Monday, June 24, 2013

How to Succeed as a First Semester LIS Student

This post originally appeared on Information Space, the blog of the iSchool at Syracuse University, on 4 October 2011.

In my first few weeks as a student at the School of Information Studies, I’ve been scrambling to figure out the best ways to engage with my classwork, prepare myself for a future career in the information field, and have fun while doing it. This post at Hack Library School lays out some great advice for new librarians, but their suggestions also apply to IM and TNM students, or anyone interested in the information field. So, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best advice I’ve found, been given, or wanted to give about settling in to a new program.
Before You Get to School
  • Start a portfolio: Whether it’s a blog, a website, a collection of works, or even just well-managed social- networking profiles, be prepared to present a public face to the world (and to future employers). Especially at the master’s level, the work we’re doing feeds our careers, and will establish us in the field. Simple ways to do this are to create a site using or, or sign up for Brand-Yourself.
  • Manage your online presence: Know which social networks you’re on, and which ones you should join. Twitter is full of librarians (check out this list), and the #libchat hashtag is a great way to get a bead on the conversation. LinkedIn is also a good way to start reaching out to the people in your discipline—alumni networks are powerful tools, and there’s nothing preventing you from starting to connect with them now.
When You Arrive
  • Set up tools for communication and collaboration: Setting up your campus email is a must, but look to your classmates as well. Information sciences are all about communication and conversation, and it’s important to know where those conversations happen. GoogleDocs and Gmail are both really useful for working on projects, but don’t forget online tools like Facebook, Skype, Twitter, Dropbox, and more! See what people are using to collaborate and hop on board.
  • Meet the faculty: This is good advice for everyone from prospective students to Ph.D’s—getting to know your professors outside of class will give you a plethora of people to work with and get advice from, and it might just make your classes more enjoyable. Go to office hours, volunteer for projects in your specialization, talk to the researchers who are doing things that fascinate you.
Once You’ve Settled In
  •  Start talking to people: Join the conversation in your field, as early as possible. No matter what program you’re enrolled in, it’s important to get to know what options are available to you as you prepare to start a career. Ask for informational interviews with the people who are most passionate about their work- ask them how they got started. People love talking about the things they’re most interested in, and it’s a really good way to build your network.
  • Explore: Get out of your comfort zone! Particularly in LIS, where most of us seem to have multi-disciplinary backgrounds, it’s wonderful to keep up ties to other fields. Join a chorus, play in a kickball league, find a chess club—as much as Hinds Hall is a second home to us all, it’s great to see the rest of campus. Make connections outside of the other students in your program and some of them might become lifelong friends.
By the End of the Semester
  • Have a plan: This is straight from Zachary Frazier at Hack Library School, but it’s amazing advice. By the end of your first semester, have a good idea of where you’re going and what it will take to get there. Meet with your faculty adviser, check out the course catalogue, and know what you need to do both inside and outside the classroom. There’s nothing that says you can’t change plans, but having one to start with will keep you on track.
Do you have any advice to share? Let us know in the comments!

Experience Open Access Week in Syracuse and Beyond

This post originally appeared on Information Space, the blog of the iSchool at Syracuse University, on 24 October 2011.

October 24 marks the start of Open Access Week, now in its fifth year. Running until October 30, Open Access Week promotes and celebrates access to information. There are several ways for you to get involved, on campus and off.
From the Open Access Week website:
“Open Access” to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole.
Open Access (OA) has the potential to maximize research investments, increase the exposure and use of published research, facilitate the ability to conduct research across available literature, and enhance the overall advancement of scholarship. Research funding agencies, academic institutions, researchers and scientists, teachers, students, and members of the general public are supporting a move towards Open Access in increasing numbers every year. Open Access Week is a key opportunity for all members of the community to take action to keep this momentum moving forward.
Here in Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, we have partnered with Bird Library to bring you plenty of chances to celebrate and get involved.
Last week, you may have taken part in The Common Cause Is Freedom: The Personal Politics of Solidarity Organizing or Publication Innovation: Sustaining Digital Repositories for Science lectures given at the Bird Library and sponsored both by the library and others. If you missed them, there are plenty of other events coming up.
Monday, October 24:
Open Access Week Kick-Off Webcast
10:00am – Noon
Bird Library, Peter Graham Scholarly Commons
Tuesday, October 25:
ENY-ACRL (Eastern New York/Association of College and Research Libraries) Open Access Brown Bag
ESF Moon Library, room 110
Join panelists Michael Poulin (Colgate), Yuan Li (Syracuse), Steve Weiter (SUNY ESF) and others as we discuss discovery of open access materials, SHERPA/RoMEO, costs of publication and other related topics of interest.
Wednesday, October 26:
E-science Expo – what you need to know about data management and data preservation
Life Science Building, Lundgren Room
Presentations by eScience Fellows –graduate students in the School of Information Studies, involved in e-science/data intensive librarianship and improving data management/preservation practices, especially for federally-funded research.
Thursday, October 27:
Will Libraries Survive Copyright?
12:30 – 2:00pm
Hinds Hall, Innovation Studio, Room 011
Lecture by Dorothea Salo, Faculty Associate, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Current national and international copyright practices have the potential to devastate libraries as we know them.  Widely-accepted practices, such as First Sale, Section 108 (the library “fair use” code), electronic reserves, interlibrary loan, electronic-book and e-journal lending are all under legal threat.   Digitization of library-owned materials presents additional challenges, as does the technology sometimes used in the name of enforcing copyright.  This Open Access Week, learn to recognize these threats and what we can all do about them.
Even if you’re unable to get involved in the OA events this week, there’s a lot of great information about OA week on their website—and be sure to check out the sections for librarians, students, and faculty. They’re chock full of great ideas on how to get involved.
Syracuse University also has its own Open Access repository. Known as SUrface, the Syracuse University Research Facility And Collaborative Environment, “gathers, organizes, disseminates, and preserves the cultural and scholarly record of SU. At the same time, it increases the visibility of authors’ works, maximizes research impact, facilitates interdisciplinary research, and provides local, regional, and global communities with immediate and permanent access.”
What do you think of Open Access? How have you gotten involved? Let us know in the comments!