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School of Information Sciences - University of Illinois


Get to know Julie Cwik (MS '14), CME accreditation & certification manager

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:23:42 +0000

(image) Julie Cwik uses the skills she learned at the iSchool in her job at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI). She enjoys working in the continuing medical education (CME) field and supporting physicians. Her interest in instructional design has led her to pursue an advanced degree in learning design and technology.

Where do you work and what is your role?

As CME accreditation & certification manager at ACAAI, I ensure that all of our CME activities are compliant with the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) Criteria and Standards for Commercial Support. While I do not play the role of a traditional librarian, I am working in an instructional design capacity, which is a growing area for librarians to move into. My success at the iSchool has given me the confidence to go for another master's, this one in learning design and technology. In order to help pay for this second degree, I am currently looking for a part-time job in my local library. If you have to have a second job, being in your "happy place" is a must. 

What do you like best about your job?

I like engaging with the physicians and sharing my knowledge of educational theory and practice. My mission is to help them appreciate the steps necessary to create an effective educational intervention (no easy feat). With the future part-time job, I am looking to satisfy my need to engage with a wider audience and provide more one-on-one assistance. There is nothing more rewarding than the "thank you" you receive after providing high-quality customer service.

How did the iSchool help you get to where you are today?

Library school gave me: (1) access to some of the greatest people I've ever met in life—they are great friends, great resources, and always willing to help me get to the next level in my career; (2) access to top-notch faculty who brought a variety of perspectives to the various aspects of librarianship and pushed me to challenge myself and grow; and (3) the skills I needed to succeed, such as how to do an effective keyword search, conduct a reference interview, and ensure copyright compliance.  I use these skills on a daily basis in the world of CME, especially knowing how to determine customers' needs and how you can best help them. This has been invaluable in my work with physicians.

What advice would you like to share with iSchool students?

Stay strong and keep going! Find a mentor—who can help you stay strong and keep going. Dr. John MacMullen's unending support and confidence in my abilities is what made it possible for me to graduate. Also, do the reading! It may seem like a lot, but honestly, it is all relevant, and you actually will use what you read in your future library career. 

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Reading (that's an obvious one), learning (whether it be formal or informal education), and fishing (surf perching, kayak fishing, or float tube fishing). All of these things bring peace and sanity to my life.

Hoiem to present research at ChLA 2017

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 15:25:23 +0000

Assistant Professor Elizabeth Hoiem will present her research on the representation of slavery in children's nonfiction books at the Children's Literature Association conference (ChLA 2017), which will be held on June 22-24 in Tampa, Florida. The theme of the conference, "Imagined Futures," explores the many possible futures to be found in, through, and for children's literature.

Hoiem will give the talk, "The Politics of How Things Are Made: Representations of Slavery and Violence in Children’s Histories of Technology," during a session titled, "Borders and Frontiers: Explorations of the Past." According to Hoiem, production stories—a genre that includes Amelia Alderson Opie's abolitionist chapbook, The Progress of Sugar (1826); David Macaulay's Cathedral (1973); Laban Carrick Hill and Bryan Collier's Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave (2010); and Discovery Channel’s How It's Made—have always been deeply political. 

"My paper analyzes examples of children's production narratives from 1750 to the present, showing how books in this genre can idealize industrial standardization in order to elide ethical questions posed by labor conditions or celebrate technological progress at the expense of human actors. Ignoring slavery or social inequality is not inherent to the genre. Rather, the formal elements of production narratives require writers and illustrators to make inherently political choices about whether to include, alongside a technological narrative, the social narrative of who makes things, under what conditions, and for whom," she said.

Hoiem teaches in the areas of reading and literacy, history of children's literature, and fantasy literature. In her research and teaching, she explores the history of technological innovations in children's literature—from early children's books and toys to contemporary applications of digital pedagogy—and looks at modern technology through a historical lens. Her research interests also include digital humanities. This paper evolved from her current book project on the class politics behind representations of work and play in children's literature of the industrial era. Hoiem holds a PhD in English from Illinois. 

