Uplifting diverse communities through advocacy, art

Katherine Witzig

Leep (MSLIS online) student Katherine Witzig is an advocate, scholar, and artist. She is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and an advocate within the 2SLGBTQ+ and disability communities, drawing upon her personal experiences to amplify the voices of underserved populations. Witzig serves as chair for the Oklahoma Library Association's Committee of Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums and co-chair of the Library of Congress Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) Task Group for Metadata Related to Indigenous Peoples of the Americas.

At the recent NISO Plus conference in Baltimore, Maryland, Witzig was invited to present a lightning talk for the session "Open Scholarship and Bibliodiversity." She discussed her advocacy work for inclusive and culturally reflective metadata and her identity as it relates to her conception of librarianship. As a NISO Plus Scholar, Witzig received travel support and complimentary registration to participate in the conference.

"The purpose of the scholarship is to increase the diversity of attendees and contributors in the conference and in the organization itself. I look forward to this professional development opportunity and the chance to connect and collaborate with others in different areas of the information industry than libraries," she said.

Witzig holds a BA in English from the University of Central Oklahoma and BA in Spanish from Oklahoma City University. She decided to pursue an LIS degree because of the important role that libraries have played in her life.

"From checking out books to appease my voracious reading habit as a child to working or volunteering in libraries for over half of my life, libraries have been a place of comfort and challenge," she said.

While Witzig could have attended an ALA-accredited library program in her home state of Oklahoma, she decided to earn her degree online through the iSchool’s Leep program. In doing so, Witzig could continue her work in the law library at Oklahoma City University. In the future, she would like to teach in an academic library setting and serve as a library consultant to help organizations do their best work.

"My primary interest is Indigenous librarianship and the incorporation of Indigenous epistemologies into the library field," said Witzig. "To me, this is an overarching interest that influences many different elements of the industry. Digital humanities and accessibility are other topics that I particularly enjoy."

When she isn't in class or at work, Witzig is an artist whose favorite mediums are beadwork and sewing. She teaches beadwork technique and artistry to classes of Native K-12 students in partnership with Epic Charter Schools in Oklahoma City. Witzig shares her work (Kitty Kat Arts & Crafts) on Instagram and Facebook.

"Beading is an incredibly cathartic experience—I feel present in the moment while still feeling connected to beadworkers before me and ones that will come after me. I was inspired to sew by my great-grandmother, and now I love making lots of fun and practical creations," she said.

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