Student Spotlight: Ianna Breese at the Humanities and Social Sciences Library

Student employment in the McGill Library benefits the entire McGill community. At almost 100 strong this academic year, McGill Library student workers gain valuable work experience while engaging in academic pursuits.  Student navigators, curatorial interns, special project assistants and student researchers bring an immeasurable amount to the life and culture of the Library. Over the next few weeks, Library Matters will share testimonials from library student workers, many of whom come to us through programs like McGill’s Work Study Program and are supported by students societies and associations like the SSMU Library Improvement Fund (LIF), the Arts Undergraduate Society, the McGill Music Undergraduate Student Association (MUSA) and Post Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS). Thank you to all our student workers – your hard work and dedication mean the world to the Library and McGill!

Ianna Breese (MS’19,  Master of Information Studies) was the Map Collection Graduate Student Project Assistant from June 2018-April 2019. Her position was supported by the PGSS.

Maps to be organized. Photo: Ianna Breese

Photo: Ianna Breese

Ianna assessed the physical organization of the print map and air photo collection located on the second floor of the Humanities & Social Sciences Library (HSSL). She developed a plan and moved forward with the implementation of improvements to the map folders following best practices in other map libraries. Over the course of her time in the position, a major reorganization occurred resulting in topographic and thematic maps in Library of Congress shelf order. A detailed spreadsheet was created to describe drawer contents, new accurate labels were affixed, new map scanning procedures were tried and tested and the pile of years of un-shelved print maps diminished considerably. The work experience has been a positive one for Breese.

Ianna discovered, organized, and shared a variety of materials found in the map collection. Tweet and photos by Ianna Breese.

Ianna discovered, organized, and shared a variety of materials found in the map collection. Tweet and photos by Ianna Breese.

Here are her impressions:

My student project assistant position in the HSSL Maps Collection has been an invaluable addition to my graduate school experience. Getting practical work experience and making connections in the Library Information Studies (LIS) field is an essential part of building my career, but the School of Information Studies does not have many professional connections with the greater McGill community for its graduate students. Currently, the option of a practicum/internship is scheduled for a student’s last semester and has limited openings each year. This does not provide nearly enough work experience opportunities for students, especially those who do not qualify for work-study or Young Canada Works positions.


1978 map series from the Academy for Spatial Research and Planning. Photo: Ianna Breese

1978 map series from the Academy for Spatial Research and Planning. Photo: Ianna Breese

Thanks to PGSS funding, these last nine months working in the Maps Collection has provided me with practical skills and experience I could not have gotten otherwise. I have been able to put into practice many of the theories and concepts I have learned in my courses and lectures. My inventory skills, research techniques, and organization and planning skills have all been tested and improved. Additionally, I have also learned a great deal about the day-to-day operations within an institution and what it is really like to be an information professional. All of these are immeasurable to rounding out my graduate school experience and preparing me for a career in LIS.

Ianna was joined in November 2018 by School of Information Studies graduate student, Zain Ahmad, forming a team, who assisted HSSL librarians with a consolidation of map cabinets into the map room, an exit of a topographic series for digitization and identification of maps for consideration by Rare Books & Special Collections. It has been a very busy time in the map room and their work has resulted in vastly improved access to the print map collection!

Organization of maps is almost complete. April 2019. Photo: Ianna Breese

The organization of maps is well underway in April 2019. Photo: Ianna Breese

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