Schneider to present research at ECA Fribourg 2017

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 16:12:43 +0000

Assistant Professor Jodi Schneider will discuss her study of biomedical research reports at the 2nd European Conference on Argumentation, ECA Fribourg 2017, on June 20-23 in Fribourg, Switzerland. The theme of the conference is "Argumentation and Inference." She will also speak at the preconference, "Status, Relevance, and Authority of Facts."
Schneider and Sally Jackson, professor of communication at Illinois, are organizing "Innovations in Reasoning and Arguing about Health," a panel that will examine how the complex set of inference practices in the health care profession is changing as people discover better ways to arrive at conclusions about health.

"Inference, or steps in reasoning, is an important part of studying how we make decisions on any topic," said Schneider. "Everyone wants sound reasoning about health—patients, health care providers, public health institutions, medical researchers, regulators, etc."

Schneider will present "Rhetorical moves and audience considerations in the discussion sections of Randomized Controlled Trials of health interventions," which will cover research she has conducted with Graciela Rosemblat and Halil Kilicoglu at the U.S. National Library of Medicine and Shabnam Tafreshi at George Washington University.

Abstract: Clinicians and medical researchers are taught to consider Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) as one of the strongest forms of medical evidence. We will document and classify rhetorical moves in the discussion sections of 37 RCT reports about health interventions. We will use these moves in order to determine which higher-level argumentative goals and audiences seem salient in RCT discussion sections. Our results could be used in teaching authors to write effective RCT reports, to reach their intended audiences, and in the future, for automation such as argumentation mining.

According to Schneider, "Our natural, human tendency is to see cause and effect everywhere and to make up stories about why things happen. RCTs blind not just the patient but also the health care practitioner regarding the treatment in order to prevent this. Since RCTs are widely used, making them more readable and relevant to various audiences is important. They help determine the best, most effective medical treatments."

In addition to Schneider's talk, the panel will include presentations that address how health care practitioners can engage patients in making better, more collaborative plans for their own care and how advertisers design ads for over-the-counter drugs in order to show the medication is safe and effective. 

Schneider studies scholarly communication and social media through the lens of arguments, evidence, and persuasion. She is developing linked data (ontologies, metadata, Semantic Web) approaches to manage scientific evidence. She holds a PhD in informatics from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Prior to joining the iSchool in 2016, Schneider served as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Pittsburgh and INRIA, the national French Computer Science Research Institute. She recently received an XSEDE start-up award for her research in biomedical informatics.

Knox edits book on trigger warnings

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 12:56:15 +0000

In Assistant Professor Emily Knox's information policy course (IS 590IP), one of the assignments involves reading about workers in developing countries whose job is to censor objectionable photos posted on social media. The article includes graphic descriptions of some of the photos. Is a trigger warning warranted before assigning the reading to the class?

The use of trigger warnings in college and university classrooms has been a subject of heated debate in recent years. The question of whether an instructor should alert his or her students to the fact that a piece of material they will be reading or viewing in class could be potentially distressing is complex.

Knox takes a comprehensive look at trigger warnings in her edited book, Trigger Warnings: History, Theory, Context, which was recently published by Rowman & Littlefield. The book provides the historical context and theory behind trigger warnings as well as case studies from instructors and students describing when trigger warnings were and were not used.

"Trigger Warnings is a nuanced look at the background and practice of the hot academic intellectual freedom topic of the day," said James LaRue (MS '81), director of the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom. "The contributors don't always agree with each other, but they do provide a thoughtful introduction to the concerns—and the classroom reality—of a shift to a more student-centered and consciously inclusive educational style."
(image) "Controversies over trigger warnings have been percolating in academia for quite some time, but there has not been a comprehensive, scholarly overview of their history and use in the classroom," explained Knox. "My goal was to present a wide range of analyses and cases studies in the book, and my research in intellectual freedom and contemporary reading practices helped me approach the topic with a nuanced point of view. Ultimately I believe that trigger warnings are about relationships, and I do give a 'heads up' before the Wired article mentioned above because I think it is a good practice and helps to maintain a caring and respectful classroom atmosphere with my students."

