Katheryn Dieckhaus is an executive director at the Washington Historical Society and Museum in Washington, Missouri. In the spring, she’s expected to graduate with a master’s in library and information science (MLIS) with an emphasis in archival studies from the University of Missouri (Mizzou). She looks forward to using her skills right away to give back to her hometown where she lives and works.
“My education at Mizzou directly impacts my ability to apply industry standards of acquisition, appraisal, description and preservation to the Society's archive and rare book collections,” Dieckhaus said.
She enjoyed learning online during her undergraduate education and then felt comfortable pursuing graduate education 100% online with Mizzou.
“I did not consider other schools for my master’s,” she said. “Mizzou is a great school. I wanted to be somewhere close by if I could, and there was no other reason to consider any other program.”
Working as a trustee for the Washington Public Library Board of Trustees and the Downtown Washington, Inc. Board of Trustees, she set her sights on a job opening that married her love of libraries, history and information science.
“As I was looking through résumés for a library director position, it hit me that the only thing holding me back from that type of position was the degree.”
In order to advance in her profession, she enrolled in the archival studies graduate program.
“When I began my studies, I knew I wasn't living up to my potential. I wanted more options for myself, but I also wanted to show my children that it is worth it to pursue your goals regardless of the difficulty or setbacks.”
Flexibility students need
While balancing her full-time job and life as a mom, she takes one course each semester at night or when she can fit it into her schedule. Oftentimes at her son's baseball practices or daughter's dance classes.
“I kept reminding myself that the tortoise wins the race,” she said.
Despite any difficulties she has faced, she wants to celebrate her accomplishments when she graduates in the spring. She said she has learned a few things about herself during her graduate studies like her tenacity, letting go of perfection, and the pride she feels for entering this program.
“I worked really hard to get where I am, and I’m more proud of myself. I don't have to regret anything today.”
Dieckhaus said flexibility is probably the number one thing she likes about the master’s in library and information science program, as well as her courses and teachers.
“I actually love that most of my courses have been focused on reading journal articles and using the library resources that are available to us so we don’t have to buy as many books. We’re also learning many different aspects of the profession rather than just from a textbook, so that’s been fascinating to see the different ways people are learning about the profession and how it’s changing right in front of our eyes.”
Looking ahead, Dieckhaus plans to become a certified archivist with the Academy of Certified Archivists.
“I never want to stop growing or stop learning,” Dieckhaus said. “It makes me a more well-rounded person. I want to make sure, even after this program, I’m consistent in my craft and keep doing research. It helps me at my job.”
She also wants to make content more accessible at her job, based on the medium she’s working with like film, photographs and documents. She hopes to get her workplace's archive digitized in the next five to 10 years, but faces similar challenges as other archivists, like costs and technology.
“Google has created this expectation that everything is easy to get. Archives are even more restricted content. It’s not a library where you can pull it off the shelf … If I’m not putting them online, we may as well not keep them.”
Dieckhaus has been involved in student and community organizations and hopes to get more involved again after she finishes her master’s. She was vice president of the Mizzou Student Chapter of the Society of American Archivists and a member of the Association of St. Louis Area Archivists. She said she likes the community of archivists she’s met.
“That’s probably been one of the most surprising things — the community our profession has.”
About the program
The University of Missouri’s 39-credit master’s in library and information science with an emphasis in archival studies is offered 100% online with the School of Information Science and Learning Technologies (SISLT). It’s Missouri’s only archive-focused program. It’s accredited by the American Library Association and prepares you to take the Academy of Certified Archivists examination. It’s nationally ranked as a best online program in two categories and SISLT is part of iSchools, an international coalition of leading information schools. Learn more by visiting the program page.
SISLT Student Support Office
Associate Teaching Professor, School of Information Science & Learning Technologies