A Great Online Student Conference

I’m the chair of the RSCA Advisory Committee at the College of Professional and Global Education (CPGE) at SJSU. RSCA stands for Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity. The college held its first Online Student Conference in spring 2022, and our committee served as faculty advisors for this conference. The conference seeks to connect students across the college and promote student work. It aims to provide an opportunity for CPGE students to share their school or professional work, help students communicate and connect with each other, and ultimately foster a stronger sense of community among students.

A total of 16 students submitted recorded presentations to be featured on the conference website. Their presentations covered a wide range of topics ranging from diversity/inclusion to sustainability. Five students did such an excellent job in their presentations that they won the conference’s Outstanding Presentation Award. Let’s take a look at the five award-winning student presentations. 

Ashley Minnich’s presentation, ”Mental, Physical, and Social Benefits of Dance: A Client Project“, described a client project where the information request was for scientific and peer-reviewed scholarly literature published within the last 20 years about the mental, physical, and social benefits of dance for the organization to use in future marketing materials. The project was executed by conducting a reference interview with the client, evaluating potential databases for topic relevancy, developing a search strategy and evaluating results, presenting results to the client concisely for their evaluation, and mutually concluding that the information need was met.

Beatriz Martinez delivered a presentation titled “Garden Focus Library Programming: A Green Team Project“. This project emerged from SJSU iSchool’s INFO 282 Libraries Take the Lead on Sustainability. Beatriz worked on a library programming group project. The group developed a garden focused library program that comprises many different forms of activities and events aiming to promote sustainable gardening to all patron demographics.

Rosario Mireles’s presentation, “Generations of Regeneration“, was about a project also resulting from INFO 282 Libraries Take the Lead on Sustainability. This project proposed an action plan targeting community members of all ages (children to grandparents) and addressing the Three Pillars of Sustainability (Environment, Equity, Economic) through regular presentations and interactive workshops at a hypothetical library’s teaching garden. 

Katherine Hellman’s presentation, “Weeding is Fundamental! What Comes After Weeding?“, was once again an assignment from INFO 282 Libraries Take the Lead on Sustainability. This project assessed the environmental impact of weeding materials from library collections and offered three sustainable alternatives to sending books and periodicals to landfills.

Carlos Quevedo delivered a presentation titled “Emerging Needs in the Field of Video Game Preservation“. In this presentation, Carlos shared his experience doing research on Digital Media Preservation as it pertains to Video Games through his internship at AFI as well as his role as a Research Assistant to iSchool Professor Darra Hofman. His work enabled him to foresee the future work that needs to be done in order to make the preservation of Video Games a more fruitful endeavor in the future.

In addition to these award winning presentations, other student presentations at the CPGE Online Student Conference also represented the wonderful work our students have done. Congratulations to all the students who presented at the conference and shared their amazing work with the college community and beyond.

2014 IFLA

Last week I went to IFLA for the satellite meeting on information ethics, and the offsite summit on library education. It was a great trip – particularly at the satellite meeting, I met researchers and practitioners from all over the world and had engaging discussions with them about ethical issues in libraries. My own presentation at the meeting was about the ethical dilemmas reference librarians encounter at work. Reference librarians are at the forefront of libraries’ public service. It is imperative for them to maintain the highest possible standards of diligence and ethical conduct under time restraints that often require compromise. In my teaching of reference and information services, ethics is a critical topic. However, I haven’t been able to find any good readings on this topic, so I decided to conduct a survey study to explore how reference librarians handle ethical dilemmas at work, write a paper about it, and then use it for my reference class. The findings were very illuminating – I shared them in a 20-min presentation, and then a 40-min discussion ensued among the audience. This format of presentation was quite unique – it’s more like a seminar, and the presentation is to set the tone for an in-depth discussion on the topic, which actually worked quite well for me and gave me a lot to think about. One of the researchers I met there suggested that everybody studying ethics should study philosophy first, and he himself is currently getting a master’s degree in philosophy – how amazing!

The summit on library education was organized by the IFLA Section on Education and Training. We had a good turnout, and I was one of the eight presenters in the Ignite session about the future of LIS education. It was a little stressful to do an Ignite presentation for the first time. In my five minutes, I told a futuristic story of how a 23-year old girl named Alice, interested in digital knowledge management in the farming industry, receives her education in LIS in 2050. It went actually pretty well – thanks to the power of storytelling! The summit gathered LIS educators from different countries. It’s eye-opening to hear them talk about what LIS education is like in the middle east, Africa, south America, east Asia and other regions. I also met two people from North Korea – they were both wearing pins of Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un. I tried to talk to them but they basically ignored me. I wonder how libraries work and how LIS education is provided in North Korea. Hmm…..

