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LIS Brief: LIS Students Taking Charge

“Filling in the Spaces” is an ongoing Library and Information Science Student Assembly (LISSA) program here at the iSchool where students lead short presentations, activities or lectures on topics they are passionate about. Students present on professional development, educational, and specialty topics ranging from copyright to salsa dancing. Yes, salsa dancing. They recognize and meet the need for both academic and recreational knowledge building opportunities.

Christopher Turner, Data Librarian at Axiom Data Science in Anchorage, Alaska, started “Filling in the Spaces” when he was an eScience Librarianship Fellow here at the iSchool (2010-2012).  Topher (Christopher) Lawton, Science Reference Services Librarian at Old Dominion University, assumed leadership during his second year (2012-2013). He saw “FitS as an opportunity to enhance the LIS curriculum by asking students doing cool work to share their knowledge with others.” The year he facilitated them, they focused on giving students a chance to build some presentation skills, and share the things they were most passionate about with other people. Since then LISSA has preserved it by maintaining a video archive, promoting and soliciting presenters, and acronymizing it “FiTS.”

When asked about what “Filling in the Spaces” meant and why students do it, Jill Hurst-Wahl, Director of MSLIS & MSLISSM, said, “Oh…what does it mean…the sessions are meant to fill in the spaces in your knowledge. Gee…we need to know how to do X, and I know how to do that, so let me teach you!”

designed by Katrina Maust
designed by Katrina Maust

I interviewed past and current participants an asked them two questions. Here’s what they had to say.

Chad Harper (a.k.a Chadmister) is a second year LIS student, entrepreneur, and was  recently recognized as Student of the Quarter by the Institute for Veteran and Military Families (IVMF). His FiTS have been about “Web Hosting Basics” and “Pivot Tables.”

CCH: Why did you FiTS?

CH: I presented my FiTS sessions because I felt like the skills I presented on were ones people SHOULD know and be able to use in their professional lives. There are so many topics that need to be taught that aren’t because they aren’t considered “academic.” For instance, there is no class in Excel here, despite the fact that 90% of businesses use Excel. It’s my hope that someone who has taken or seen my Pivot Tables FiTS can go into an interview and say, “Yeah, I know pivot tables.” If that helps set them apart, then I have done my job. I was also worried that folks were getting too comfortable with freebie web authoring sites like Wix and Weebly, and weren’t conversant enough about what web sites actually are. That’s why I did the web hosting session. My hope was to demystify the concepts of web hosting and enable everyone to go a little deeper than the free (advertisement ridden) web packages.

CCH: What does FiTS mean to you?

To me, it’s about truly filling in the spaces between the courses, finding and sharing topics that aren’t covered in the curriculum, but will be valuable in a professional setting.

I came to grad school to learn how to teach, so it gave me an excellent opportunity to design a lightweight “class” to see if I really liked it.

I did like it.

Alexandra Heidler is a second year student and president of LISSA. Her FiTS was “I Can Copy, Right?”

CCH: Why did you FiTS?

AH: I presented because a lot of people were interested in the class, or want to learn more about Copyright but can’t afford to take the elective on it because they are taking a CAS or something else. You know how it goes. For me FiTS represents exactly what it stands for. It’s a chance for students to contribute to one another. An entire class on cataloging is grueling. Learning how it applies and might be helpful in 45 minutes a lot less so.

I am a pretty decent public speaker too so I don’t personally take advantage of the program for that. But I find that having it as an option is also great. We spend so much of our academic time bullshitting our way through being excited for a report. But we’re just not going to approach everything with the same amount of passion as something more personal and dear. Giving a talk on something outside the academic sphere helps bring us together a bit, creates a sense of company you don’t find in classrooms, and most importantly gives others a chance to do public speaking in a way that grants them more control. Whatever we do from outside the iSchool, I almost guarantee you’ll be speaking, presenting, or exchanging information that mimics these sessions. Getting some un-graded, not riding on a contract, and unprofessional setting experience can help you feel more comfortable in those high stake roles.

So yeah, that is my answer =)

Jared Raymond is a second year LIS student. His FiTS was on “Fantasy Sports Drafting and Team Management.”

CCH: What does FiTS mean to you?

FITS to me means showcasing knowledge that you have that others may not have and are otherwise interested in. I feel that we are a unique bunch in the library school and that while we get the chance to talk about our specific interests, we rarely get the opportunity to show our specific interests and teach each other some of the finer nuances of the subject in an organized manner. Furthermore, the ones that are video taped provide an avenue for a portfolio item which may be useful down the road. At the very worst, it is an opportunity for similarly inclined students to meet and discuss the very topics that brings them together.

CCH: Why did you FiTS?

