iSchool Students and Alumni Showcase their Community Impact


Ten San José State University School of Information students and alumni presented posters on their projects and research during the American Library Association’s 2018 annual conference in New Orleans.

Inspired by her experience presenting at a state higher education conference, iSchool Online Student Advisor Sheila Gurtu organized the poster session to “create more presentation opportunities for current students and alumni.”

The theme of “community impact” was selected, and Gurtu enlisted Dr. Anthony Bernier to host an online workshop to prepare participants with advice on presentation, layout and design, and event expectations.

The following students and alumni showcased posters:

  • Stephanie Barnaby, ’18 MLIS and 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
  • 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
  • Kalan Knudson Davis, ’16 MLIS – Mapping Immigrant Churches across America Utilizing Resources from the Immigration History Research Center Archives, University of Minnesota
  • 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 Cente

Buchanan’s poster highlighted the collection, dissemination and preservation of global knowledge, including the issues, terminology, analysis, recommendations and examples of partnership in marginalized communities.

As a Canadian, she noted an immediate in-person advantage was connecting with those at the reception, as well as other national and international visitors and presenters at the conference and social events.

“I was able to briefly chat open data with and photograph alongside Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden and Emilio Estevez, film director of ‘The Public,’ as well as listen to former First Lady Michelle Obama and ‘triple crown’ actress Viola Davis promote their latest books,” she said.

Representing the Student Research Journal, Pollard said attending the preparatory online informational session hosted by Gurtu and Bernier helped alleviate her feelings of intimidation over the poster session.

“The support from the iSchool was spectacular. Dr. Bernier and Sheila calmed by nerves and went over such basics as how to stand in front of the poster while engaging people on my topic. I felt so prepared,” she said.

While in New Orleans, Pollard was able to connect with fellow presenters and learned about their current research. She also met past professors and classmates in the program.

“I was able to share information about SRJ, a topic I am so passionate about, and received positive feedback. I truly felt like I was a part of the SJSU community that night,” she said.

According to a post-event survey of poster presenters, 100% said they were satisfied with their poster and presentation. For example, one presenter affirmed, “The personal and professional development outcome of sharing, networking and learning other research approaches and findings was more than satisfactory.”

The experience also helped them achieve their goals, such as enhance their resumes, polish their presentation skills, build their confidence, share their ideas, make new connections, and learn. Many echoed this sentiment expressed in the survey comments: “During my presentation, I met with a lot of faculty and professionals from all over the country. Their feedback and support was the most encouraging of anything I’ve ever heard.”

Fournier shared his experience in a blog post for the American Library Association Student Chapter. This was the first time he attended ALA Annual and appreciated the networking opportunities. “The SJSU reception was well attended and I heard about research from several other SJSU students. I also would like to thank Sheila Gurtu for the chance to present my research on Digital Literacy,” he wrote.

The iSchool will be hosting another poster session at the California Library Association’s annual conference on November 10, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara, California.

A call for poster presenters encourages iSchool students and alumni to share the results of a project or research with potential collaborators. Possible presentation topics include information instruction, assessment and evaluation, diversity and outreach, literacy, emerging technology, research, digital curation, grants, internships, and more.

To become a presenter, sign up by October 12 on the iSchool Google form. Participants do not need to register for the CLA conference to present or attend the school’s reception. The event will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the hotel’s Napa room.