Well, as always, IFLA was a great conference to attend, despite sitting next to a 10-month old sick baby for 9 hours and getting vomited on twice on my way home. Oh well. The fall semester starts today, and I’d better get ready for the hecticness.

QQML 2014

I just got back from the 6th QQML conference in Istanbul. As always, it’s a fruitful trip. What I particularly liked this year was Cornell University Librarian Anne Kenney’s keynote talk “Defining 21st Century Research Libraries to Implementing 21st Century Research Universities”, where she talked about the paradigm shift among academic libraries that are focusing less on measuring what libraries are doing and more on developing metrics that measure how well they are enabling research universities to thrive in the 21st century. Her talk gave me a lot to think about, particularly for the research methods course I intend to develop that focuses on academic librarianship.

I also enjoyed the LibQUAL-related presentations at the conference, which not only included presentations sharing results of LibQUAL surveys in libraries in different countries, but also one interesting presentation that described translating LibQUAL in other languages ( the historical context, the functionality of the current web interface in handling different languages and a reliability and validity analysis for selected language versions). LibQUAL is a great example of conducting survey research in LIS, and in the fall I will be teaching a course about survey research. So these presentations were timely and beneficial.

During the conference I spent quite a bit of time talking to a group of scholars from Taiwan. Two of them got their master’s in LIS and PhD in education. Their students are school teachers, and they are developing information literacy standards and instruction strategies at K-12 level. In Taiwan, teachers are responsible for information literacy instruction in addition to subject teaching, and now the increasing workload has made it necessary to have special teacher positions that exclusively focus on information literacy. This is quite different from the US, there the trend is reversed and school librarian positions are getting cut everywhere because of budget problems. Another Taiwanese Professor comes from National Chengchi University and they have the only online LIS master’s program in Taiwan. We talked a lot about online education and I invited her to share the experience of their online program at the Library 2.014 conference. It’s always nice to learn about online education from the international perspective.

Finally, another highlight of this conference was seeing my old friends Songphan and Cristina. I saw them last year in Rome but didn’t get to talk much because of our different schedules. It’s just wonderful to see them again and catch up with them.

Doing an Ignite presentation

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I will be going to IFLA in August and attending the summit organized by the Section on Education and Training (SET). The theme of the summit is “Library and information education and training: Confluence of past and present toward a strong future”, and at the summit a series of Ignite presentations will be given. I’m one of the presenters, and my Ignite presentation will focus on my vision of LIS education in 2015, which I talked about in one previous post.

Using the Ignite talk format, speakers present a topic using 20 slides that advance automatically every 15 seconds. According to Wikipedia, “Ignite is the name for a particular type of event that is held throughout the world—organized by volunteers—at which participants speak about their ideas and personal or professional passions according to a specific format. The event holds the motto, “Enlighten us, but make it quick!” Anyone can throw an Ignite event. The presentations are meant to “ignite” the audience on a subject, whereby awareness, thought, and action are generated on the subjects presented.” As I was preparing for my presentation, I found this Ignite talk about successfully giving an Ignite talk, which really helped an Ignite newbie like me better understand the process.

One of the things that make me feel a bit nervous about the Ignite format is the fact that the slides are auto-advanced. This means presenters will have to time the presentation really well in order not to go off the slide. This is different from all the other presentations I have done before, for which I have full control of the advancement of slides. Looks like for the Ignite presentation, I will need to create a script and practice it several times to create a seamless match between my talk and the slides.

Though a bit nervous, I do look forward to it. I think this could be an interesting format our PhD students may use to share their research with us during the residencies. If one can “ignite” the audience on the topic of his/her thesis research in a five-min talk, he/she is either a grand master of public speaking, or is truly onto something groundbreaking.

A peek into the future of LIS education

Reference and Information Services is one of the courses I teach regularly. At the end of the course, we always have a discussion about the future of reference. Although most of my students are pretty optimistic about it – they think reference service will be transforming itself to meet the evolving needs of library users and will continue be a core component of library public service, there’s always one or two that would rather bet on the demise of reference. I love having this discussion with my students and nudge them to do some futuristic thinking so they can be more prepared for this increasingly dynamic profession.

I recently stumbled upon a blog authored by a senior librarian at National University of Singapore (Musings about Librarianship), and in one of his posts, he gathered eight articles about the future of libraries and shared his reflections on them. As an educator, this blog post made me think a lot about library and information science (LIS) education in the future. In order to figure that out, we first need to understand what future information professionals will be like. A couple of years ago, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill organized a summit titled “Information Professions 2050”, and a wide array of interesting ideas was discussed. To me, “fluidity” will be a keyword in information professions in 2050. Information processing/organization/management/presentation will be an integral component of business operations. While there may be well defined roles, we will see more and more information-related positions created based on the specific needs of a business. Therefore, my idea for LIS education in 2050 is the capability to personalize and customize one’s education. In his book “Life in 2050”, Ulrich Eberl envisions that people will live in “smart apartments” that can recognize weather and even a person’s face. Given the wide spread of highly intelligent technologies then, apartment is merely one of the many aspects of our life that’s “smart”. Higher education will be “smart” too, highlighted by students’ capability to design their own learning experience and career choices. I think personalization and customization will be two leading forces of LIS education forty years later.

