This fall, Morgan Witte joined the Aquatic Sciences Center as a graduate project assistant, working primarily with the Wisconsin Water Library.
Hailing from Mount Horeb, Wis., Witte left her home state for a few years to earn a bachelor’s from Drake University in Iowa, majoring in environmental science (with a particular focus on hydrology and geology) and Spanish language and culture.
Now, Witte is back in the Dairy State, working on a master’s degree in library and information science from UW-Madison.
Anne Moser, senior special librarian for the Wisconsin Water Library, was a key factor in Witte’s decision to come to UW-Madison.
Said Witte, “I had planned on waiting until fall 2019 (to begin graduate school) and was just looking at schools and career options. I came in to chat with Anne about her job and asked about the potential to volunteer with her. She said there was actually an opportunity to gain work experience” as a graduate assistant. That prompted Witte to move up her timeline for library school.
It’s been serendipitous, said Moser. “Morgan came here with a set of skills that are so relevant to this position, and she’s fantastic. She’s got an incredibly organized mind and has already made great contributions here,” said the librarian.
One of Witte’s current projects involves a repository ofgroundwater reports on the Water Resources Institute website. She’s standardizing the format and making sure information is complete to optimize the reports’ usefulness and discoverability. She has also revived the Water Library’s blog, AquaLog.
Witte is also cataloguing audio files containing oral histories related to the book People of the Sturgeon, Wisconsin’s Love Affair with an Ancient Fish, written by former Wisconsin Sea Grant Education Specialist Kathleen Schmitt Kline, Sea Grant Aquaculture Specialist Fred Binkowski, and retired Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources biologist Ronald M. Bruch.
During her time with Sea Grant, Kline recorded about 70 oral histories. Witte is preparing them for inclusion in UW-Madison’s Digital Collections, where they will be available for anyone in the world to listen to.
Outside the walls of Goodnight Hall, Witte has embraced the library’s robust outreach mission. On her second day at work, she joined Moser at a kids’ storytime event at the Rosemary Garfoot Library in Cross Plains.
“It has surprised me how much community outreach is involved with this library, especially compared to many of the other academic libraries I’ve been to or worked at. I love that component of this library, the cross-section of academic and public awareness,” said Witte.
What does the future hold? After her expected graduation in 2020, Witte wants to stay in the world of academic libraries, focusing on STEM fields and research data services.
Of course, it’s virtually required to have a favorite body of water when working at the Aquatic Sciences Center. When asked about her favorite Great Lake, Witte named Lake Superior without hesitation. “My family used to go to Bayfield when I was young, and we went to the Apostle Islands a few times, too, so it’s the one I associate with being the most fun.”
Add in a grandmother who owns a cottage on Lake Wisconsin, and family time spent at Lake Tomahawk in north-central Wisconsin, and Witte’s affinity for water and the Upper Midwest is clear. “I’ve been lucky to grow up on the water a lot.”