Category: SLIS News

Alumni Feature – Allison Milham (MFA ’12)

Allison Milham, MFA '12
Allison Milham, MFA ’12

We are delighted to feature another wonderful alumna from UA SLIS this month: Allison Milham. She graduated in 2012 with an MFA in Book Arts. She is currently a visiting instructor in the Book Arts department during Professor Embree’s sabbatical.

Allison is currently teaching two courses – one in bookbinding and one in letterpress printing. “Previously, I’ve taught book arts at Colorado College, The University of Utah and Florida State University. I’m really enjoying working with the graduate students here in SLIS and getting to spend time in these great studios again! In the summer of next year, I’ll return to Colorado College to teach a book arts course at a guest instructor. I’m also currently in massage school and plan to start working in that field next year as well.”

We are now at the year and a half mark since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and people of all ages and occupations are still feeling its effects on their lives. “COVID-19 has shifted things for me as an artist and educator and has—as is the case for all of us—forced me to be much more flexible and more adaptable with how I approach work and other responsibilities I have in my life. Several commitments (teaching, artist residencies, etc.) were canceled and/or pushed back due to the pandemic, including my coming here to UA. I’ve been lucky to have had a fairly steady flow of commission work throughout the pandemic including printing and binding freelance gigs that have helped keep me afloat.”

Allison said if she could come back to UA to take any one class, she would love to take Professor Kyle Holland’s Contemporary Papermaking course. “I learned papermaking with Steve Miller when I was in the program and just fell in love. In the class I took with Steve, we were primarily focused on pulling consistent, beautifully formed sheets to be used for printing and binding applications. But I love the idea of papermaking as an art form in and of itself. I’ve been seeing some of the work students are making in Kyle’s class this semester and there’s some stunning pigmenting and pulp painting going on!”

Allison’s advice for current and prospective students is mostly directed towards those who a pursuing, or are interested in, the MFA or Certificate in Book Arts program, “It’s a good idea to think hard and creatively about how you will use your degree and skills to support yourself in the future. The Book Arts is a very small field, which, on the one hand is wonderful because it means we have a very tight-knit community and it’s relatively easy to connect with folks. But on the other hand, there just aren’t that many opportunities for steady employment. I think many students have hopes to go into teaching following their MFA, but the reality is that teaching opportunities are limited, especially full-time/tenure positions. The good news in there are many other avenues and ways to plug in with the unique and advanced skillset we gain through this program. There are positions in book conservation, in community arts outreach, and lots of possibilities for getting your own business going in job printing, small press publishing, book binding and repair work, graphic design, etc.”

“It’s a really good idea if you’re wanting to be self-employed to take business classes and learn all you can about how to be successful in marketing, sales, and all the things that tend to be a challenge for us artists! I also encourage students to get creative about how they might make a living. It’s possible to do a number of things to make it work. I have a friend who is a letterpress printer. Part of the year he makes prints and teaches, and then the other part of the year he drives a commercial boat, and that’s how he’s able to get by. I know folks who wait tables or do other side jobs in-between work in the arts and education. It’s a tough time right now, but there are lots of ways to make it work—you just have to be flexible and creative. I think above all, it’s important to be clear about what you desire for yourself in this life and what unique gifts you have to offer to the world. Then try your best to figure out how to make it work from there.”

We thank Allison for giving us the time to learn more about her and the work she is doing. We can’t wait to see where your Book Arts journey takes you!

Faculty Spotlight – August 2021

Dr. Bharat Mehra had a number of publications debut this month:

Elena Lopez, Bharat Mehra, and Margaret Capse edited a book entitled A Librarian’s Guide to Engaging Families in Learning that was published by Libraries Unlimited (Santa Barbara, CA) in August 2021. Bharat Mehra and Scott Sikes published two chapters in the book entitled “Research Paradigms for Engaging Families in Public Libraries” and “Information Needs of Rural Libraries: A Social Justice Imperative.” Read more about this title here.