Knox joined the iSchool faculty in 2012. Her research interests include intellectual freedom and censorship, the intersection of print culture and reading practices, and information ethics and policy. Her book, Book Banning in 21st-Century America, which addresses challenges to materials in public libraries and schools, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2015. In 2016 she was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Knox received her PhD from the doctoral program at the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information, and she earned her master's in library and information science from the iSchool at Illinois.

Twidale to discuss metrics incentives, openness at AOASG Webinar Series

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 22:30:50 +0000

Professor Michael Twidale and David M. Nichols, University of Waikato (New Zealand), will present “Measuring what matters: metrics incentives and openness,” on June 20th as part of the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG) Webinar Series 2017:

As researchers wanting to advocate for open access, we decided to explore openness from the perspective of designing metrics. Doing this made us realize that metric design is a sociotechnical problem, involving considerations of what is easy to count, what is important to count—and what to do when these are different.

Nichols and Twidale will share insights from their paper Metrics for Openness, which was published this year in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. These insights include proposed metrics to describe different facets of open access and open research, including measures to represent the public availability of articles along with their archival location, licenses, access costs, and supporting information.

Twidale is an expert in computer-supported cooperative work, collaborative technologies in digital libraries and museums, user interface design and evaluation, information visualization, and museum informatics. He is program director for the iSchool’s Master of Science in information management (MS/IM) and holds joint appointments at Illinois in the Department of Computer Science, Information Trust Institute, and Academy of Entrepreneurial Leadership. He earned his PhD in computing from Lancaster University.

Join us at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 14:20:17 +0000

The American Library Association (ALA) will hold its 2017 Annual Conference and Exhibition in Chicago on June 22-27. The theme of the conference is "Transforming Our Libraries, Ourselves." Visit with the iSchool at Booth #4742 in the Exhibit Hall from June 23-26. For a complimentary pass, contact the ischool-advancement [at] (iSchool Advancement Office). Passes are offered to alumni, current students, prospective students, and their guests. Please note that this is an exhibits-only pass; it will not allow access to any of the workshops or conference sessions. Alumni and students are invited to attend the Alumni Reception and LSAA Annual Meeting on Sunday, June 25, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Petterino's. The evening's program will include a special celebration of Professor Linda C. Smith's 40th year at the School of Information Sciences.   The School also will host a reception/happy hour for recent alumni on Saturday, June 24, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse River North. Please join iSchool faculty and staff at the following presentations and events: Adjunct Lecturer Nicole Wedemeyer Miller will present "The Genealogy Reference Interview" at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, June 23, during the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) Genealogy Preconference. Recent graduates Flannery Crump and Abigail Falck (both MS '17) will present their poster, "How Do People Use Little Free Libraries?" as part of the Collections session at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 24. Spotlight on Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation with adapter Damian Duffy and illustrator John Jennings will feature Adjunct Lecturer Damian Duffy (MS '08, PhD '16). It will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 24. Assistant Professor Jana Diesner, PhD program director, and incoming doctoral student Lettycia Terrones will participate in Leaders Wanted: Doctoral Options Fair from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 24, to showcase the iSchool's PhD program, the student experience, and funding opportunities to diverse and promising ALA conference attendees. The event is sponsored by the ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services.  Linda C. Smith (MS '72), professor and associate dean for academic programs, will preside at Beta Phi Mu's Annual Business Meeting and Member Reception as the current president of Beta Phi Mu at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 24. Assistant Professor Nicole A. Cooke, MS/LIS program director, will be honored with the ALA Achievement in Library Diversity Research Award during the Diversity and Outreach Fair at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday, June 24. Cooke also will serve as a panelist for the program, “Our Voices: Strengthen Your Collection with Diverse Narratives,” at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 24, and as a speaker for the program, “Libraries Are Not Neutral Spaces: Social Justice Advocacy in Librarianship,” at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 25. Associate Professor Terry Weech will be a speaker at the International Relations Round Table (IRRT) Chair's Program, "Acting for Humanity: The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Libraries," at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 25. Affiliated faculty member Lisa Hinchliffe (MS '94), professor/coordinator for information literacy services and instruction at the University Library and editor of Library Trends, will receive the inaugural Larry Romans Mentorship Award at the Stonewall Book Awards Program at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, June 26. [...]

