iSchool Hosts Community Impact Poster Session during 2018 ALA Annual


Graduate students and alumni of the San José State University School of Information will be showcasing their research projects, community programs, innovative ideas, and professional experiences at a poster session held during the upcoming annual conference of the American Library Association.

The poster session will coincide with the iSchool’s networking reception scheduled for 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 23, 2018, at Mulate’s Restaurant Teche Room in New Orleans. The reception is open to all ALA Annual attendees, and iSchool alumni, students, faculty and friends are especially encouraged to attend.

“Our receptions at national and state conferences are a great venue for our current students and alumni to share their own stories and to be able to personally network with the larger LIS community who frequently attend our iSchool events,” said Sheila Gurtu, iSchool online student advisor.

Gurtu came up with the idea of hosting a poster session after she presented for the first time at a statewide higher education conference. The experience inspired her to “create more presentation opportunities for current students and alumni.” Working in collaboration with staff and faculty members, Gurtu started organizing the event and publicizing it to current students and alumni in November 2017.

The deadline to sign up for the poster session was last month, and Gurtu confirmed 10 current students and alumni will be presenting on the theme of “Community Impact” to complement a video series that features the remarkable work iSchool alumni are doing in their communities.

One of the current students presenting is the winner of the Gwinnett County Public Library’s Innovative Librarians Award, which the iSchool co-sponsored. Eké Williams will share his Documentary Photography Bootcamp, a project he formed in collaboration with the Brooklyn Public Library and Brooklyn Information and Culture Arts, a Brooklyn-based media organization, to address “youth disconnection.”

This will be the first time Williams is attending ALA Annual, and he feels fortunate to have the opportunity to express the impact of his work on young lives in the community he serves. “From presenting this poster at ALA, I’m sure I will gain exposure to experienced professionals who have already innovated and contributed to our industry. This type of exposure will benefit future partnerships and initiatives,” said Williams.

iSchool Director Dr. Sandra Hirsh couldn’t agree more, emphasizing the many benefits of presenting. “This opportunity gives our students and alumni presentation experience in a supportive environment and through a non-competitive process. They will hone their presentation skills, build their resumes, and possibly meet potential collaborators or employers.”

Hirsh also referenced the iSchool’s recently published MLIS Skills at Work jobs analysis that revealed the most in-demand skill set across all jobs was communication/interpersonal skills. “Employers are looking for applicants who have the kind of skills that an experience like this can provide,” Hirsh stressed. 

Understanding that this presentation opportunity may be the first for many, Gurtu and iSchool Professor Dr. Anthony Bernier set to put nerves at ease and co-hosted an optional online workshop that provided some pointers. “Dr. Bernier shared communication tips for success as a presenter, background information on the role of poster sessions in the LIS profession, and ideas about effective poster layout and design,” explained Gurtu.

The session was “very useful,” according to first-time presenter Kejo Buchanan, a student in the Master of Library and Information Science degree program, who will be discussing globalization and marginalized communities during the poster session. “The process has been a pleasurable learning experience. As advisors, both Sheila Gurtu and Dr. Bernier have offered guidance and tools to ease the design process and event expectations,” Buchanan affirmed.

In addition to providing a presentation workshop, the iSchool offered to print and pay for the posters to alleviate any financial barrier to participation. “We strive to provide support in any way we can through scholarships, travel funds to attend professional conferences, and other means. Having experience greatly improves job prospects,” said Hirsh.

The poster session is considered a pilot event that may lead to future poster sessions. Gurtu said she is already thinking of hosting a poster session at the iSchool’s networking reception being planned for the California Library Association Conference in Santa Clara, CA this November.

For more information about the “Community Impact” poster session at ALA Annual or future conferences like CLA in November, please contact the iSchool Student Services team at  

Community Impact Poster Session Confirmed Presenters:

  • Stephanie Barnaby, ’18 MLIS
    Rachel Silverstein ’18 MLIS
    Engaging with ALA as a Student
  • Kejo Buchanan, MLIS Student
    Global Knowledge: Information Professional Partnership with Marginalized Communities
  • Catherine Davenport, MLIS Student
    The Impact of Certified School Librarians on Student Achievement in Unified School Districts in Arizona
  • Kalan Knudson Davis, ’16 MLIS
    Mapping Immigrant Churches across America Utilizing Resources from the Immigration History Research Center Archives, University of Minnesota
  • David Fournier, ’17 MLIS, Digital Assets Certificate Student
    Digital Literacy        
  • Katherine Go, MLIS Student
    Working as an Art and Architecture Docent, Los Angeles Public Library
  • Kelly Pollard, MLIS Student
    SJSU iSchool Student Research Journal
  • Eké Williams, MLIS Student 
    Documentary Photography Bootcamp (Photography for Teens), Brooklyn Public Library and Brooklyn Information and Culture Arts
  • Reina Williams, ’14 Post-Master’s Certificate
    Mentoring Information Science Students and Recent Graduates to Promote Diversity and Inclusion, Illinois Library Association and Rush University Medical Center