Faculty & Staff

New Mosaic fellow sets out plans for Special Collections

Senior library specialist Dan Johnson was awarded a scholarship to finish out his studies in library science.

The Association of Research Libraries and Society of American Archivists awarded senior library specialist Dan Johnson with a scholarship to finish out his studies in library science.  |  Courtesy of UH.edu

A UH senior library specialist has been selected for the Association of Research Libraries and Society of American Archivists Mosaic Program.

Dan Johnson, senior library specialist for M.D. Anderson Memorial Library’s Special Collections, is one of five Mosaic Program fellows. He will receive a scholarship that will help him complete his Master of Science in library science, specifically in archival studies and digital image management, at the University of North Texas, where he has been taking online courses since Fall 2011.

“I first found out in late October, and my initial reaction was that I can’t believe this is happening and didn’t think I had that strong of an opportunity for it, but my supervisor has been letting me know that ‘this is very much in line with what you are doing. It’ll pan out,’” Johnson said.

The ARL/SAA Mosaic Program awards minority and underrepresented students in the archival and special collections fields by providing funds to pay for their graduate studies.

“Scholarships like this provide an opportunity for underrepresented minorities to show up that can later, in a way, be a model for other students that maybe haven’t even considered going into that route. Growing up, I didn’t see many men in the libraries,” Johnson said.

“I also didn’t see a lot of Hispanics in libraries, but that is starting to change. You are starting to see more of that. Libraries are starting to cater to different languages and communities. This program gives young readers the idea that maybe they can do this in the future.”

Johnson, who has been a senior library specialist for three years, will start an internship in the fall for the UH Special Collections, supervised by archivist Mary Manning.

“As the Mosaic program coordinator, I look forward to identifying projects and working with Dan and Special Collections’ curators to develop an internship learning plan that will guide his experience,” Manning said in a UH Libraries blog post. “Dan will have the opportunity to organize, preserve and make available unique archival materials from University of Houston’s Special Collections and work with curators on projects that will allow him to experience the different aspects of the work that we do.”

Johnson, born in El Salvador and raised in northwest Houston, fell in love with comic books growing up. During a visit at the Michigan State University library, he realized his passion for Superman and Batman could become a part of his career.

“Five or six years ago, I happened to go to the special collections library at Michigan State University. They have a very large graphic novel collection and a large comics collection as a whole, and talking to the librarian there made me aware that perhaps that is something that I could do. … I think that is what really got me interested in going into library science school and seeing that there are careers like that available — that there’s universities that are starting to collect comics on a very large scale.”

Johnson said his goals are to add more comics to the Special Collections and general collection to the UH library, and said he believes that as more courses begin to use graphic novels, the demand for comics in the library will increase.

“Here at the library, we don’t have that many courses using graphic novels, and that, more or less, is the driving force to what we keep in the library. But as we see more and more people using graphic novels in their coursework, we need to support that as well, and I think one of the easiest ways to do that is for professors and students who see a lack in comics to request additional books,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s career goal is to move up the ladder in the Special Collections department and further add graphic novels and comics to the University library.

“I would like to get a position at a library like UH, hopefully working with graphic novels to some degree or another, possibly building up a collection or curating to building a collection to one that is already in place that needs to grow. For example, here at UH, we do have a graphic novels collection, but it is not a very large one — but there is one in place, and I would love the opportunity to build that up into a larger collection.”

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