Stewart Van Cleve: I’m from Starkville, Mississippi originally, but I’ve lived in Minneapolis for almost 20 years, with two years in Portland. I got a B.S. in Urban Studies from the University of Minnesota (2009) and a Master of Urban Studies from Portland State University (2013) in Oregon. I’m graduating from St. Kate’s this December.
St. Kate’s SAA: Where do you work?
Stewart: I currently work for Metro Transit’s Rail Division, which is responsible for operating and maintaining the light rail transit system.
St. Kate’s SAA: What is the title of your job?
Stewart: Library Science Intern.
St. Kate’s SAA: What are your duties?
Stewart: At first, I was tasked with cleaning up thousands of architectural drawings, product manuals, and maintenance reports. When I first started, the materials were in piles on the floor in a room that had been designated the “library.” I soon discovered that all of the documents were available electronically, and little of the printed material had any value to employees, who are primarily engineers. The paper copies were only being kept for historic purposes.
After some pretty intense weeding, I have archived most of the material using a customized filing system, and I’m now focused on organizing the electronic documents using an ECMS called Application Xtender, as well as creating a comprehensive records management program for the organization. The task is pretty immense—there are about 120,000 documents kept in the department I work for alone—so appraisal and project management are pretty key to the job.
St. Kate’s SAA: Best part of job?
Stewart: I’ve learned a lot about trains and engineering, something I never imagined that I would ever have exposure to. I’m happy that I can help the organization become more efficient and organized. I also get free rides on all of Metro Transit’s services; as an avid transit user, that’s a big deal!
St. Kate’s SAA: Most memorable moment/artifact?
Stewart: I’m in the process of migrating files to our ECMS, and I keep discovering bizarre documents and subfolders that were created by folks who didn’t understand the public nature of the drive.
One document that I found was just called “Questions for Endocrinologist” and it was at least ten years old. I definitely deleted that one.
St. Kate’s SAA: How did you get the job?
Stewart: I heard about it from someone else in the program, who heard about it from the MLIS Blog.
St. Kate’s SAA: Any other fun tidbits?
Stewart: I’m the author of Land of 10,000 Loves: A History of Queer Minnesota (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), and I recently published a case study with Kyle Parsons at the Minnesota Historical Society about a summer history program that connected high school students to LGBTQ History in Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites (ed. Susan Ferentinos, Rowman and Littlefield, 2014).
I also recently broke my glasses indulging in karaoke, one of my not-so-secret nocturnal pastimes. I think I was singing “Tell Him” by the Exciters at the time.
St. Kate’s SAA: Most memorable class so far at St. Kate’s?
Stewart: I definitely loved Molly Hazelton’s Project Management course, where we got to work with the amazing audiotape collection at the Walker. I’m equally excited for the Advanced Archives class, where we are working in the Clocktower Archives in Minneapolis City Hall. I discovered it when I was doing research for 10,000 Loves back in 2010; it’s an amazing space!
St. Kate’s SAA: Any job related or general advice for students/recent grads at St. Kate’s?
Stewart: Don’t be afraid of risks or rejection. Whenever you apply yourself to a job, a grant, or a fellowship, you are putting your name and your work out there, and influential people will see it and remember you. I’ve been rejected more times than I can count, but each application helped me build a name for myself.
I have also found that a good portion of getting a job, and keeping it, is being a good person to work with. When people are thinking of hiring you, part of the question they’re secretly asking themselves is: “Will I be able to stand this person for forty hours a week?”