From Great Grad School Paper to Getting Published — SJSU iSchool Students’ Work Goes out into the World

iStudent Blog

Published: June 15, 2017

Students at the SJSU iSchool work hard on their academic papers, pouring their passion and hours of research into a project to make it the best it can be. Instructors appreciate this kind of effort and so do editors. Recently, several iSchool students and alumni submitted their graduate school research and writing to LIS publications and been rewarded not only with publication but glowing praises of the publication editors.

Current iSchool student Amy Nykamp was inspired by the appointment of Dr. Carla Hayden as the Librarian of Congress and wanted to write about the history of the Library of Congress (LC) for her Info 280 History of Books and Libraries course. Instructor Dr. Debra Hansen suggested that Nykamp focus on a specific time period of the LC, so Nykamp settled on the administration of Herbert Putnam. “Putnam’s tenure of 40 years was very rich in content,” says Nykamp, “not to mention the LC Cataloging system was created during that time. The research was fascinating as I learned not only about the history of the LC, but also the environment politically and socially during that time.” After a perfect grade and a call for submissions sent to the class by Hansen, Nykamp submitted her paper to the Library History Round Table (LHRT) of the American Library Association (ALA) to see if it would get published. And just like that—it did!

Submitting and getting published isn’t always that simple, but if you’ve worked hard on something, and you’re proud of your efforts, it may be worthwhile to see if you can share it with a larger audience. Right here at the iSchool, there are a variety of publication options for students. Research can be published with SJSU’s Student Research Journal or simple articles on a variety of subjects can be submitted to the ALASC’s newsletter, the Descriptor, the SAASC’s journal Archeota or a post for the SLASC’s blog. The best resource for discovering publishing opportunities in the wider world of Library and Information Science is the LIS Publications Wiki, begun by SJSU School of Information instructor Laurie Putnam and regularly updated by iSchool students.

Current student Joshua Owens wrote his Info 280 paper about the library where he works as an archivist. Owens focused his research on the Nevada State Library. “Everything that I needed to write this paper was at my fingertips,” says Owens. “I felt it was important to write about my library because it is a State library and is governed by different rules than public libraries and many University libraries.” Owens’ focus at the iSchool is the Archives and Preservation pathway, so the course taught by Dr. Linda Main and Dr. Debra Hansen was an obvious choice.

iSchool student Katherine Monroe lives and works in Washington, D.C. For her final project in Info 280 History of Books and Libraries, Monroe wanted to focus on a less obvious choice in her hometown. “While most people might think Library of Congress when they think of libraries in Washington, DC, I wanted to move away from the obvious and find a library perhaps unknown to people outside of the city,” says Monroe. So she chose to research the District of Columbia’s Public Library system.

The project was made especially fun and interesting because of Monroe’s passion for decorative arts and her experience working for arts institutions. In the past, she has worked in the Smithsonian Institute’s Archives of American Art and their American Art and Portrait Gallery Library. Being able to study and write about the artistic and cultural value of the DC branch libraries was especially enjoyable. “When I saw that the first permanent building for the public library system was not just a Carnegie building but that it was also a Beaux-Arts building, I knew I had found the perfect topic!” says Monroe. “I already have a master’s in the history of decorative arts, so I was able to incorporate my previous knowledge of architecture and 19th-century culture, values, and styles into my paper. Combining my two areas of interest (decorative arts and librarianship) is something I love doing, so it was a natural fit and one that I enjoyed exploring.”

Submitting a paper for publication and working with an editor wasn’t too much of a stretch for current student Sarah Pultz who lives in San Diego County and works as a writing coach at Mira Costa College. For her Info 280 paper, Pultz focused on the rich history of her hometown library. “The SDPL has gone through many changes just in my lifetime and opened a beautiful new award-winning building in 2013,” says Pultz. “I wanted to learn more about the history of the library and how it has grown over the years. I chose 1854 – 1926 because during that time period the library had several distinct periods of strong leadership.”

As an iSchool student and future information professional, it is a good (okay mandatory or excellent) idea to hone your writing skills. With excellent writing skills, you can write awesome papers for your courses and then go on to publish them in the wider world. Of course, great writing and publishing credits also look good on a resume, and that’s pretty important for your future, too.

For tips about writing, style and formatting research papers, whatever the audience, be sure to visit the iSchool’s Writing Resources Web page.

Related articles include:
How SJSU iSchool Students Rev Up for the End of the Semester and Unwind for Summer

Life After the SJSU iSchool– The Way Degrees are Making a Difference in the Lives of Information Professionals

Library 2.017 Conference Reviews LIS Education and the SJSU iSchool Measures Up Strong

image courtesy of Stuart Miles

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