Alumni, Students Present at Third iSchool Community Poster Session during ALA Conference


The San José State University School of Information sponsored a community poster session featuring alumni and student speakers during the American Library Association’s annual conference held in June 2019. The poster session was the first time many of participants presented at a conference.

According to the event’s organizer, Student Outreach Specialist Sheila Gurtu, “Every year, ‘interpersonal and communication skills’ are shown to be a top value of employers in the iSchool’s annual LIS job skills report. The goal of this poster session is to make it fun and easy for student and alumni presenters to demonstrate their community impact, expand their personal networks, and add a presentation experience to their resumes.”

Tameca BeckettTameca Beckett’s curiosity inspired her to sign up to present her poster, “Intersecting Data Analytics and Student Engagement through Active and Service Learning.” Beckett, who completed her Master of Library and Information Science degree from SJSU’s iSchool in 2018 and currently serves as the reference and access services librarian for Delaware State University, said her library staff can attest to her inquisitive nature.

“Throughout my library journey, one of my favorite questions has been why? Why are we doing it this way? So, when I came to an academic library and took on the student worker program, I dug into the literature to figure out how the program originated and what was happening in other libraries,” she explained. “The one thing I saw missing was engagement…real engagement with the students. So, I flipped the program on its head and led with student engagement as the focus. Engagement has really been the heartbeat of my library career…it changes everything. I wanted to share something that embodied this focus.”

As an online student whose collaboration was mostly virtual, Beckett said she didn’t want to miss an opportunity to meet up with her iSchool family, and “loved seeing all the SJSU faculty, graduates and current students!” During the poster session, Beckett found the faculty encouraging and a source for pointers and research tips that have continued to serve her beyond the presentation.

“While I was a student, the program gave me the chance to explore librarianship, actually see cutting edge innovation unfold, which allowed me to implement that same innovative, creative focus at my public library in a meaningful way. Now as a graduate, and a doctoral student excited about research and teaching, I’m finding that SJSU is still giving me so much!” she said, adding, “Once a Spartan…always a Spartan!”

Rosa ConradOne of Rosa Conrad’s favorite parts about participating in the 2019 ALA Poster Session was creating a poster that “both engaged and informed” attendees about the interactive displays she created at California State University San Marcos. She said she also enjoyed meeting other students enrolled in the iSchool’s MLIS program and learning about the projects or research they’re working on. “Meeting other librarians who stopped to chat about my poster was great,” she said.

Conrad chose her poster topic, “You’re Invited: How Interactive Displays Can Transform Library Spaces for Student Engagement,” because she saw the engagement of students grow after a semester of creating monthly themed displays and thought that it may help students seek out additional library resources.

“It demonstrated to me the importance of having a space for students to share their thoughts, feelings, goals, and words of inspiration with other students,” she said. “It shows what a simple display can do to help students feel a sense of belonging on campus. More importantly, that they found themselves welcomed and comfortable coming to the library.”

Participating in the poster session offered Conrad the opportunity to see how students can make a difference where they work or volunteer. “We each have different interests because we work within different communities, and it gave us all a space to share and see how we are engaging our students/patrons, developing programs, and researching to better serve our communities.”

Susan GrouxThe preparation assistance offered to MLIS student Susan Groux gave her the confidence she felt she needed to present at future conferences. “The concept, at least for me, can be a bit intimidating, but Gurtu and Professor Anthony Bernier could not have been more supportive and encouraging. I am so grateful to her for giving me this opportunity to connect with other students and to practice my presentation skills in such a fun, low-pressure setting,” she said.

Groux’s presentation, “Technology & the Law:  Closing the Justice Gap,” is about a multimedia project covering how new technologies are changing some aspect of our society. The idea for the project sprang from an assignment from her Emerging Technologies class, taught by Dr. Sue Alman. 

Groux said she chose the law librarianship career pathway after attending a University of California Irvine library event, where the head librarian spoke about how artificial intelligence is being used in law practice. “That led me to research its effects on both clients and attorneys, and I discovered the Justice Gap—which is the divide between people’s civil legal needs and their ability to access adequate legal information and representation,” Groux explained.

She said the topic appealed to her “because it shows how we as information professionals can help to close that gap by providing them with tools to get the information and help that they need to address legal problems, such as government benefits disputes, child custody issues, immigration status and protective orders in domestic violence cases.”

Getting to meet some of her fellow students in person was a highlight for Groux, and she found seeing what other work was being done by program colleagues inspiring and motivating. “It opened my mind to aspects of the library and information field that I hadn’t even known existed, and this knowledge is going to help me both in my future course work and in becoming a more informed information professional,” she said.

Since returning home from ALA Annual, Groux has stayed connected with some of her fellow presenters and has begun to establish a national network of school colleagues that have talked about meeting up at future professional conferences.

Terry SchiavoneDuring MLIS student Terry Schiavone’s presentation, he discussed the digitization project he worked on at Penn State University Library, the Judy Chicago Art Education Collection. “I chose this topic because I have worked for three years as a digitization specialist and wanted to share with others my experiences and knowledge I gained throughout the process,” he said.

Networking with faculty members and meeting fellow classmates were some of Schiavone’s top takeaways of the poster session. “I enjoyed talking with the diverse group of colleagues that came to talk to me, as well as I thoroughly enjoyed talking with other presenters and hearing about their topics,” he said. “The session has been an excellent resource to further develop my public speaking and engagement abilities. It has helped further reinforce confidence in my knowledge, and it’s an excellent opportunity to connect with your peers.”

The poster session held during the ALA Annual Conference marked the third sponsored by the iSchool, with more than 40 alumni and student presenters taking part at the three events within the last year and a half.

The iSchool’s next poster event will be held during the California Library Association Conference in Pasadena, Calif. on October 25, 2019. Alumni and students are encouraged to sign up to present by September 30. The iSchool will provide a poster template and cover the poster printing. For more information about how to participate in future iSchool-sponsored poster sessions, please contact the Student Services Team at