iSchool to present research at JCDL 2017

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 18:03:06 +0000

iSchool faculty, staff, and students will present their research at the Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL), which will be held on June 19-23 in Toronto. The event brings together international scholars focusing on digital libraries and associated technical, practical, organizational, and social issues. The goal is to provide a forum for shared learning and facilitate the application of knowledge for research, development, construction, and utilization in digital libraries.

Papers to be presented at JCDL 2017 include:

  • "Information-Seeking in Large Scale Digital Libraries: Strategies for Scholarly Workset Creation"
    Authors include J. Stephen Downie, professor and associate dean for research, and Peter Organisciak (PhD '15), postdoctoral research associate
  • "Uncertainty about the Long-Term: Digital Libraries, Astronomy Data, and Open Source Software"
    Authors include Assistant Professor Peter Darch
  • "Towards Publishing Secure Capsule-Based Analysis"
    Authors include doctoral candidate Jacob Jett, Professor J. Stephen Downie, and faculty affiliate Timothy W. Cole 

In addition, doctoral candidate Jacob Jett will present his poster, "Linked Open Data (LOD) for Library Special Collections."

Ten iSchool students named 2017-2018 ALA Spectrum Scholars

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 13:47:59 +0000

Ten master’s students have been named 2017-2018 Spectrum Scholars by the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services. Established in 1997, the Spectrum Scholarship Program promotes diversity among graduate-level students pursuing degrees in library and information studies through ALA-accredited programs. This year, the program received three times as many applications as there were available scholarships.

“Our School is very proud to be the lead recipient of ALA Spectrum Scholars. This is a collective effort, and I hope to build from this success for many years to come—in terms of recruiting as well as providing a supportive and affirming environment for students of color,” said Moises Orozco Villicana, director of enrollment management. “The most impressive aspect of ALA Spectrum recipients is their high persistence and degree completion rate.”

The Spectrum Scholarship recipients at Illinois are:

  • Marcus A. Berry
  • Darnetta Bolton
  • Christina D. Bush
  • Sharon Han
  • Kristin Lansdown
  • Carli V. Lowe
  • Van McGary
  • Siobhan A. McKissic
  • Joan J. Parker
  • Aldo Vasquez

“We are so excited to welcome this cohort of Spectrum Scholars to the iSchool! The Spectrum Scholarship Program is so important to the profession, and we’re grateful to be able to play a role in launching these new professionals into the field,” said Nicole A. Cooke, program director for the Master of Science in library and information science.

Each scholar receives $5,000 to assist with educational costs as well as more than $1,500 to attend the Spectrum Leadership Institute held during the ALA Annual Conference. In addition, the iSchool matches this diversity scholarship by providing each recipient with a tuition waiver. Illinois residents receive a grant from the Sylvia Murphy Williams Fund, given by the Illinois Library Association. Other benefits include continuing education and professional development opportunities, peer mentoring, and access to a large alumni network.

Petersheim receives the IEEE Continuing Education Stipend from SLA

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 15:56:15 +0000

(image) Kristin Petersheim (MS '15) was awarded the IEEE Continuing Education Stipend from the Engineering Division of the SLA. She will use the award to attend the SLA 2017 Annual Conference, which will take place from June 16-20 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Petersheim has worked as associate technical information specialist in the Caterpillar Technical Information Center since 2015, where she also serves as document delivery and acquisitions librarian and outreach and instruction librarian.

