John Antill – Student Spotlight

What degree are you pursuing at the KSU iSchool?

Master of Science in Knowledge Management

Tell us a little bit about your academic and/or professional background and area(s) of focus.

Joined the military in 1998 as a Marine Firefighter. Learned a lot about the way different groups of people shared their ideas to allow firefighters to better and more safely complete their jobs. People worked with industries to identify areas that would be safe for firefighters to cut, bend, and work on. I got out of the Marine Corps in 2002 and started working contracts in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Knowledge there was shared for contracts, but nothing else. I returned to the States as I was completing my Bachelor of Science in Public Safety Administration. I graduated with honors as being part of the national honor society Alpha Chi with Summa Cum Laude distinction. I joined the National Guard as an Officer and it wasn’t until I went to FT Gordon and met Keith Davis that I realized what the fire departments were doing was knowledge management and I wanted to do more, as it enabled people to work faster and better. I deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, where I developed a way to do training online for the Information Management Course, which allowed soldiers to have elevated rights on computes. 

I moved to Augusta,GA in 2013 and worked at the Cyber CoE for a year. I picked up a contract working at Joint Force Headquarters Cyber (Army) in Nov 2014 and have been with them since. I wanted to better myself in knowledge management so I started on my degree in 2018. I went to the Army qualifier School for KM, Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, and took the certificate courses at KM Institute for the Certified Knowledge Manager (CKM), Certified Knowledge Specialist in Knowledge Transfer and Information Architecture, and finally i did a project to receive the Master of CKM.

Professional affiliations:

VFW,  American Legion, Signal Corps and the Signal Regimental Association, Cyber Regiment

Describe recent project(s) or research that you’ve been working on.

I am working on two projects to finish my degree. One is a research paper about a process to better classification and data transfer in the army. It will create a cost avoidance of $20,572,774 in manning hours with an average salary of $100,355 annually.

The second project I am working on is Crisis Management Calendar deconfliction. It goes over the different products and processes to align meetings with the business objectives to avoid wasteful meetings.

What iSchool class(es) have you enjoyed the most?

I’ve enjoyed the UX courses the most so far. The understanding of why a universal design is better than accessibility options. A well designed item will vastly outperform one that is designed around a specific needs group.

What issues related to information interest you most?

Shareability. It is one thing to find something you are looking for, but not to be able to access frustrates me.

Are there any websites, apps, podcasts or other resources you’d recommend other students explore?

Specifically no. What I would say is for every 2 podcasts, websites, apps, or resources you spend your time on, do 1 for fun. Life is a balance and too much of something you do not do for fun will set the precedence for your life. Find the balance of fun, work, and life to succeed.

If you had one superpower:

Time stop.

How do you like to spend time outside of work?

I like to ride motorcycles, swim, hunt, fish, and watch Sci Fi such as Dr Who.

How do you balance school with work and/or home life?

Since a true balance is never achieved, I try to make quality time with family since work is a straight amount of time. 

What career paths are you considering?

I am pursuing a way to increase Knowledge Management.

Do you have any other advice for other students?

Try to get all your homework and discussion areas done as early as possible, since you do not know what will come up for the weekend. Too many students wait until the weekend to do those and rush to get them done in time. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Say hi, thank you, and help out any chance you get. You never know if that is the next person to change your life.

Megan Calhoun – Student Spotlight

Can you tell us a little about the grant you recently did a successful application for as part of your MLIS coursework? 

The course work for the Preservation and Conservation of Heritage Materials required us to find an institution that was willing/needed a preservation assessment done on a collection—a preservation assessment involves examining and reporting on the preservation conditions of the organization, facility, and collection and supplying recommendations based on that examination. The follow up to this was to complete an NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) Preservation Grant application. The nature of this grant meant needing to find a smaller institution to work with.

After a few failed queries, a colleague at the State Archives of Ohio (where I volunteered) directed me to the Ohio Local History Alliance, which is a member network of usually smaller local history institutions—historical societies, museums, etc. In scanning through member list, I was immediately struck by Indian Lake Area Historical Society (ILAHS). Indian Lake has a special place in my heart because it was one of the places we often vacationed as a family when I was growing up. Time spent on (or in) the lake with my brother, sister, and cousins are happy memories for me.

I discovered when reviewing the society’s website that they had just opened a small museum to display some of their artifacts and historical materials, which was open on the weekends during the summer (this was 2019 summer semester). So, I called society’s director, John Coleman, and right off the bat he was super enthusiastic about the idea of a preservation assessment and possible grant. Because they were just now bringing in all of these collections—photographs, postcards, memorabilia, newspapers—that had previously been stored in various locations, into a centralized space, it was a great time for someone to get in there and tell them what they were dealing with and what should be done from a preservation perspective.

