Category: SLIS News

James L. “Jim” Baggett (MLIS ’97) Named the 2021 Outstanding MLIS Alumnus

Jim Baggett is the 2021 recipient of the School of Library and Information Studies MLIS Alumnus of the Year. Jim graduated in 1997 from the Master of Library and Information Studies program with a concentration in special collections. He is currently the Head of the Birmingham Public Library Archives and Archivist for the City of Birmingham, Alabama. Some of his responsibilities include supervision over employees and projects, collecting and actively preserving material on the history of Birmingham and Birmingham city records, and assisting researchers who visit or contact the Archives from around the globe. He also represents his institution in professional organization, directs digitization projects, and curates exhibits.

Baggett elaborated on how COVID-19 has impacted the services provided at his institution. “For much of 2020 we were unable to serve researchers in person, so we expanded the services that we offer remotely, including digitizing items for researchers. All of our programming is being done online and we plan to keep the online component after we return to in-person programming because we are drawing hundreds more views online that we would draw in-person visitors.”

If he could come back to UA and take any class, Jim said he would probably take a book arts class. “I was never able to work that into my schedule years ago, but I always suspected they were having more fun than the rest of us.” Some advice he has for current students is to “get as much hands-on experience as you can through internships and volunteering. It’s the only way to know for sure that this is the career you want, and it will make you much more employable.”

Baggett said the American Library Association (ALA) Core Value that most inspires the work he does is diversity. “Diversity is a core value that guides how we build and operate the Archives. While we focus on preserving the history of a fairly small geographic area—Birmingham and the surrounding area—within that we have a diverse collection that includes letters, diaries, scrapbooks, photographs, and oral history interviews from a wide variety of Birmingham’s communities. These include the African American community, Jewish community, Birmingham women, the Hispanic community and other immigrant communities, and most recently our LGBTQ+ communities. We hold records of large corporations, prominent families, and political and community leaders, but we also hold the papers of homemakers, schoolteachers, musicians, athletes, activists, labor organizers, environmentalists, and the diaries of a shoe salesman.”


Dr. Cathleen Baker (MFA ’00, PhD ’04) named Book Arts Outstanding Alumna for 2021

Dr. Cathleen Baker is the 2021 recipient of the School of Library and Information Studies Book Arts Alumnus of the Year. Dr. Baker graduated in 2000 with a Master of Fine Arts in Book Arts. In 2016 she retired from University of Michigan Library, Conservation Department, where she was a designated Conservation Librarian Emerita. Currently, she is the proprietor of The Legacy Press (1997–present) where she serves as editor/copy editor, designer, and overall supervisor of activities related to The Legacy Press. “I cannot say the pandemic has affected my publishing, though it did change how I shipped orders for much of April through June 2020 when sales also dropped precipitously,” Dr. Baker explained. If allowed to come back to UA and take any class, Dr. Baker said she would retake letterpress printing on the handpress to acquire more experience and though understanding of the processes. Her words of advice for current and prospective students are “Set your expectations high, beyond what you think you can learn and do.”

Dr. Baker was celebrated on campus during Honors Week and was a featured speaker at the SLIS Honors Day virtual recognition on April 9. Thank you, Dr. Baker, for your contributions to the field of book arts!


Makiba Foster (MLIS ’07) Named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker

Makiba Foster, a 2007 MLIS graduate of UA SLIS and our 2017 Outstanding Alumna, was recently honored in Library Journal’s 2021 Movers and Shakers in the Digital Developers category. She currently works as the Regional Library Manager for the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She has been a trailblazer and innovator with actively preserving and archiving Black history, leading projects such as Archiving the Black Web and the Documenting Ferguson archive. A link to the Library Journal article featuring her can be found here. Congratulations, Makiba, on this exceptional achievement and we wish you continued success in the important work you are doing in the library field!

Dr. Nancy Pack, SLIS Advisory Board member, Honored as UT Distinguished Alumna

Dr. Nancy Pack, Executive Director of the Alabama Public Library Service and member of the SLIS Advisory Board established by Dr. Elmborg in 2019, was recently awarded the 2021 SIS Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Tennessee School of Information Sciences. Her position oversees all public libraries in Alabama, as well as the Alabama Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. We congratulate her on this outstanding achievement!

Revival of The Alabama Librarian

Recently, the Alabama Library Association revived its official publication, The Alabama Librarian. The latest issue was released this spring and several SLIS alumni are a part of the editorial board, including M. Delores Carlito (University of Alabama at Birmingham, Professor and Head of the Mervyn H. Sterne Library Department of Research and Learning), Jessica Hayes (Auburn University at Montgomery, Head of Public Services Librarian), Peggy Kain (University of Alabama at Birmingham, Associate Professor and Head of Resource Acquisition & Discovery), Lori Northrup (Samford University, Associate Dean and Chair of Collection Management/Acquisitions), Laura Pitts (Scottsboro Public Library, Director), Jessica E. Platt (Alabama State University Levi Watkins Learning Center, Education Doctoral Librarian), and Jodi Poe (Jacksonville State University, Head of Technical Services). The publication can be accessed through this link. There has also been a call for articles to be published in future issues, and the contact information is listed on the publication’s website as well. We are thrilled to have thoughtful and engaged SLIS alumni to promote healthy discourse and shed light on issues librarians face across the Yellowhammer state.