iSchool Students and Alumni Showcase Community Impact at 2019 CLA Poster Session
Poster Session Builds Presentation Skills, Confidence and Network


The San José State University School of Information sponsored its fourth community poster session featuring alumni and student presenters during the California Library Association’s annual conference, held in October 2019. A gallery of the poster presentations from the CLA session and past sessions highlights the important work iSchool alumni and students are doing in their communities.

LeadershipMaster of Library and Information Science program student Channon Arabit’s poster focused on her work with the iSchool Web Team and her experience as webmaster with the iSchool’s ASIS&T Student Chapter and the First Generation Students Group. “I chose this topic because I was interested in web programming and information architecture throughout the program, and I was able to have some first-hand experiences through the school and its student organizations,” said Arabit. “With that in mind, I thought it would be great to share my experiences at the 2019 CLA Poster Session.”

Arabit’s biggest takeaway from the presentation was how important networking is. “Since the program is primarily online, it is nice to put faces to those that I regularly contact online,” she said. “The presentation not only gives you the opportunity to share what you have done throughout the program, but also connect with others on a professional level, which is invaluable.”

Image from Hayden Birkett's posterHayden Birkett’s poster, “HERE, QUEER AND UNDERSERVED” showed how LGBTQIA+ youth, considered an “invisible” demographic, are underserved in libraries across America. “I chose this topic for a large research paper for the spring 2019 semester, which was chosen for the 2019 iSchool Student Showcase,” said Birkett, an MLIS student who currently works as a library technician in Southern California. “The topic is near and dear to my heart as a queer woman, and I am doing everything I can to raise awareness of queer youth and their needs within libraries,” she said.

Networking with colleagues and discussing solutions to the issue posed in her research was Birkett’s favorite part of the session. “My biggest takeaway from the presentation was that there is so much we can do together as librarians, and there are many people who are interested in helping solve the crisis of at-risk LGBTQIA+ youth being served in libraries,” she said.

MLIS student Matthew Grills was midway through his first semester in the MLIS program when he participated in the poster session. In creating, “Using Audience Response Systems (ARS) to Enhance Story Time,” Grills drew inspiration from his former career teaching English as a Second Language in Korea. “I used ARS to engage students who might not ‘speak up’ in a group or give answers that trended toward ‘groupthink’ (answering like their peers around them),” he explained. “An ARS allows for anonymous answering and opens up greater freedom. I envisioned using this in a story time environment in a children’s library setting to allow participants to be actively engaged with the story being told.” 

Participating in the poster session and having a platform to demonstrate the application of ARS within a library was a new experience for Grills. “It exceeded my goals of exploring this option for implementing such a system, and I was excited to see the enthusiasm of those I spoke with about including it in their libraries or in other functions,” he reflected.

Matthew Grills' Poster Core Question “My favorite part was not simply sharing about my use of an ARS, but how colleagues actually turned my thoughts to other uses within the library setting,” said Grills. “I was inspired to shift some of the use of the ARS to community meetings or other settings where librarians and administrators would want to receive feedback on services, allowing everyone to have a voice. Interacting with the participants not only reaffirmed my own research for the story time setting, but spurred me on to think about other uses.”

Helping others access information they need in a clear and concise manner “that removes the static and mystery that is often created by information services (too much information that gives them a fuzzy answer),” was among Grills’ top takeaways of the poster session, as was professional validation. “I am pursuing a great field, and the poster session encouraged me in reaffirming that I am making the right choice in pursuing this passion as a career,” he said.

In a follow-up survey sent to participants, 90% indicated this was their first presentation at a professional library and information science conference, and 100% said they were satisfied with the experience. The poster session is designed to help students develop their presentation skills in a supportive environment. A poster preparation online presentation is made available to participants, along with a poster template. The iSchool also handles the printing of the posters and set up at the venue.

The iSchool will host the next Community Impact Poster Session at its networking reception during the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago. Alumni and students are encouraged to share their projects, research and programs by signing up to present. The deadline to sign up is April 30, 2020. Everyone is invited to attend the reception scheduled from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. (CDT) on June 27, and is kindly asked to RSVP.