When she is not working as a library assistant at Clive (IA) Public Library or taking care of her large family (four boys!), Megan Okesson is pursuing her MS/LIS degree through the iSchool's Leep (online) program. After graduation, she would like to work as a public or academic librarian but would also be thrilled to receive a job offer from the Library of Congress.
Why did you decide to pursue an LIS degree?
I decided to pursue an LIS degree after my sons were in school, and I had more time for classes. For years I had wanted to pursue graduate studies but couldn’t narrow it down to one degree. I talked with a librarian friend, and she persuaded me to apply for a part-time position as a library assistant to get a taste of working in the library before pursuing the degree. After two years of working in the library, I knew this was the path I wanted to go in my career and applied to graduate school.
Why did you choose the iSchool at Illinois?
I used the ALA website to research top library science schools that offered distance learning for the entire degree. Illinois quickly became the top choice for two reasons—its reputation and its program flexibility tailored around the student's interests. A year into the program, I know I made the right choice.
What particular LIS topics interest you the most?
This is a tough one—going into the program, I would have said topics such as cataloging, social issues in the library, or readers' advisory because those were topics I knew I wanted to learn more about in class. But with each course I take, my interests grow as my eyes have been opened to other issues. Right now, I'm interested in learning how to spot inequities in libraries and coming up with solutions that benefit the most vulnerable library patrons.
What do you do outside of class?
I work as a library assistant in a public library in the Des Moines metro area. It has allowed me the opportunity to put to use skills I have learned in class, like cataloging and conducting readers’ advisory interviews. Outside of work, I stay busy raising four boys with my husband and running after our pandemic puppy, a Boston Terrier named Edgar. Before I started this program, I wrote and taught a study on the book of Ecclesiastes for a group of 100 women. That project prepared me well for graduate courses because it forced me to take a big idea and break it down into manageable chunks, plus it taught me to be more disciplined with deadlines.
What career plans or goals do you have?
My plan after graduation is to work full time as a public or academic librarian. One of my many dream jobs is to work in the Library of Congress someday but working in a university setting again (I was formerly a registrar) interests me as well.