Get to know Alison Rollins: master’s student, librarian, and poet

Alison Rollins

When iSchool master’s student Alison Rollins saw that Nerinx Hall High School had a job opening for a librarian, she jumped at the chance to work for her alma mater. She was hired in in August, bringing several years of experience in youth services for public libraries.

The new position has allowed Rollins to gain additional real-world skills while working on her MS in library and information science. She decided to pursue the iSchool’s top-ranked degree in order to give her a career advantage and expand her skill set to other areas of LIS.

“Because I have so much experience working in youth services, I try to take classes at the iSchool that are not focused on that area,” she said. Instead, she’s taking courses like Social Science Research in LIS (LIS 519), Museum Informatics (LIS 490), and Academic Librarianship (LIS 567). “I’ve tried to make my studies at U of I supplement my hands-on experience . . . . rather than repeat it.”

In addition to balancing a busy work schedule with classes and projects, Rollins has been able to make time to pursue her creative passion, poetry. She has always had a love for language and began writing poems in high school—and is now reconnecting with the teacher who first reviewed her poetry, who is a colleague at Nerinx Hall High.

“I think as a poet you’re able to use [words] for play, make them be experimental or surreal, and there are really no boundaries or rules. In that way, you can challenge the culture and the status quo, have a counter-narrative, or destruct what’s considered normative . . . . That’s what I hope my work does,” she said.

Rollins’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, River Styx, Vinyl, and elsewhere. This fall, the Poetry Foundation awarded her a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, which included a $25,800 prize to encourage the further study and writing of poetry. She also won second prize in the 2016 James H. Nash Poetry Contest and was honored as a Cave Canem Foundation 2016 Retreat Fellow. In June, she was recognized as a 2016-2017 American Library Association Spectrum Scholar.

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