The ILAHS is an all-volunteer run organization, and even though several of the board members had attended meetings and workshops dealing with preservation issues, they were very happy to have someone receiving college-level instruction take a look at what they had.

The collection on which I performed the preservation assessment was their postcard collection, but really all of their collections were in the same sort of preservation need. They had not yet acquired archival-quality housing or enclosures for the materials and were uncertain about what types of materials they needed. The museum, which they had just opened and relocated the resources to, was viewed by the society as a temporary location (they were offered use of the space for free) as a way to build up some recognition for the society and better share their collections with the community until such time as they could afford to find a more permanent home for them. As such, the location was not ideal from a preservation standpoint. They were also in need to additional shelving on which to store all of their collections and were uncertain about what was best.

I had a great experience working with several of the board members, all of whom were very excited to start doing something with the collections. Right about the time that I was getting ready to move onto the grant portion of the project, I became aware of the Ohio History Fund Grant, which had an application deadline in the early fall. I thought that this grant might be a better fit for my group than the NEH grant and they were aware of it and open to applying for it. They had never completed a grant application before and were a bit intimidated by the process (AS WAS I!!), but with the guidance of my professor, Rebecca Elder, we ended up with what we considered a small but good grant request. The grant required that we match at least 40% of the total project amount, but because ILAHS is an all-volunteer organization, most of our matching funds were in the form of personnel time.

They announced the winners of the grant (there were a total of 8 recipients) at a Statehood Day Ceremony on Feb, 26 2019, and John let me know that they had won!

The grant awarded was $2,849 and covers the purchase of preservation materials—housings, enclosures, UV protective covers for the lights, UV film for the windows, and shelving.

What do you plan to do with this grant in the future?

The money for the grant came in in May, and originally the plan was that I would contribute my expertise this past summer in helping the Indian Lake Area Historical Society order the preservation materials they needed. Unfortunately, COVID derailed that plan, as it has done with so much else recently.  Currently, ILAHS is still shut down, but when it is safe to do so, we will more forward, so they can begin rehousing the collections and providing a more preservation-friendly environment for them, so they’ll be around for a long time to come.

Why is this type of work important to you?

This type of work is important to me on various fronts. As someone who just loves history, getting a chance to be on the front line helping to make sure that the tangible elements of that history survive is very powerful. Collections like photographs, newspapers, postcards, and paper ephemera are especially fragile and vulnerable to the ravages of time if they are not kept in ideal conditions. Additionally, so much of this vulnerable historical material is kept by organizations like the Indian Lake Area Historical Society, small organizations in small communities that don’t have much in the way of funds to support the often expensive preservation efforts.

How has the Preservation and Conservation of Heritage Materials course helped you become a better student? Have any other course made an impact on you? 

I’m not looking to become a better student. I have been a good student for a loooong time. I got my undergraduate in Art History with a minor in History from Ohio University in 2001, I got a Master’s in Professional Writing from Towson University in Maryland in 2004, and now, here I am again…a student. I love learning and I love expanding my professional horizons. After receiving my Professional Writing degree, I worked for a number of years in the publishing industry and am still currently doing freelance editing work for the publishing company I worked for out in Maryland.

What the Preservation and Conservation of Heritage Materials course helped me do is get some real hands-on experience with archival type work. I loved that it got me out there helping people do something that actually needed to be done.

I have enjoyed most of my courses at Kent State, but the other one that I think had a big impact on me was the Cultural Heritage Informatics course that I took this past fall (2019). Like the Preservation and Conservation course, the Informatics course had a special project that you worked on for the duration, which really makes it more personal and tailored to the students’ interests. For that course I built a website ( around my chosen cultural heritage object—the Union Station Arch in Columbus—and implemented various informatics techniques that allow the users to learn more about and really experience this object.

What drew you to Kent State and the iSchool

I am a 41-year-old mother of 3, whose youngest daughter is still in preschool. I started this program when she was just 5 months old. I not only am their primary childcare provider, but I also still do freelance work when it comes in. Nothing but an iSchool would work for me at this stage in my life. The flexibility is great.

Kent State is also the only University in the state that offers an MLIS degree, and their program has a great reputation and doesn’t just cover library science—since I’m primarily interested in archival studies and digital preservation. My professors have been excellent, and I feel like I am not only learning a lot, but that the coursework is very up to date with the state of the information fields today. I have been very happy with my choice (Although I do feel a little bit bad that I have never actually visited campus!!!!)

