Three New Courses Expand Student Learning and Increase Program Customization


The Master of Library and Information Science curriculum at the San José State University School of Information continues to be a top strength of the online master’s degree program, according to surveys of recent graduates.

Contributing to this success is the iSchool’s cohort of Program Advisory Committees, which align with career pathways and are in place to ensure the MLIS curriculum stays current, especially important in the rapidly evolving information profession.

The iSchool administration, in collaboration with the PAC members, develops new courses regularly and recently added three new courses to the MLIS program: INFO 220-12 Resources and Information Services in Professions and Disciplines Topic: Data Services in Libraries, INFO 220-13 Visual Resources Curation and Arts Librarianship, and INFO 284-12 Curating Exhibitions from Archival Collections.

INFO 220-12 Resources and Information Services in Professions and Disciplines Topic: Data Services in Libraries was offered by the iSchool for the first time this summer, and is taught by by Kate Saylor and Rachel Woodbrook, both practicing librarians at the University of Michigan.

The three-unit course offers an introduction to supporting data literacy and quantitative and qualitative research through data services in library settings. Topics addressed include: What counts as data? What are the range of data services offered in libraries, and what is the library’s role in supporting data literacy and research? What factors are important for those considering a career in library data services to take into account? And what might a critical approach to ethics in data services look like?

“As practicing librarians, we were very excited to bring our experience with data services in libraries into the classroom and engage with students around what the field looks like, and what is needed for success in the field,” they said. “This course would be particularly useful for students considering careers involving data in libraries.”

Saylor is an informationist at the Taubman Health Sciences Library, School of Nursing, School of Public Health’s Health Behavior and Health Education department, and the Office of Public Health Practice. Woodbrook, who received her MLIS and MA in Museology from the University of Washington, and a BA in English Literature and Latin from Seattle Pacific University, is the University of Michigan’s Data Curation Librarian—she manages Deep Blue, UM’s digital research data preservation repository.

Saylor and Woodbrook were pleased with the results of the initial course. “It was very satisfying to see students connect their own experiences with the course material, and to see some students move from feeling intimidated about data to realizing that many of the skills they are already developing are applicable and extensible for data services.” The students also got to hear from practicing professionals from various types of institutions who shared their experiences and advice.

INFO 220-13 Resources and Information Services in the Disciplines and Professions Visual Resources Curation and Arts Librarianship is a two-unit course offered for the first time during the fall semester. Taught by Maggie Murphy, the course provides an overview of visual resources and arts information professions, including visual resources curation, art and design school librarianship, academic liaison librarianship, and museum librarianship.

Murphy, an assistant professor and humanities librarian at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, received her MLIS from Rutgers University in 2012 and has worked in visual resources curation and reference at academic libraries in New York and Georgia.

“I have designed this brand-new course to address both ongoing and developing conversations about skills, technologies, and dispositions pertinent to a range of roles in art information professions,” Murphy said.

“I hope my students enjoy this discussion-focused approach, which requires both active and reflective engagement with course materials and activities, including contributing to a class blog, interviewing practitioners, conducting art research consultations, creating catalog descriptions for visual resources, and analyzing digital image collections.”

The course gives students the opportunity to explore the history, background, and core competencies for describing, organizing, and providing access to visual materials in all media and information about fine arts, design, architecture, and related fields—for the final project, each student maps out an emerging topic in the field to present to their classmates.

“Anyone interested in working in art museum libraries, art and design school librarians, academic liaison librarianship to art history and architecture departments, visual resources curation in visual arts programs, or special libraries related to visual arts or with significant image resources should consider taking the class,” she said.

INFO 284-12 Curating Exhibitions from Archival Collections, is taught by Leigh Gleason, director of collections at UCR ARTS, a museum, contemporary art gallery, and arts center. Gleason oversees the collections of the California Museum of Photography and its photographs, cameras, negatives, books, and archival collections all relating to the history of photography, as well as the Sweeney Art Gallery of contemporary art made primarily in Southern California.

Gleason’s work as a curator helped shape the design of the new course, which was added to the fall schedule. “As an exhibition curator, I develop the exhibition’s concept and argument, select objects for exhibition, write all the texts used in the exhibition, and plan the layout.” Gleason holds a PhD in Visual History from De Montfort University, an MLIS in Archival Studies from San José State University, and an MA in the History of Art from UC Riverside, where she was trained as a photographic historian.

“Looking beyond simply photographs opens up new possibilities—and I really look forward to seeing where students go with their project ideas,” Gleason said. “I’m someone who loves going to museums and looking at exhibitions, so it’s really a joy for me to see each project, and see students’ interests and passions shine through in their work.”

The work required for the two-unit course is independent, with a strong emphasis on discussion. Students are taken through the process of creating an exhibition by selecting exhibition topics based on their own interests, crafting exhibition proposals, and devising exhibitions consisting of approximately 20 to 30 items and accompanying texts.

While this class focuses on archival collections, Gleason is confident that its applicability extends beyond archival holdings, and noted that writing short texts, as one does for an exhibition, is “a craft to be honed, and this class will help sharpen those skills. Whether used in public library readers advisories displays, libguides, or even social media marketing, the skills addressed in this class should translate well in our broader field.”

For more information about the MLIS curriculum, visit the program’s web page