SJSU iSchool Faculty Present at Prestigious IFLA Conference in France


Sharing their expertise on MOOCS and reference services with a global audience of information professionals, several members of the faculty at the SJSU iSchool participated in the IFLA 80th General Conference and Assembly.

Sharing their expertise with a global audience of information professionals, several members of the faculty at the San José State University (SJSU) School of Information participated in the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) 80th General Conference and Assembly, held in Lyon, France from Aug. 16, 2014 to Aug. 22, 2014.

Dr. Sandra Hirsh and Dr. Michael Stephens discussed the use of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for professional development, and Dr. Lili Luo presented her research on how reference librarians handle ethical dilemmas at work. Stephens and Luo also participated in sessions at the education summit utilizing inspiring five-minute Ignite sessions.

MOOCs have been a topic of high interest, especially since IFLA recently mentioned the courses in their trend report. Hirsh introduced the IFLA session, “MOOCs: Opportunities and Challenges for Librarians.” Stephens then presented some of his findings from his ongoing research of the iSchool’s Hyperlinked Library MOOC.

Audience members were particularly interested in Stephens’ findings about the potential for MOOCs. “The panel in France was also about the broader idea that large scale learning is something that information professionals should be using, and about how it supports professional development,” said Stephens.

Luo’s presentation on reference ethics was given at the pre-conference satellite meeting organized by the IFLA Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE). On her blog, Luo said that although she sees ethics as a “critical topic” in the teaching of reference and information services, she had difficulty finding current research on the subject. “I decided to conduct a survey study to explore how reference librarians handle ethical dilemmas at work,” explained Luo. “The findings were very illuminating—I shared them in a 20-minute presentation, and then a 40-minute discussion ensued among the audience.” Luo’s paper on ethical dilemmas faced by reference librarians will be published in a conference proceeding put together by FAIFE.

Luo and Stephens also both enjoyed the opportunity to participate in an Ignite session at the IFLA education summit, “Library and Information Education and Training: Confluence of Past and Present Toward a Strong Future.” Both faculty members presented at a session imagining what library and information science (LIS) education might look like in the future. Stephens explained that he did his “LIS Education in 2050” presentation with a colleague from Denmark, Jan Holmquist, as a sort of “back-and-forth discussion between professor and practitioner.”

Luo said that the Ignite format can be challenging since “it’s very fast paced. You only have five minutes, and the slides auto-advance every 15 seconds.” Luo’s imaginative presentation focused on what a young woman studying LIS in 2050 might experience, and on her blog she credits the success of the presentation to “the power of storytelling.”

Both professors were pleased with their experiences at the well-organized conference in France. According to Stephens, “There were common threads throughout all the presentations. Everything really flowed perfectly between sessions.” Luo, who has attended other IFLA conferences, added that “the volunteers were the best I have seen in all my IFLA experience.”

According to Luo, a highlight of the conference sessions and satellite meetings was the chance to connect with other information professionals. “I enjoyed the opportunities to meet LIS professionals and researchers from around the world,” said Luo, “and it’s great to expand my connections and increase the potential for research collaboration.”

Hirsh, Stephens, and Luo have made slides of their presentations available via SlideShare.

Related Content:

  • View a schedule of upcoming faculty presentations on the Center for Information Research and Innovation (CIRI), the iSchool’s virtual research center