Her first experience working in a library happened by chance while she was living in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, where she volunteered in a seminary library. She caught the service-oriented spirit of the profession while helping master's and doctoral students develop search skills. She also volunteered part time for the Pietermaritzburg Association for Community Social Action, which was working to archive Apartheid-era social rights documents in cooperation with the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Together these experiences confirmed for Petersheim the importance of the information profession and led to her decision to pursue a career in library science.

While she was a master's student at Illinois, Petersheim held two graduate assistant positions in special libraries: managing budgets and statistical reporting at the Illinois Fire Service Institute Library and working as the sole librarian at the Asian Educational Media Service. In addition, she was appointed the first research coordinator for the Business Intelligence Group—a research group that simulates an information consultancy—and led a team of ten MS/LIS students in completing more than thirty consulting projects over the course of a semester. Petersheim’s efforts earned her the iSchool's 2015 Alumni Association Student Award.

In conjunction with faculty librarians at Purdue University, Petersheim is currently conducting a survey with her peers at Caterpillar to better understand the information usage habits of engineers. She also is working to execute a visiting librarian program, so that Technical Information Center librarians can be more accessible to engineers in various Caterpillar locations. Earlier this year, she implemented a system to create custom research guides and content for library users.

"I'm grateful for my experiences with faculty and peers at the iSchool because I not only learned the skills necessary for my current role, but also how to advocate the value of those skills within my company," Petersheim said.

Nominations invited for annual Downs Intellectual Freedom Award

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 13:44:05 +0000

The iSchool at Illinois seeks nominations for the Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award. The deadline for nominations is October 1, 2017.

Given annually, the award acknowledges individuals or groups who have furthered the cause of intellectual freedom, particularly as it impacts libraries and information centers and the dissemination of ideas. Granted to those who have resisted censorship or efforts to abridge the freedom of individuals to read or view materials of their choice, the award may be in recognition of a particular action or a long-term interest in and dedication to the cause of intellectual freedom.

The Downs Award was established in 1969 by the iSchool's faculty to honor Dean Emeritus Robert B. Downs, a champion of intellectual freedom, on the occasion of his twenty-fifth anniversary as director of the School.

Previous winners have included Wendy Campbell (2016) for her work in increasing cultural awareness in her community; HP Kids Read (2015) for its work in support of freedom to read at the Highland Park (TX) High School; the staff and board of trustees of the Orland Park (IL) Public Library (2014) for the defense of their policy to not filter adult Internet access in the library; DaNae Leu (2013) for her efforts to keep a controversial picture book on the shelves of her elementary school library; and Librotraficante (2012) for its efforts to oppose the censorship of ethnic and cultural studies materials in Arizona.

Libraries Unlimited, an imprint of ABC-CLIO Publishing Company, provides an honorarium to the Downs Award recipient and co-hosts the reception held in honor of the recipient. The reception and award ceremony for the 2017 Downs Intellectual Freedom Award will take place in February 2018 during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

Letters of nomination and documentation about the nominee should be sent by October 1, 2017, to Associate Professor Terry Weech, either by email at weech [at] with a copy to ischool-dean [at], or in paper form to:

Associate Professor Terry Weech
School of Information Sciences
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
501 East Daniel Street
Champaign, IL 61820

Please email any questions to Associate Professor Terry Weech.

iSchool partners with BIT on data-driven scholarship workshop

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 13:06:13 +0000

The iSchool is co-organizing a workshop on digital scholarship with Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) Library on June 14-16 in Beijing. The workshop, Digital Scholarship Centers: Building Library Services for Data-Driven Scholarship, will instruct participants in library service models for digital scholarship and discuss concepts in digital humanities and computational social science. Dean Allen Renear will give opening remarks. Other iSchool presenters include J. Stephen Downie, professor and codirector of the HathiTrust Research Center (HTRC); Peter Organisciak (PhD '15), postdoctoral research associate; Eleanor Dickson, visiting HTRC digital humanities specialist; and Nic Weber (PhD '15), assistant professor at the University of Washington.

