Student James Hicks Earns MLIS While Working in Japan

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San José State University School of Information student James Hicks currently works as an adjunct English professor at three separate universities in Japan, owns a small business that sells pure beeswax candles, and has two young children. On top of all of that, Hicks is pursuing his MLIS degree to position himself for a new career when his family eventually returns to North America in another five or six years.

“After research into a variety of fields, I found that my interests and passions kept leading me back to an MLIS,” said Hicks, who earned his undergraduate degree in International Affairs from George Washington University and his first masters in International Relations from Salve Regina University’s distance-learning program. “It seems like an ideal second career as the field values broad life and work experience.”

Hicks, who expects to graduate in 2012, picked SJSU School of Information because of its “great reputation” and the distance learning program that allows him to study online at his convenience.

“I appreciate the extensive use of current technologies that encourage both asynchronous and synchronous collaboration with other students and close contact with professors,” he said. Hicks, in fact, finds that the time zone difference can actually be an advantage in group projects because it allows a team to continue working on a project 24/7 with new input and advice arriving throughout the day.

In summer 2009, Hicks was a INFO 204 Information Organizations and Management team project leader, an experience that he admits was “initially disorienting but ultimately enjoyable and rewarding” as it gave him perspective on virtual work environments on a global scale.

According to Hicks, libraries in Japan tend to be used more often as reading rooms than as reference and resource centers, like in the U.S. His observations about reading styles in Japan served as the basis for his research paper for INFO 200-Information and Society, which he plans to publish.

As more university students read news articles and web novels on their mobile phones, “there has been a significant impact on reading styles among heavy mobile phone users and early adopters from the standard top-down reading style (tategaki) to the left-right reading style (yokogaki) which is used on mobile phones,” he said. “Almost all fictional literature is written in the top-down style, as are newspapers. Web novels that have made the jump to print have been published in the left-right style which indicates an impact on publishing with future implications for education and business in Japan.”