MLS Alumna Molly Schwartz Receives Fulbright Research Grant

MLS Alumna Molly Schwartz Receives Fulbright Research Grant

iSchool Master of Library Science (MLS) alumna Molly Schwartz has been awarded a 2014-15 Fulbright Grant to research and study in Finland. Molly, who completed the archives, records and information management specialization in 2013, will work with the National Library of Finland and Aalto University on her project, “User-Centered Design for Digital Cultural Heritage Portals.” She will focus her research on the National Library of Finland’s online portal, Finna, and conduct user-experience testing to improve the portal’s usability with concepts from user-centered design. With her project, Molly aims to make information more accessible and understandable to all. “My main Fulbright project goal is to push the boundaries for how cultural heritage and/or government institutions provide access to their information,” Molly says. “I want to learn about, discover, and apply ways that trustworthy information can be shared in a seamless and user-friendly fashion.”

Molly’s research collaboration with the National Library of Finland grew after she attended the 2012 International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions conference in Helsinki, for which she received a Rovelstad Scholarship from the Council on Library and Information Resources. There, she learned about the Finna portal and developed her Fulbright project idea. Molly gained extensive experience in user-centered design as an MLS student. As a Web Usability Intern in the General Services Administration’s Center for Excellence in Digital Government, Molly was inspired to find new ways to share information online and break down access barriers.  “My supervisor at GSA, Jonathan Rubin, introduced me to the core concepts of user-centered design and encouraged me to develop my skills through research, hands-on practice, and events,” she says. Additionally, an independent study with Professor John Bertot on large-scale digital cultural heritage projects directly informed her Fulbright project.

After her Fulbright project is completed, Molly intends to continue working on information access. “The most exciting thing about digital accessibility is the potential of tools like APIs and social media to break down information barriers in unprecedented ways,” Molly says. “I think using technology to holistically transform the mechanics of information sharing and information management will only improve the traditional cycle of knowledge.”

Currently, Molly is a Junior Analyst in the Bureau for International Information Programs at the State Department. She is also finishing her appointment as a National Digital Stewardship Resident, a nine-month program for recent MLS graduates sponsored by the Library of Congress and the Institute for Museum and Library Services that supports study in digital preservation through projects with institutions in the Washington, D.C. area. Molly worked with the Association of Research Libraries on her project, which aimed to improve digital accessibility in research libraries.

During her time at the iSchool, Molly was a research assistant for iPAC and president of Student Archivists at Maryland, the college chapter of the Society of American Archivists. A Maryland native, Molly earned her B.A. and M.A. in history from Johns Hopkins University.

The Fulbright Program is administered by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to foster scholarly exchange of ideas between the U.S. and foreign countries. Fulbright Grants support learning and research in more than 155 countries.