Lara Carleton: Understanding the theory behind the method in archiving

By Calvi Leon

Lara's hometown: Wellesley, Ontario

Lara Carleton is from Wellesley, Ont., a town whose “claim to fame” is delicious apple cider and apple butter.


Lara Carleton was first introduced to the world of museums, archives and libraries at a young age.

While most of her friends were going on family trips to the Caribbean or Disneyland, her family went on road trips across Canada—or ‘Staycations,’ as she calls them. Along the way, they visited many local museums, big and small. “Slowly going to those places always interested me as a kid,” she says. “I didn’t understand, and I didn’t read all the signs. I just thought it was cool to look at other people’s things and learn from them.”

As Lara grew, so did her passion. Only now, her interest focuses specifically on archives.

Lara’s curiosity led her to make pivotal decisions in her academic career, from studying abroad in London, England, for a semester, to completing a BA in History and Geography at the University of Guelph, to landing her current job as an Archives Clerk in Archival and Special Collections at the university.

Her interest in archives culminated in a decision to enroll in the MLIS program at Western as a part-time student. Lara says she chose Western’s program because of its flexibility and professional focus that allows her to continue doing what she loves, both in work and academic settings. For Lara, the most rewarding part of MLIS is applying what she learns in her courses to what she’s doing at work and vice versa. In one of her mandatory MLIS courses, the material focused heavily on the different theoretical approaches to librarianship. Now, when Lara engages in conversation with work colleagues, she is able to easily make connections between specific scholars and theories that she previously did not know about.

"Even now in [my course] readings, I'm learning public libraries are like a catchall tray for communities. They do so much more than people give them credit for—myself included, even being in the field."

Moving forward, Lara hopes to use her degree to enhance her knowledge of archives further and explore related job opportunities. “I want to have a better understanding of how archives can support or collaborate with other levels of librarianship and the communities they serve.”

Fun Fact

In 2019, Lara and her sister attended a Spice Girls concert in Edinburgh. While in Europe, the two of them travelled to Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, and England. Lara says Denmark was her favourite—besides the concert of course.

When Lara is not completing coursework or digging through archives at work, she is busy learning sign language with Western’s ASL club, and planning online events for the program as a Social Activities Representative on the MLIS Student Council. On top of hosting study sessions and trivia night, Lara worked with the student council to organize BYOH (Bring Your Own Hobby), a fun opportunity for students to share what their go-to activity is during the pandemic.

Lara says that extracurriculars have been a fantastic way to meet new people within and beyond MLIS and to stay motivated while working from home. “Making those connections early on has definitely helped because I had people I could go to,” she says. “Finding a community online is important; I think for anyone, regardless of whether it’s a club or council.”

It is this community that allows Lara to get one step closer to completing her MLIS degree and pursuing her interest in further exploring archives.

Profiles in the Meet Our Students section are written by students in the Master of Media in Journalism & Communication program, who are enrolled in MMJC 9604 - Professional Writing.