Do you have future plans, upon receiving your degree? What would your dream job be? 

I’m currently enrolled in the final course that I need to graduate—Metadata Architecture and Implementation, and then all that remains is a practicum. I had hoped to fulfil that requirement this past summer with an internship at OCLC, but once again, COVID reared its ugly head. I’m working closely with my advisor and some professors to try and navigate those waters, but still plan to graduate this coming spring or summer. I’m also just working on the final edits to an article that will hopefully be published in the American Archivist about strategies used in working with privacy-sensitive digital collections. My dream job would be working with the digital side of the field, and metadata is a strong interest of mine.

Brendan Latran – Student Spotlight

Tell us a little about your background.

My name is Brendan Latran, and I am scheduled to graduate at the end of 2020 from the iSchool with my MLIS. My journey to this point in my life has been unconventional, but during these times, “unconventional” is more ordinary now than it was a year ago.

I was born and raised in Long Valley, New Jersey, and I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film, Video, and Interactive Media from Quinnipiac University. I originally came to Kent State University to earn an MFA in Scenic Design, but after a particular project for the teaching assistantship I earned, I pivoted towards Library and Information Sciences; within a month I was accepted into the MLIS program. Since I started the program the realm of intelligence work, political strategy, knowledge management, and research librarianship has been the main focus of my studies.

Tell us about your internship site.

I interned at Bandwidth, Inc. as their first Information Heuristics Expert (intern) for the 2020 Summer, and I’ve been greatly honored to have my internship period extended till I graduate at the end of the year. Bandwidth is a software company providing “Software as a Service” (SaaS) for telecommunications across the country, for example in text messaging/notifications, emergency/911 communications, etc.

How did you find out about this internship?

I found out about the internship when I was searching for internships with the term “masters in library and information science” on LinkedIn. That really was the key to finding any internship opportunities for future MLIS students. If you can find a posting with that requirement, you should be relatively successful.

What sort of work did you do during your internship?

Mostly the work revolved around “problem-solving.” I was given a business challenge involving knowledge management, and the capturing and sharing of tacit knowledge, and was told to research new tools and techniques. From there, I developed an “out of the box” solution that is modeled like an “old-school, OSS-like intelligence network” that can capture, discover, and synthesize new knowledge to be used by the company.

These proposed solutions have changed though since I’ve continued my work. More time on the project means I can go “deeper down the rabbit-hole” and discover things I hadn’t come across yet. It is a far more complex challenge now, after discovering the inner workings of the AGILE Software Development process. I am now researching what I’ve deemed the “AGILEvolution” and trying to find out what the next stage to better capture tacit knowledge in an extremely dynamic workspace.

What was your favorite part of the internship?

I love puzzles, and that’s exactly what this project is; a puzzle. The ongoing adventure of testing theories, and discovering new bits of information, always kept me interested. I was able to apply my skills towards a real-life situation and test out my work in an enterprise environment.

The people were amazing to work with. Despite the fact that everything was virtual (thank you, COVID), everyone was supportive and very friendly to me and the rest of the interns. They called us “Headliners” because the interns were doing really important work rather than doing typical “roadie” work (i.e. “getting coffee,” and basic intern grunt work).

What is your advice to students looking to complete an internship?

PERSISTENCE. Another important thing I learned is that library and information science is a very diverse degree and a group of skills that can be applied to a wide variety of different jobs and sectors; especially, the private sector. Be open to the possibilities that you can do with your experience and the degree; don’t just limit your potential to only one thing, apply to anything and everything.

The other thing that I want to share with any incoming students into the program involves the massive “up-turn” of our employment opportunities during the pandemic. I had the majority of my future jobs get dissolved during the pandemic (thankfully the internship was unaffected), but you need to keep in mind is that all of those events are out of your control; you can’t do anything about it, and that’s okay; that’s how the world works. If you can’t do anything about it, why are you worried about it? This isn’t the end of the game, you’re just going to need to be a little more creative and bold with your next move.

The best way to go after these problems starts within yourself. If your attitude is mostly negative, you’ve already lost. When I received the news about my future opportunities, I thought to myself: “Okay, a little bit of a setback, but I’ve lived and succeeded through much worse. We’re just gonna need to hunker down and work hard.” That would be my advice to you in working towards your success as a newly graduated LIS professional. And if you ever need advice, I am more than happy to help!