KSU MuseLab gives students ability to learn about museums at campus library

Christopher Woods

Library and information science graduate students with a concentration in museum studies can learn more about their field through the MuseLab, an area of the third floor of the University Library that gives them real-world museum experience.

Students can showcase their work in the lab, a space directed by assistant professor Kiersten Latham that is dedicated to museum tools and exhibiting displays.

Graduate assistant Cori Iannaggi is in her first year in the program and works alongside Latham as the MuseLab manager.

“Getting the chance to work at the MuseLab with Dr. Latham and other museum studies students has been an amazing experience,” Iannaggi said. “Although it is a lot of work, creating and installing exhibits is a fun and challenging experience. The ultimate reward is seeing your ideas come to life and witnessing visitors admire and enjoy the exhibit.”     

The MuseLab was part of the School of Library Science’s renovation completed in June 2013. The lab includes tools students can use for their displays such as 3-D printing, wide-format printing and vinyl cutting.

Latham said the museum studies program started in 2010 when she started working at the university. She said she was brought to the university to develop the specialization and said classes started in Fall 2011.

Latham said the MLIS takes two years to complete. She said the program offers six courses for its students to complete in order to graduate and that one course is partially held in Italy.

Latham said that in the past she has taught all of the courses but now has two adjuncts from the field helping her.  

“I’ve come to realize that before starting this program, I really had no idea how a museum operated,” Iannaggi said. “I thought real-world practical experience is all you needed to be a successful museum professional, but I’ve come to value the theories discussed in class and now attempt to apply the lessons I’ve learned through my work at the MuseLab.”  

Junior Pan-African Studies major Zac Thomas said he used to have similar views about how museums work.

“I never knew that a degree to work in a museum was even a thing,” Thomas said. “I thought a person just needed to apply and go through interviews like the next person. I guess it does help if you have all of this experience.”

Iannaggi said she always thought library and museum institutions were separate.

“When I saw that Kent State offered the MLIS with a specialization in museum studies, everything clicked,” Iannaggi said. “It made sense that these institutions, which both stress the importance of acquiring and sharing information, would complement each other.”

Contact Christopher Woods at [email protected].

Editor’s note: Because of an editing error, the quote “I’ve come to realize that before starting this program, I really had no idea how a museum operated” was misattributed to Kiersten Latham. The quote should have been attributed to graduate assistant Cori Iannaggi and has been changed.