Student Amy Unger Finds Rich Rewards in Professional Trendspotting Course

Student Amy Unger has completed 30 units so far towards her MLIS degree, but says no class has been more valuable to her than the one-unit LIBR 298 Special Studies: Trendspotting. The class met in person during the joint California Library Association/California School Library Association (CLA/CSLA) conference in Sacramento during November 2010.

“It wasn’t until the conference and trendspotting class that the whole world of librarianship truly opened up for me,” said Unger, who works part-time as a school librarian in southern California. “It was this fantastically explosive experience where I explored conference workshops and met with library leaders in face-to-face surroundings. I would say at this point that this one-unit course was truly the best experience I’ve had so far.”

Unger and her classmates got to know each other in the online environment before meeting in Sacramento. Instructor Patty Wong assigned readings in professional networking and trendspotting to prepare students for the five-day conference.

“We had a minimum number of conference sessions we had to attend, and we met as a class each day,” Unger explained. “At each meeting we reported on our workshops and talked about the trends we noticed. We also had guest speakers join us to discuss their work and share advice for future librarians.” The guest speakers included 2010-2011 ALA President Roberta Stevens and California State Librarian Stacey Aldrich.

Unger said the professional trends that stood out to her during the conference were increasing mobile technology use, greater efforts to support diverse communities, and a growing connection between public libraries and K-12 schools.

A part-time K-12 school librarian, Unger chose to attend sessions on innovation and on children’s resources. A highlight was a curriculum workshop with artist and author Maya Christina Gonzalez on empowering children using self-portraiture.

In addition, Unger had the opportunity to tour the California State Archives with the SLIS student organization LISSTEN and to attend the SLIS reception with the School’s director, Dr. Sandra Hirsh.

While Unger has attended several professional school conferences, the 2010 CLA/CSLA Conference was her first library conference experience.

“Truth be told, I don’t know that I would have attended the conference without this opportunity to be guided into the experience,” Unger said. “That’s a really important component of this class, because once someone opens up the door of professional conference attendance, it makes it that much easier to go on your own in the future.”

CLA and CSLA will hold their 2011 joint conference in Pasadena, CA. Unger, who lives nearby in the San Fernando Valley, is looking forward to attending. “There’s so much to be learned there,” she said. “Meeting with people, getting to know them, collaborating, and continuing to learn from each other and help each other as professionals.”

SJSU SLIS will offer Summer 2011 sections of the professional trendspotting course at the Special Library Association conference in Philadelphia, and at ALA’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Our School’s former director, Dr. Ken Haycock, will lead the course at ALA. Sections for Fall 2011 will be held at CLA, Internet Librarian, and ASIST.

Unger enrolled in the MLIS program in Spring 2009 and credits the distance learning environment with her success in juggling two-part time jobs, being a parent, and keeping up with her graduate coursework. “There’s something really phenomenal happening at SLIS where there’s this bridge between theory and practice,” Unger said. “I really appreciate the approach of the instructors, the course content, and the online learning platform.”

Unger also works part-time in Student Services at California State University Northridge, in the College of Education. She holds a teaching credential and an MA in Educational Psychology from CSU Northridge. Passionate about supporting the information needs of teachers, Unger hopes to continue that work after graduating.