It’s fun to do some futuristic thinking, and we will see whether my crystal ball is precise if I’m still alive by then.

A challenge of interdisciplinary research

Last year I presented a paper at the IFLA satellite meeting “Global Collaboration among Information Professionals”. My paper was about iSchool faculty’s interdisciplinary engagement in teaching and research. You can read more about my IFLA trip here. In this paper, I did two-stage study to examine iSchool’s interdisciplinary approach in education and research via the lens of iSchool faculty members’ background and experiences. At the first stage, a content analysis of faculty online profiles was conducted to examine faculty members’ rank, PhD field, teaching and research descriptions. At the second stage, a survey study was conducted to investigate faculty’s interdisciplinary experiences in teaching and research.

After I came back from the trip, the editor of LIBRES invited me to publish my paper in his journal. In the process of preparing the manuscript for publication, I read many articles about interdisciplinarity that were written by researchers and educators in other fields. They all seemed to share one of the findings in my own study – it is difficult to publish interdisciplinary research, and it’s challenging to identify the appropriate publishing venues. Now, it’s not just something I found in my study – it has become a reality for me.

Last year, my colleague Van from the Department of Health Science and worked on an interdisciplinary study that elicits input from health care professionals regarding how librarians can better help the public with their health information needs. In the summer, we finished the study and completed the manuscript. Then, we started the long journey to get it published. So far, we got rejected by every health science journal/conference we submitted it to because they didn’t think it fit their scope/focus. We have exhausted all the possible publishing venues in health sciences and failed, and now we will turn to journals in library and information science and see if we will have better luck.

Apparently, as interdisciplinary research becomes more and more popular, this is something that needs to be addressed. In the upcoming iConference in Berlin, there’s going to be a workshop on interdisciplinarity in information science. Hopefully they will cover this topic about publishing interdisciplinary research.

2013 IFLA

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Last week I went to Singapore to attend an IFLA satellite meeting, titled “Global Collaboration among Information Professionals”, where I presented my paper about iSchool faculty’s interdisciplinary engagement in teaching and research. It was a great meeting hosted by Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Thirteen papers were presented at the meeting, and I was particularly interested in the ones about a particular LIS school’s effort in collaboration:

1. Shigeo Sugimoto (dean of the LIS school in University of Tsukuba, Japan) gave a talk about CiSAP, which stands for the Consortium of iSchools in Asia-Pacific. CiSAP is like a regional iSchool caucus, except that their schools don’t necessarily meet the iSchool criteria. There is no membership fee, and any LIS school in the Asia-Pacific region can join if they have five or more full time equivalent academic staff members. CiSAP was formed in 2008, and they host an annual meeting every year.

 2. Rae-Anne Montague from Illinois at Urbana-Champaign gave a talk about their schools’s recent efforts to advance international collaborations in teaching, research and service. She also highlighted the lessons learned in establishing and cultivating fruitful international collaborations.

 3. Wooseob Jeong (interim dean at UW Milwaukee) gave a talk about their school’s international collaborations, such as the 1+1, 2+2 degree programs, summer internship programs, study abroad programs, and other active student recruitment efforts. He also talked about the challenges based on their experience with international collaboration.

4. Caroline  Haythornthwaite (dean at British Columbia) gave a talk that outlined the aims and experiences at their school in joining the iSchool caucus.

5. Tom Denison from Monash University gave a talk about how they developed the masters of Information and Knolwedge Management degree at their school, and how it is informing further community engagement, collaboration, and innovation in curriculum development and delivery.

6. Gayner Erye from Aberystwyth University in UK gave a talk about the development of “Pathways to Information Leadership”, which is a professional development program to appeal to information managers in all sectors globally, by combining coverage of traditional library areas of expertise with courses covering subjects such as information governance, information strategy, risk management and information law and ethics. This program is completely online.

Among them, #4, #5 and #6 were most insightful – they gave me much to think about regarding the direction of the LIS field and the kind of education we should provide for future information professionals. As the number of jobs in the traditional library setting is decreasing, we need to seriously broaden our purview of what it means/takes to be an information professional in this day and age. I think we have to go through some sort of transformation to redefine the roles of LIS schools in preparing talents to meet the evolving needs of the society. Much is to be done, and it would be great if we could have more meetings like the IFLA satellite meeting in the future to exchange ideas and have a discussion about this important topic.