I did my FITS because I initially thought it was a joke. Chad suggested that I do one on fantasy sports and I did not take him seriously. At some point I think I asked about it in a LISSA meeting and a few people were interested. I made a Facebook post and about 5-10 people (more if you count non Syracuse people) were interested in either attending or watching the stream. I also figured that this would be a cool portfolio item to send to the baseball hall of fame with my application, so with some logistical help from Mallory and words of encouragement, I got it going. It was a small crowd due to the short notice and proximity to spring break, but it was worth it. I have the video with me and I got to engage with an audience and answer questions on something that I know something about, which made me feel useful.

Kenneth Roman is a first year LIS student and the first one in his cohort to present. His recent FiTS was on “Promoting Folk and Fairy Tales.”

CCH: Why did you FiTS?

KR: I wanted to share my knowledge about Folk and Fairy Tales. During the presentation, I talked about some history and theory behind tales like Cinderella and then gave suggestions for promoting a Folk and Fairy Tale collection in libraries.

CCH: What does FiTS mean to you?

KR: When I first heard of the FITS program, I thought what a great way for us to share our interests and hopefully find others that share our interests or are curious about why we are.  After I presented my FITS, I was approached by people who told me that they always wanted a reason to discuss Fairy Tales and thanked me for creating an event that allowed them to do so.  The FITS programs are a great way to get people to share and learn from each other.

Ryan Perry is a second year LIS student and a man of many talents. His FiTS was a “Brewery Tour.”

CCH: What is FiTS?

RP: While FiTS began as a way to fill the gaps in the LIS curriculum, it has since evolved to encompass a range of topics and interests.  Beyond serving as a forum for sharing our individual areas of expertise, it also offers an opportunity to promote public speaking skills–which are very important both in careers and at conferences.

CCH: Why did you FiTS?

RP: While my sessions have all centered around beer, I found it to be a good occasion to organize my thoughts and practice my curatorial perspective.

Carl Smith is a second year student. His FiTS was on “Family History Resources for Librarians”

CCH: What does FiTS mean to you?

CS: FiTS is a great way for library students to expand their knowledge and expertise in a peer-to-peer environment. It allows students opportunities to learn about aspects of librarianship that may not be covered in classes, and gives students opportunities to present workshops, giving them valuable experience that can be used for professional conferences and later in their respective careers. FiTS is a win-win situation for everyone, whether you’re an attendee, presenter, or both! I HIGHLY encourage all library students to present at least one FiTS during they stay at SU, and to attend as many presentations from peers as you can… you won’t regret it!

Other FiTS events have included:

“Zines,” by Beau Bradley
“Pinterest for Business,” by Sarah Bratt
“BeIT LinkedIN Workshop,” by Kim Brown
“I Can Copy, Right?,” by Alexandra Heidler
“Video Editing,” by Michael Hutinson
“Collecting and Curating for People (CCCP),” by Sturdy Knight
Mia Breitkopf and Aaron Neslin

On April 18th, 2015 LISSA and iSGO have teamed up to present a Day of Filling in the Spaces (FiTS). Stay tuned.

+ “What do you think is the secret to getting hired?” Find the answer @ Meredith Tornabene, Assistant Director of Career Counseling @iSchoolSU, shares some extremely valuable information and resources with LIS students. Don’t miss her next workshop: Library Professionals Panel on March 25th 2015.

+ If you’re ready to take back the conversation be sure to attend student-led “2015 Symposium on LIS Education” (@LIS_Symposium) on April 10th -11th, 2015. Three of your very own iSchoolers will be presenting: Annamichelle ChovanecKatrina Maust, and I.

Library Journal’s Lead the Change Leadership Academy “offers timely resources and tools to stay ahead of the innovations and changes impacting the library profession.” If you’re working in the library and need a tuneup, signup. The courses start on April 22nd, 2015.

+ You can’t learn everything from your MSLIS program. The Hack Library School Team on how to supplement your LIS education in The HLS Guide to Library School.

+ Are you a distance student trying to develop your social network? Check out “Social Networking: An Exploratory Study of Student Peer Socializing in an Online LIS Program,” by Lili Luo. There’s also “The Big HUGH list of FB Groups for Librarians.”

+ Also, Jill Hurst Wahl shares with you “What [she] want[s] LIS Students to know.” This is worth bookmarking!

Luo, L. (2010). Social Networking Websites: An Exploratory Study of Student Peer Socializing in an Online LIS Program. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 51(2), 86–102. doi:10.2307/20720487

What are LIS students doing that we should be promoting?

Carl C. Haynes

Carl Christopher Haynes is a Library and Information Science graduate student at Syracuse University School of Information Studies. He serves as the Graduate Student Government Representative for the LIS department. He indulges in running, cheesecake, and poetry.

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