Rong Tang, Bharat Mehra, Jia Tina Du, and Yuxiang Chris Zhao published their “Paradigm Shift in the Field of Information Special Issue Editorial” in the Journal of the Association of Information Science and Technology. Access the editorial here.

Bharat Mehra published an article entitled “Social Justice Design and Implementation: Innovative Pedagogies to Transform LIS Education” in the Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 62(4). Early access to the article abstract can be found here.

Dr. Bob Riter presented at the 2021 Society of American Archivists (SAA) Research Forum, held on July 21st and July 28th. His paper, entitled “Artifactual Pluralism: The Relationship Between Narrative and Artifactual Criticism” analyzes the relationship between narrative and artifactual pluralism, provides a historical contextualization, and an examination of contemporary conceptualizations.

Dr. Steven Yates and Dr. Jessica Ross (PhD, ’18) presented at the 2021 United for Libraries Virtual Conference on August 18. Their presentation was titled “Every Volunteer an Advocate: Empowering Boards and Friends for Action” and guided attendees through the environmental scanning process as part of developing library volunteers into advocates for local, state, and national resources for libraries of all types.

Alumni Spotlight – August 2021

Jaena Hollingsworth Alabi (MLIS, ’06) was recently promoted to full professor in Auburn University Libraries. Alabi currently serves as librarian for English, psychological sciences, and Africana studies and is the Ralph Brown Draughon Library Help Desk Coordinator at Auburn.

Julia M. Brown (MLIS, ’16) was named interim director of the Douglas County Public Library in Nevada. Read more about her background and current appointment here.

Dr. Rachel Fleming-May (PhD, ’08) and Regina Mays have published a new book, Fundamentals of Planning and Assessment for Libraries. Fleming-May is an associate professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. A press release about the book’s publication can be found here.

Congratulations to our alumni on these outstanding accomplishments!

Faculty Spotlight – July 2021

Dr. Bharat Mehra has had a number of recent publications and presentations become available:

Bharat Mehra served as a guest editor of the special issue entitled “Intersecting Theories and Methods to Research Social Justice in LIS Scholarship” of the International Journal of Information, Diversity, and Inclusion 5(2) in May 2021. Access the issue’s table of contents here. His editorial entitled “Operationalizing Theories and Methods to Integrate Social Justice in LIS Scholarship” is available here.

LaVerne Gray and Bharat Mehra published an article in April 2021 entitled “Going Against the Current of Hegemonic “White-IST” Discourse: A Doctoral Program Journey from Critical Student + Guide Perspectives” in the Journal of Education for Library and Information Science 62 (2), 182-200. Read the article’s abstract here.

At the of May 2021, the Journal of Librarianship and Information Science published “Agriculture-Based Community Engagement in Rural Libraries” by Vandana Singh, Bharat Mehra, and Everette Scott Sikes. The article can be accessed here.

Elena M. Lopez, Maggie Capse, and Bharat Mehra moderated and contributed to a panel entitled “Know, Partner, Lead: Co-Designing New Directions for Family Engagement in Public Libraries” during the 2021 American Library Association Annual Virtual Conference held June 23-29. Joseph Winberry and Bharat Mehra delivered a paper presentation entitled “Fifty Years in the Fight: A Thematic Analysis of Social Responsibilities Round Table Newsletters, 1969-2019” during the conference as well.

Student Spotlight – July 2021

Kandi Massey, current MLIS student, was awarded the 2021 Master’s Level Scholarship from the Alabama School Library Association at their virtual conference in June.

Valeria Dávila, current MLIS student, and Emily Reynolds (MLIS ’21) will be presenting a poster at the Society of American Archivists (SAA) conference in August on the new podcast the UA SAA launched back in the spring. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the podcast, this link will take you to the series! The poster will be available at this link on August 2 and will be available throughout the conference.

Congratulations to all on these accomplishments!