Current SLIS Student Processes Collection from Renowned NBC News Journalist

The items run from the mundane to the fascinating: appointment books and rocks from the Great Wall of China; contracts and a press badge from the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana; a high school yearbook and a Pan Am bag.

The Papers of Tom Brokaw: A Life & Career fills more than 90 boxes, and Elizabeth Riordan pored over every single paper and artifact—some more than once. The University of Iowa School of Library and Information Sciences graduate student from Des Moines, Iowa, spent the better part of the last year preparing the collection, which will become accessible to the public Feb. 1, 2018.

“Her knowledge of this collection is second to none,” says Greg Prickman, head of the Department of Special Collections at UI Libraries.

Brokaw, one of the world’s most renowned and decorated journalists, attended the UI during his first year of college, from 1958–59, and donated his papers and artifacts to the UI Libraries in November 2016. That a student would be put in charge of such an important collection may seem unusual, but Prickman says giving students such experiences is an intrinsic part of the UI’s mission.

“My hope is always that at the end of their time working with a collection and as a student at this institution, they’re going to get a job, they’re going to be qualified, and they’re going to have experience under their belt that other institutions are going to find desirable,” Prickman says. “Experience is the first thing we look for when hiring for these jobs. You learn by doing.”

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