-on archival experience will help me make informed suggestions.
How does the doctoral student experience differ from that of the MLIS student?
The main difference is the classroom experience. There can be about 35 students enrolled in the required MLIS courses and the courses are usually taught in a lecture style. The doctoral seminars have way less students enrolled and are conducted more like discussion sections. However, I really enjoyed the MLIS courses because the larger class size meant that there was a greater variety of students who could contribute to the discussion.
Greatest experience so far as doctoral student (i.e., being published, attending conference, special reader work…):
I honestly really enjoy being a special reader for the Archives and Manuscripts course. The course is usually taken by first year MLIS students so I get to meet the new cohorts and learn about their interests. I also am able to undertake projects with the students. For instance, this past quarter I worked with a group of students to help build an archive at the National Chavez Center. Although we are still far from being done, I enjoyed working with the students to understand the fundamentals of building an archive from scratch.
Most challenging aspect: The most challenging aspect is definitely time management. As a doctoral student, I have to devote time to different responsibilities, such as dissertation research, special reader office hours, grading, academic publishing, and on-campus library jobs. Since I am no longer is courses, I have to stay self-motivated to meet deadlines.
Most frequent response when you tell people what you do:
“Soooo, you’re a librarian?” I’ve found that people don’t really differentiate between museum professionals, librarians, and archivists. My own mother tells our family that I’m a librarian even though I work in the field of archival studies and have never worked a reference desk.
Recommendation(s) for students who’d like to apply to the PhD program:
Prospective students should familiarize themselves with the research interests of the current students and faculty members to figure out if UCLA is the right fit. It would really stink to try to conduct research without any colleagues who could help you talk it out.
One information studies doctoral student commandment you would establish (ex: “Thou shalt not _________”):
Thou shalt not provide long-winded answers to simple questions.
Favorite archive to visit: The Harry Ransom Center at UT-Austin.
Favorite/Most memorable course from UCLA IS Department: Ethnographic Methods with Professor Chris Kelty. We each were required to undertake a short ethnographic project where we observed human subjects. The students chose subjects like soccer moms and Santa Monica yoga practitioners. Needless to say, we had very interesting data to discuss every week.
Course you wish you had taken/was offered at UCLA IS Department: I wish I had taken descriptive metadata with Murtha Baca. She’s an adjunct professor from the Getty Research Institute, and I’ve heard she’s the queen of metadata!