School of Information Students Set Bar High with Scholarships and Publications


Even before graduating from the SJSU School of Information’s MLIS program, students Denise Lester and Basia Delawska-Elliott are making their mark on the information profession and reaping the rewards of their hard work.

Even before graduating from the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree program at the San José State University (SJSU) School of Information (iSchool), students Denise Lester and Basia Delawska-Elliott are making their mark on the information profession and reaping the rewards of their hard work. Both students recently received scholarships to subsidize their studies, and Delawska-Elliott has already published two articles in library and information science (LIS) journals.

Scholarships Recognize Students’ Talents

Lester is currently working as a library assistant at Haworth Municipal Library in northern New Jersey where she performs a number of tasks including circulation duties, book repair, inter-library loan requests, processing and linking new magazines, and much more. Lester has a background in early childhood education, and so in the absence of a children’s librarian, she also conducts toddler storytime. Last year, she also started a Spanish toddler program at her library.

Hoping to become a youth services librarian when she graduates, Lester is also active in the Bergen County Cooperative Library Services (BCCLS) Friends group, and helped organize a coat drive for a local charity. Her library programs and local charitable activities have allowed her to reach out to community members and also increase her library’s impact.

Lester’s efforts on behalf of her local library and community have not gone unnoticed. In addition to receiving the Caroline M. Hewins Scholarship for children’s librarianship from the Hartford Public Library, the BCCLS Friends announced that Lester had been chosen to receive one of two 2015 BCCLS scholarships for library employees pursuing MLIS degrees. When she found out that she had won the award, Lester, who had struggled to find her niche before joining the field of library and information science, was thrilled and highly gratified. “Winning the Mary Joyce Doyle BCCLS Scholarship was more than a monetary award,” she explained, “but an affirmation that I had made the right decision and was finally where I belonged.”

Delawska-Elliott was also excited to find out she had won a Gail Fullerton Endowment Scholarship from SJSU to support her graduate studies. “I applied for it after receiving an email from the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office,” she commented. “I had received those emails before, but had not paid any attention to them. This time, however, the email caught my eye. I decided to apply and was fortunate enough to be awarded a scholarship!”

The award is all the more meaningful to Delawska-Elliott because Dr. Gail Fullerton was the first woman and first SJSU faculty member to become president of the university.

Student Groups Support Student Achievement

No one who knows Delawska-Elliott is surprised that she was chosen for the prestigious SJSU scholarship. In addition to being president of the SJSU iSchool’s Special Libraries Association student chapter (SLASC), she works as a medical librarian at Providence Health and Services in Portland, Oregon. She presented a paper with colleague Heather Martin at the Medical Libraries Association (MLA) annual conference in 2014, and has published two articles in academic journals in the past year.

The first article, which she co-authored with Martin, formed the basis of her presentation at the MLA conference. SLASC faculty advisor and SJSU iSchool lecturer, Dr. Cheryl Dee, attended the presentation and was so intrigued that she suggested the authors develop their ideas in another paper on marketing and medical libraries. The resulting paper, which is Delawska-Elliott’s first as lead author, can be accessed through the SJSU Martin Luther King, Jr. Library.

For Delawska-Elliott, her experiences demonstrate the value of the SJSU iSchool’s student groups. “Dr. Dee is a wonderful mentor and this chain of events was a perfect example of how students can benefit from involvement with student groups, such as SLASC,” she stated. “If students are wondering if student groups are worth the effort, I encourage them to think about how working with faculty members who are leaders in their field, collaborating closely with other dedicated students, and honing their leadership skills through engagement in executive committees can help them develop a network of peers and mentors that will aid them in landing their dream job.”

Both Lester and Delawska-Elliott have bright futures ahead, as their accomplishments and awards demonstrate so auspiciously. Congratulations on your achievements!

SJSU iSchool students are encouraged to share their news by submitting a short form on the school’s website.