Why Join a Student Group?

iStudent Blog

Published: September 17, 2021 by Leslie Parry

Student groups are a cornerstone of the San José State University School of Information. They offer professional connections, personal camaraderie and the chance to hone valuable skills outside of the curriculum, particularly in the areas of leadership and communication. So what does it mean to take part in one of these groups? What opportunities do they offer at the iSchool and beyond? These were a few of the questions posed at the Fall Student Group Meet & Greet, which featured the American Library Association (ALA), Society of American Archivists (SAA), Special Libraries Association (SLA), REFORMA and ASIS&T student chapters, as well as the Student Research Journal, the First Generation Student Group and VCARA. Over the course of the presentation each organization had the opportunity to introduce themselves, talk about the benefits and responsibilities of student group involvement, and connect with potential new members. Read on for a lightning round introduction to these award-winning organizations. (You can also view the entire presentation on the ALA student chapter’s YouTube channel). 

American Library Association Student Chapter (ALASC)

ALA is the world’s largest and oldest professional library association, representing public libraries, college and research libraries, school libraries and more. The aim of the SJSU student chapter is to “foster community and connection among all students and across all career pathways within the School of Information.” According to the leadership team, the social and professional benefits are manifold. Not only are there networking and conference opportunities, but, in the words of one executive member, “ALASC is a space where I can interact with peers at the iSchool and grow professionally through leadership opportunities.”

ALASC excels at connecting the iSchool student community through activities, programs and more. Check out their Banned Books Trivia Night coming up at the end of the month! 

Society of American Archivists Student Chapter (SAASC)

SAA is the oldest and largest national association dedicated to the needs of the archival community. The SJSU student chapter, in particular, “strives to promote archival interests in our academic community, to provide a platform for discussing archival issues, and to engage students in professional activities in order to enhance career development.” They publish an open access digital journal, Archeota, twice a year. If you’re interested in contributing, read a few of their past issues and take a look at the submission requirements. It’s a publication by and for students!

SAASC’s upcoming programs include virtual visits to the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, the Getty Research Institute and the University of Nevada Special Collections and Archives. Check out their complete calendar of events here.

Special Libraries Association Student Chapter (SLASC)

Curious about alternative LIS careers, such as working for a museum, law library, or zoo? Special libraries can be found across all disciplines, and SLA is dedicated to connecting information professionals in diverse settings across the globe. At SJSU, SLASC is committed to making students aware of different pathways and opportunities through virtual events, blog posts, and newsletters.

Coming up on October 5th, iSchool alum Tess McCarthy ‘12 will speak about the skills and strategies necessary to complete the e-Portfolio and successfully transition into an LIS career.

REFORMA SJSU iSchool Student and Alumni Group

The national REFORMA association, an affiliate of ALA, is dedicated to providing library services to Spanish-speaking communities, meeting the needs of Latino patrons, and supporting a biliterate, bicultural and bilingual population. The SJSU REFORMA chapter is an excellent resource for students and alums who are interested in working in this area. The group is also committed to supporting multicultural students at the iSchool and creating opportunities for professional development. The regular “Cafecito con…” series invites LIS professionals to talk about their experiences working with Spanish-language materials and Spanish-speaking communities.

Be sure to register for the next virtual event, Cafecito con Kristen Grunberg. Grunberg is President of REFORMA Mid-Atlantic chapter and a librarian at Prince George’s County Memorial Library (September 30th).

Association for Information Science and Technology Student Chapter (ASIS&T)

“The Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) is the preeminent professional association that bridges the gap between information science practice and research,” says the student chapter’s leadership team. “We bridge the gap by providing resources and events with professionals in the information science field that you can network with.” Further, they say, “It’s a great way to get to know people at the iSchool! You get to engage in meaningful conversations and create bonds with other students who share similar interests and career goals. Exposure to new ideas keeps us engaged and motivated!”

Check out the group’s upcoming events, including a look at the King Library Experiential Virtual Reality (KLEVR) Lab.

Student Research Journal (SRJ)

“The Student Research Journal is a double-blind peer-reviewed, open access journal based at the iSchool,” explains Meghan Duffey, Manager Editor. “The Journal is developed and led by current graduate students at the School of Information and advised by Dr. Anthony Bernier and the Editorial Advisory Board.” There are many professional advantages, says Duffey.  “SRJ Editors gain competitive experience working within an academic publication as a peer-review editor. All editors learn valuable editorial, teamwork, and communication skills, while helping other students further their academic careers.” On a personal note, she says, “After accepting this position, my leadership, management, and organizational skills have constantly improved and I am learning how to step into a supervisory role. I get to work with a fantastic editorial team while creating a journal that we can all be proud of.”

Check out SRJ’s submission guidelines and past issues for a sense of what they publish!

First Generation Student Group (FGSG)

The First Generation Student Group offers community, support, and professional development for those who are the first in their families to attend graduate school – or anyone who may feel new to the experience. Perhaps you’ve been out of school for a long time, or maybe you don’t know many people who have chosen a similar track. “Even if you aren’t technically a first-generation student (FGS), if you feel like you are one, you are more than welcome to join us in navigating this whole grad school thing,” says Audrey Hockenberry, FGSG Chair. “Getting validation on feelings and knowing you aren’t alone in some of your struggles as a FGS is always a plus.” Additionally, she says, it’s personally rewarding to help others. “In a leadership position, I get to steer the group in a direction that I believe the majority of us would get the most benefit from, as well as collect the issues that we are facing so we can address them head-on.”

Be sure to attend the fall meeting on October 14th, where Dr. Anthony Bernier, the group’s advisor, will be speaking.

Virtual Center for Archives Records Administration (VCARA) 

If you’re interested in building and interacting in virtual worlds, consider joining VCARA, the iSchool’s virtual world community. Managed by Bethany Winslow, Director of Online Learning, and Dr. Marie Vans, VCARA promotes “social, creative, and educational collaboration using multiple virtual environments, from desktop virtual worlds to head-mounted display social virtual reality platforms.” Check out the adventures of the VR Exploders Club as well as the new website and blog.

All of the groups’ contact information and social media handles can be found on this single handout, which was created especially for the Meet & Greet. And remember – you don’t need to fit a certain profile or pursue a particular pathway to get involved! Student groups are inclusive, supportive environments, dedicated to the advancement of all. 


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