Award-Winning SJSU School of Information Student Groups Promote Networking and Job Skills
The San José State University School of Information is home to a number of student chapters of professional organizations who are winning awards while helping graduate students make professional connections and acquire the skills they need to be successful for careers in the information profession.
Current students in the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) and Master of Archives and Records Administration (MARA) degree programs can choose to join student chapters of the American Library Association (ALA), Society of American Archivists (SAA), the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T), and the Special Libraries Association (SLA), all of which have been recognized for their leadership and programming.
ALA Student Chapter
The SJSU student chapter of the ALA (ALASC) is the only student chapter of the national organization to win the prestigious “Student Chapter of the Year Award” a record four times, most recently in 2014. The group hosts a number of events throughout the year including job panels, virtual social hours, in-person happy hours, ALA election information sessions, and online discussions. Online events are recorded, so that students who cannot attend the live sessions can still access the valuable information presented. The iSchool Descriptor, ALASC’s newsletter, is published quarterly and features articles, book reviews, and other written and visual material by SJSU students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
All currently enrolled students at the SJSU School of Information are automatically members of ALASC, and current Chair Perlita Payne stated that membership in the group is a great benefit to students. “ALASC is a great place to get experience in leadership and collaboration. It is student-centered, student-driven, and it’s excellent for networking and getting evidence for [MLIS-required] competency M,” said Payne. Christina Gibson, ALASC social media manager, agreed with her, adding that the group is especially valuable to students in 100 percent online programs such as those at SJSU. “ALASC allows students to not only remain updated on school events, but to stay connected to their peers in spite of the distance inherent in online learning,” explained Gibson.
SAA Student Chapter
Helping students connect in both online and virtual settings is also a goal of the SJSU student chapter of the SAA (SAASC). SAASC Vice Chair Jason Baker noted, “I believe that SAASC is valuable for SJSU iSchool students because it provides networking and social gathering opportunities in both real world and virtual world environments. I first started working with SAASC as the events coordinator and I really enjoyed finding ways to make our experiences at the iSchool more connected.”
Membership in the SJSU SAASC is free, and is open to all MLIS and MARA students. As SAASC Chair Paige Minister explained, “SAASC is a unique group in that it brings together both MLIS and MARA students to share ideas, learn more about the archival profession, and build a sense of community among the archival students.” The group sponsors a number of unique online and real-world events, including tours of archives and online discussions with working archivists. Recently, SAASC presented a webinar with Meredith Lowe, the creator of the Archives Gig website featuring job information and opportunities for archivists.
ASIS&T Student Chapter
The student chapter of ASIS&T also hosts a number of events geared toward helping students connect with other students and working professionals, learn about key professional issues, and gain important skills for the various careers available to those interested in information and technology. In March 2015, the group sponsored a webinar with Kevin Smith of Duke University on the topic of copyright and digital technology, and another with iSchool Associate Professor Dr. Lili Luo discussing research methods in library and information science education and practice. For April 2015, the group has planned a membership open house, an executive meeting open to everyone, a pre-registration social hour, and a webinar with iSchool Lecturer Patty Wong entitled, “Grant Writing and Alternative Funding for All.”
Marisa Martinez, the treasurer of the SJSU ASIS&T student chapter, explained that getting involved with ASIS&T has been a rewarding part of her experience at the SJSU iSchool. “I have enjoyed my involvement in the ASIS&T SJSU student chapter, planning and hosting Collaborate events with SJSU faculty speakers,” said Martinez.
The SJSU ASIS&T student chapter has also won its fair share of awards in the short time since it established its charter. In 2012, the student group was named the ASIS&T Student Chapter of the Year, and in 2014 Jeremy McLaughlin, the current executive committee chair, was named an ASIS&T New Leader for 2014-2016.
SLA Student Chapter
The SJSU SLA student chapter (SLASC) has also been recognized for its leadership and programming recently. In August 2014, SLASC was awarded three SLA Certificates of Merit by the international organization in the following areas: Creative Use of Electronic Resources, Outstanding Leadership, and Innovative Programming.
SLASC draws members from a very diverse field of information professions. According to current SLASC President Basia Delawska-Elliot, “A look at SLA divisions gives a glimpse at the richness of choices. You can find anything from medical, art and law to materials, maps and aerospace engineering. Many special librarians have successful independent careers in competitive intelligence, user experience, digital asset management or IT consulting, to name a few.”
In order to introduce students to the myriad career options for special librarians, SLASC hosts a number of special events and webinars including the “Adventures in Librarianship” series which features special librarians from various organizations discussing issues, skills, and tips for jobs their field. Law librarianship is the subject of the group’s May 2015 webinar, and past webinars have featured art librarianship and medical librarianship.
Membership in SLASC is free and, according to Delawska-Elliott, not only helps students further their careers in special librarianship, but also gives students a way to contribute to the success of their school and their profession. “Becoming active in any student organization, including our SLA group,” stated Delawska-Elliott, “is a great way to get involved with the iSchool community and to give back to the community through bringing meaningful programming, engaging in school activities, and raising the school’s visibility in the profession at large.”
Jennifer Dinalo, president of iSchool Connext, the newly renamed student and alumni group of the School of Information, agreed that getting involved in student groups is an extremely valuable part of the student experience at SJSU. “In an online program it can be a challenge to feel connected to your school or fellow students,” said Dinalo. By joining student groups, she was able to begin building a library network and forge important relationships for her professional future. “Getting involved in student groups is always my advice to students because you never know how your network will affect your future,” added Dinalo.
For more information on student groups at the iSchool, and to find links to all student group websites, visit the SJSU School of Information student group web page.