Downie will give the talks:

  • "Text Mining Concepts and Methods: HTRC and Non-Consumptive Research"
  • "Quick and Painless Introduction to Machine Learning"
  • "WEKA Machine Learning Tools: A Friendly Interactive Exploration"

Organisciak will present:

  • "Digital Humanities: The Landscape"
  • "Text Analysis with the HTRC Extracted Features"
  • ":Visualization: An Introduction"
  • "Visualizing Data with Voyant and HathiTrust+Bookworm"

Dickson's presentations include:

  • "Digital Scholarship Centers in Libraries"
  • "Data Discovery and Use"
  • "Spatial Humanities: Mapping and GIS"

Weber will give the talks:

  • "Data Publishing and Open Data"
  • "Visualizing Data with Tableau"

Tilley gives keynote addresses on comics

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 12:58:16 +0000

Carol Tilley will be a keynote speaker for the NASIG 32nd Annual Conference, which will be held June 8-11 in Indianapolis. An independent association of librarians and academic publishing professionals, NASIG promotes communication, information, and continuing education about scholarly communications, serials, and electronic resources. Her talk, "The Secret Life of Comics: Socializing and Seriality," will provide an overview of the past, present, and future of comics in libraries, giving special emphasis to the role of readers and fandom in making comics a relevant and exciting medium to collect and preserve. 

Tilley also gave the keynote address for Monstrous Women in Comics: An Interdisciplinary Conference on Women in Comics and Graphic Novels, which took place May 25-27 at the University of North Texas. Her talk, "A Regressive Formula of Perversity: Fredric Wertham and the Monstrous Women of Comics," was a close reading of psychiatrist Wertham's descriptions and critiques of female comics characters in his 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent. She shared new insights into his understanding of homosexuality and the ideas he drew from informants such as folklorist Gershon Legman and psychiatrist Hilde Mosse.

At the iSchool, Tilley teaches courses in comics reader's advisory, media literacy, and youth services librarianship. Part of her scholarship focuses on the intersection of young people, comics, and libraries, particularly in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. Her research has been published in journals including the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), Information & Culture: A Journal of History, and Children’s Literature in Education. Her research on anti-comics advocate Frederic Wertham has been featured in The New York Times and other media outlets. An in-demand speaker on the history of comics readership and libraries, Tilley was a 2016 Will Eisner Comics Industry Awards judge and currently serves as vice-president/president-elect of the Comics Studies Society.

Leep student and librarian Vivian Alvarez brings tabletop gaming to the library

Fri, 02 Jun 2017 13:45:18 +0000

(image) MS student Vivian Alvarez works with tweens and teens at the Rudy Lozano Branch of the Chicago Public Library, which is located in the Mexican-American community of Pilsen. As part of her job, she develops programming for youth that nurtures learning and strengthens communities.

A tabletop gaming enthusiast, Alvarez started a tabletop gaming program for students at the Lozano Branch. A paper she wrote on the subject, "Engaging Students in the Library through Tabletop Gaming," was featured in the March-April issue of Knowledge Quest, the journal of the American Association of School Librarians. In her paper, Alvarez discusses how tabletop games serve as educational tools, teaching students important personal and interpersonal skills they need for college and career success. 

"The community I work with has an appreciation for college degrees, and parents and students are interested in the skills required to set academic and career goals,” she explained. “Many students have expressed 'relying on luck' to land the right job. I first introduced card games that were roughly 30 minutes long, such as Exploding Kittens and Dix It, to teach new concepts. Then I introduced games that rely on strategy and collaboration as well as some element of luck. Ultimately, the overarching goal was to stress that luck is only a fraction of the overall factors that define success in games and in life." 

Alvarez has several favorite analog games, including Splendor, Dominion, Mansions of Madness, Superfight, Agricola, and Pathfinder. When playing with her family, she enjoys collaborative games such as Time Stories and Pandemic. Alvarez noted, "Without a hands-on introduction at the library, students would probably walk past the tabletop gaming aisle at their local retailers unaware of the delight enclosed in each box."
Over the course of her thirteen years in the nonprofit sector, Alvarez has worked with youth from diverse age groups and socioeconomic backgrounds as well as young adults with mental disabilities. Early in her career, she worked on community leadership initiatives with faculty and staff at DePaul University.

