Student Profiles

Q&A with Katrine Guinn

Katrine GuinnWhat is your current position and what are you working on?
I am employed with Lockheed Martin as a Senior Data Warehouse Analyst. I work at Fort Bragg, N.C., in the Historian Office as their Digital Archivist. I am currently digitizing 40 years of history and cleaning up digital files in their repository.

What motivated you to pursue the master’s in Digital Curation and Management?
Prior to my current position, I worked as a records manager. I wanted to find a master’s program that I could do completely online and I could further my passion for records.

What has your experience with the program been so far?
SILS has helped me when I needed assistance. The program has provided some good challenges in learning things that I had not previously worked with. There is a wide variety of classes that are covered in this program. So far, I have enjoyed it immensely.

How do you hope to use your degree?
I believe the degree has helped me gain knowledge that I did not previously get in my 17 years as an information manager in the U.S. Air Force. I hope that through my degree can help will to bring the digital curation perspective to the federal government.

What information advice would you like to offer current or future SILS students?
If you plan to take the PSM program, I hope that you understand and see the need to help everyday data creators find ways to preserve their information for future generations.

Lisa Lawless on earning her master's to preserve local history  

When I accepted the job of Branch Librarian at Danbury Public Library, I was amazed at the amount of information stored in the Stokes County History section of our library. I was also amazed to find that many historical documents, including family histories, were handwritten or manually typed, with the only copy stuffed inside a file cabinet.

We have other items to preserve such as hundreds of photos taken in the 1980s of houses and architecture around the county. Many of those buildings are now gone, and the only thing left is that single photo stored in a drawer. There are other handwritten books of family history that need preservation; one is called the "wooden book" because whoever made it put the information inside a wooden front and back over and then wood burned the title into it. 

While searching for ways to update and preserve this information, I stumbled across the Professional Science Master’s degree in Digital Curation at UNC-Chapel Hill which was the perfect answer. When I found it I thought "that's it!" Now I have the mindset and skills required to digitize these documents and make them accessible for everyone to use. 

As the world continues to become more and more digital, the PSM in Digital Curation has helped me to ensure that I have a job in the workplaces of the future while also helping to preserve my county’s history. Faculty support has been phenomenal, especially Professor Tibbo. My original lack of technology skills was treated with simplified explanations and patient understanding as I figured it out.

I have also learned more about computers and technology than I ever thought possible. Especially with no real computer background other than MS Office, I realized there is a whole new world out there in the computer field that I was completely unaware of. 

In my current position as a branch librarian, the PSM has opened new worlds and ideas and made me a better librarian as well as a better person, in addition to helping the Stokes County Historical Society and the county in general by preserving historical information. I've learned that you can't keep everything, but the things that are kept need to be findable with metadata and accessible to the designated community which is Stokes County and anyone who has ever had family here.