(Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of posts profiling the iSchool’s Library and Information Science faculty. Check out previous 7 Question posts with R. David Lankes and Renee F. Hill)

Jill Hurst-Wahl is the ultimate connector. Need to know about a conference and/or about conference etiquette (essential for the newbie)? Ask Jill.

Need to know about who is working on a project that interests you? Ask Jill.

Need to know about being a corporate librarian or an entrepreneur? Ask Jill. In every specifically chosen word, Jill is an excellent resource.

In this vein, Jill writes about a wide variety of interesting things on her blog, Digitization 101. She also teaches a couple specialized classes that include the highly sought after IST 735 (Copyright for Information Professionals) and an upcoming May-mester on business intelligence (IST 626: Business Information Resources and Strategic Intelligence).

Still have questions? My recommendation: ask Jill.


KM: Which Social Media do you prefer (If no social media, why not?)

JHW: I really like Twitter because it allows me to connect to a wide variety of people. I can follow people I want to follow and they don’t have to follow me back. I really appreciate that one-way connection.

I also like that I can organize the people I’m following into lists, which is immensely helpful because I follow close to a thousand people. Being be able to organize them, pay attention when I want to pay attention, and follow special streams (upcoming conferences and the like) is key. I also use it at conferences to pay attention and take notes.

So really, I get a lot of value out of twitter.

KM: What is the one app you couldn’t live without?

JHW: So when I realized you were going to ask me about this, I concluded I could live without all the apps but then I thought there must be an app that I really rely on. In the past, I proved to myself that I could live without an app that seemed addicting. However, I tried to think of the ones that I use most frequently.

I think if I had to choose an app, it probably would be a weather app or a news app. Those are the ones that I really get good use out of. One of the things I do in the morning, which I previously did with the radio, then with the TV and now my phone, is check the weather. I also like being able to check the news on my phone.

I don’t have any specific news apps because it is more like 4 or 5 different ones. With weather, until recently, it was The Weather Channel app but recently I downloaded the Yahoo Weather app. I like that it has local photos.

KM: What is your favorite local hangout?

JHW: In good weather – that translates into warmer weather – it is Onondaga Lake Park. I like going walking there. In the summer I go a couple times a week.

This question also makes me think in terms of favorite restaurants. In that case, I have two that I would offer up. The first is Julie’s Diner in North Syracuse. I like places where people get to know you. You walk in and here comes your coffee, they know what you want (your regular orders). The second place is a restaurant in Liverpool called The Retreat, which is just really good.

KM: What was your aha moment, when you knew you wanted to dedicate your professional life to the information field?

JHW: So I wanted to be a librarian since the 5th grade. Interestingly, this fall someone I went to school with found a photo of the “library club” – I didn’t even remember that we had a library club! I remember going to the library in 5th grade and being interested in how they were organized – it was very old school, the cards, the stamps, the cards in the back of the book, etc. Then I worked in my junior high library, my senior high library, my college library – all kind of working towards going to library school. By the time I was in junior high, I knew that that was what I wanted to do.

KM: What do you think makes the iSchool LIS program different from all the others?

JHW: I think every program is unique in the combination of the faculty… you know, who they are, what their interests are, and then how they approach the classes. So there is a similarity across programs in terms of classes, but we [SU] are unique in the approach we bring to the classroom. I think the fact that we are part of an iSchool – a larger information program – makes us unique. The fact that we like technology – that we are all kind of geeky – makes us unique in some way or another.

KM: What is the craziest (most positive) development you see actually happening in the LIS world?

JHW: So the one that comes to mind is libraries becoming more outward facing and interacting more with their communities. Asking their communities what they want and then trying to deliver on those needs. Whether these [needs] are something libraries have focused on in the past or something new like going to where the need is – like going to factories and helping people with their search for jobs on site or whatever other information needs they might have. There have been libraries that have done that – who have actually set up shop next to factories that are shutting down and helping people with job searches and resumes.

I have two more! The first is libraries looking at little free libraries – seeing how they can use them and interact with them and not see them as competition. It is kind of cool to see how the little free libraries have developed and then that intersection of the libraries seeing how to incorporate them as part of their outreach effort. The other would be Jason Griffey and the Library Box – which is not an effort of a library but an effort of a librarian to create a way for people to access digital materials from their mobile devices. Watching him develop that and then launch a successful funding campaign and make it this thing – it has been cool. Also cool, is watching libraries and people trying to figure out to use that device to deliver resources.

[Katrina sidenote: check out his new project that I learned about (and got super excited about) at ALA Midwinter, Measure the Future]

KM: What was your favorite part or moment of graduate school? (proudest, most fun, etc)

JHW: My favorite would be the people I worked with, because I was a work/study student. This includes other students I worked with and the faculty I worked for. The other favorite would be getting a job and the way it unfolded. I was able to go into a position where I was using what I learned in school but not in a library.

KM: Bonus question: What gets your endorsement this week? (some cultural item of the week – random interesting reading, music you can’t get out of your head, news you are geeking out about, project you find interesting, TV show you are marathon watching, etc…)

JHW: So if it is one thing, it is going to be an app called Stop, Breathe & Think which is a meditation app and website.

If I can choose multiple things [to endorse], there are some other things that keep me jazzed and connected to what other people are thinking about. There is a podcast, an Australian one, called Future Tense which I really like because it is people thinking about the future in a variety of ways. There is another podcast called The Rhythm Divine, also from Australia, and I like that one because they focus on religious music from a wide variety of traditions and cultures. There is cultural aspect to it – I’m learning about all these different cultures and how they think about music and how they [featured musicians] got into the specific ways of doing music. And then the third one is TED Talks.

So I often listen while I’m eating lunch, as I find TED Talks and Future Tense really spark ideas about what’s going on in the larger world and keep me not just thinking about libraries but also other things.

Oh and one last one! I actually participate in a podcast called T is for Training. That’s been going on for several years, twice a month. What I like about that is the conversations with the other library trainers that participate in the podcast. It is not always about training but really interesting conversations and exchange of ideas.

If this conversation sparked an interest in the MLIS program here at the iSchool, take a look at our Expect More scholarship – applications are being accepted until March 1!