‘Champion of Libraries’ Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., to Deliver Convocation Speech at iSchool’s Virtual Graduation Celebration

Julius C. Jefferson, Jr.

Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., section head of research and library services at the Library of Congress, will deliver the convocation speech to students graduating from the San José State University School of Information. The virtual graduation celebration will be held on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

“I am honored to be the 2020 SJSU commencement speaker and look forward to addressing the new graduates as they join me in this rewarding profession of serving our communities and championing libraries,” stated Jefferson, Jr.

Jefferson, Jr., who completed his B.A. in History from Howard University and later earned an MLS from the University of Maryland with a concentration in Museums and Archival studies, is the American Library Association president-elect, and will serve as ALA president 2020-2021 at the close of the 2020 ALA Conference in Chicago. He has held a seat on the board of the Freedom to Read Foundation, serving as the president from 2013 - 2016; served as president of the District of Columbia Library Association; and served on the board of the Black Caucus of the ALA.

In his current position as the section head of research and library services in the Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division at Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, Jefferson, Jr., leads research librarians who provide public policy research and assistance exclusively to members of Congress, congressional committees and staffers.  

Throughout his career, Jefferson, Jr. has consistently advocated for increased library funding and information policies that allow access to information for all, and established himself as a staunch champion of libraries and library workers. Often sought as a speaker on library-related issues, such as diversity, leadership and professional development, Jefferson Jr. has appeared on a number of media outlets, including National Public Radio, and is co-editor of The 21st-Century Black Librarian in America: Issues and Challenges. Recognizing his potential to inspire and motivate new graduates, iSchool Director Sandra Hirsh invited Jefferson Jr. to deliver the virtual convocation speech.

Virtual Graduation Website

Each year the SJSU School of Information creates an online graduation website that features graduate profiles and an audio degree presentation. Graduates are invited to answer a few optional questions about their grad school experience. December 2019 graduates like Alejandra Alfaro, Jason Brad Kinsella, and Naomi Pavan have been busy creating their profiles.

Alfaro shared in her profile that she wanted to earn a Master of Library and Information Science  degree to advance her existing career in librarianship. “It has always been a dream of mine to work with teens as a librarian,” she said. Alfaro appreciated that the iSchool’s online learning environment gave her the flexibility to work full time, while attending school part time, and she enjoyed being able to choose from a variety of electives. She plans to use her MLIS degree to become a teen librarian, and looks forward to helping teens and young adults achieve their goals.

Eager to share his passion for the field of librarianship, Kinsella wants “to be part of our collective mission to connect communities with information and services.” He saw the iSchool’s online environment as an opportunity to work with people from all over the globe; while in the program, he met classmates from his home state of California, as well as from Europe, China and Russia. Kinsella commented that he plans to use his degree to work in school, public and academic libraries.

Pavan explained in her profile that she decided to earn her MLIS degree because she wanted “a career in librarianship, not just a job.” Engagement with other students was a highlight of her experience at the iSchool. “Their range in professional experiences, personal experiences, and ages contributed to creating a unique learning environment,” she wrote. Pavan plans to obtain a position that enables her “to be a change-maker in the information profession.”

Fellow students, alumni, faculty, family and friends are encouraged to post messages to the graduates on their profiles, much like a yearbook.

The virtual ceremony for all iSchool graduates from academic year 2019/2020 will take place on May 19, 2020, at 5 p.m. Pacific Time, allowing family and friends to join the celebration synchronously online. The iSchool’s virtual convocation is separate from the university’s official commencement held on-site in San José, Calif.