Helen Kim …Success Story and Archivist

My interview with success story, Helen

Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Helen: I just joined the staff at Visual Communications, an Asian American media arts nonprofit in the Little Tokyo neighborhood in downtown LA. As their Preservation Manager, I work with a lot of AV materials. I have a long history with VC; I first volunteered for the annual film festival event about 7 years ago. Last summer, I volunteered with them again, working in their archives processing photo collections. Right before I graduated with my MSIS, they gave me a call and asked me if I was interested in working there as my predecessor was leaving. Besides the job, I owe them a lot more– I met my fiancé through them at their film festival over five years ago!

Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Helen: Ah! This question is so hard to answer! The Margaret Herrick Library at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a dream come true for any library and film lover. Saw some really awesome records, including a Gregory Peck-annotated script, lipstick kisses of Marilyn Monroe and other actresses, and more– so many amazing things that I couldn’t keep track of everything I saw. The nerdy information side of me loved their subject files.

Naomi: Favorite book?
Helen: Another difficult question! Well, as of right now, I’d have to say that I loved 1Q84 (I recommend getting the e-book because it is hard to lift up if you like to read on the couch like me). I also like Bowl of Cherries by Millard Kaufman, who wrote it as a first-time novelist at age 90! Childhood favorites include the Little House on the Prairie series, anything by Madeline L’Engle, The Phantom Tollbooth, and the Little Prince. The latter two are very interesting to re-read as an adult.

Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Helen: I love that libraries provide huge and important technical and community services for people. I like to keep calm on Facebook and stay away from anything inflammatory, but when someone writes about libraries as useless buildings, watch out! I become that person going on and on about how great libraries are. I especially love the community programs and how the libraries often act as community center. The Los Angeles Public Library’s Grandparents and Books program for kids is a great example of the library engaging seniors in intergenerational activities. I’m also a big fan of the Oakland Public Library and their lending program for tools.

Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Helen: I’m going to go ahead and shamelessly put in a plug for a podcast that my friends and I created as grad students at the University of Texas. iSchoolYou covers a variety of information topics about libraries, archives, usability, and information architecture. Check it out!

Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Helen: Just put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to ask people for advice, help, and guidance. The worst they can say is no, and if that happens, that’s OK. I asked my professors, mentors, and employers to look at my CV and give me advice. My friends and I must have read a million of each others’ cover letters between December and May. Lastly, don’t be afraid to negotiate after getting an offer!

Helen Kim, a native Angeleno, recently graduated from the School of Information at The University of Texas at Austin with an MS in Information Studies. Prior to joining the information field, Helen worked in the nonprofit realm, calling potential bone marrow donors who came up as matches for blood cancer and disorder patients. In her spare time, Helen enjoys listening to podcasts, reading blogs, walking trails, making ice cream, and spending time with friends, family, and her fiancé.

reposted from 7/31/12, 5/24/13 and formerly titled Helen Kim …In Six  – also formerly Helen Kim …Success Story and Preservation Manager (she is now an Archivist)