"DePaul initiated a unique project in 2012 involving creative programming for Chicago youth at public libraries. That is how I was introduced to libraries and their love for strengthening communities from within," she said.     

After earning her master's degree in art education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Alvarez was contracted by the Chicago Public Library to teach digital media lessons to tweens and teens at the Lozano Branch. She found that her Spanish-speaking community members relied on their local public library for information because of the scarcity of available bilingual resources. It is the library's unique position to empower communities that prompted her to pursue a master's in library and information science at the iSchool. For Alvarez, "As an employee and a new mom, the Leep program at Illinois was the perfect fit."

Copeland receives SAA Pinkett Award

Thu, 01 Jun 2017 13:57:12 +0000

(image) Master's student NaVosha Copeland is a 2017 recipient of the Harold T. Pinkett Minority Student Award given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The award will be presented at a ceremony during the SAA Annual Meeting in July. The award recognizes minority graduate students of African, Asian, Latino, or Native American descent who, through scholastic achievement, manifest an interest in becoming professional archivists and active members of SAA. 

Copeland's initiative and ability to collaborate on projects related to archives, primary source research, and community building impressed the SAA Awards Committee. As the historian of the Emory Black Student Union (EBSU), Copeland created a presentation on the first African American students and faculty of Emory University, initiated the process to make available the records of student organizations, including the foundational documents of EBSU, and held open forums with students groups to ensure preservation of their records. She has also partnered with curators and librarians to develop an exhibit on African American productions of Shakespeare's Othello

One of her supporters noted that Copeland is "adept at identifying relevant collections, interrogating the material, and repurposing it to affect change or to recognize past achievements of students and faculty of color on campus."

"My goal is to become an archivist who assists diverse communities in accessing and using the archives. I am committed to developing outreach initiatives that will attract communities of color," said Copeland. 

Established in 1993, the award honors the late Dr. Harold T. Pinkett, who served with distinction during his long tenure at the National Archives and Records Administration and who was a Fellow of SAA. Also receiving the Pinkett Award this year is Chido Muchemwa, a graduate student at the University of Austin at Texas.

Founded in 1936, the Society of American Archivists is North America's oldest and largest national archival professional association. SAA's mission is to serve the educational and informational needs of more than 6,200 individual and institutional members and to provide leadership to ensure the identification, preservation, and use of records of historical value.

Chris D'Arpa defends dissertation

Wed, 31 May 2017 21:31:26 +0000

Doctoral candidate Chris D'Arpa successfully defended her dissertation, "'Procure, propagate, and distribute among the people': The information service functions of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1862-1888," on May 30.

Her committee included Associate Professor Emerita Christine Jenkins (chair), Professor Alistair Black, Professor Emeritus Dan Schiller, and Professor Linda C. Smith.

From the abstract: Prior to the establishment of the Department of Agriculture in 1862 and concurrent with its growth and development, farmers had myriad ways of sharing and communicating agricultural information. Some of that information was rooted in experimental practice but much of it was anecdotal and based on years of farming experience. The historiography of U.S. agriculture demonstrates that farmers both needed and used that information – information they created, circulated, and consumed in their work as farmers. The introduction of information work at the Department of Agriculture not only altered the kind and amount of information that farmers had access to but effectively sought to redefine who the “experts” were through the production and dissemination of the results of applied scientific research for agriculture conducted by scientists at the newly formed Department or work by others filtered through the institution and thus vetted by it. The vehicle for much of this information transfer was the annual reports of the Department of Agriculture. This dissertation is an historical examination of the development of the Department of Agriculture that looks specifically at its information functions from 1862-1888 – the period under the commissionership and before it was elevated to cabinet-level status. Using the annual reports of the Department of Agriculture to identify and examine those functions, I situate the information work of the Department of Agriculture within the context of the emergence of the modern state and American empire, industrializing capitalism, and the history of information.