iSchool Virtual Yearbook – Spring 2022

GSAC would like to congratulate all students who completed the program this spring! To celebrate, we’ve compiled a Virtual Yearbook. To watch the video, please click here or below. PDF slides (with links to professional profiles) are also available

Please join us in wishing all graduating students the very best in their next chapter. We can’t wait to see how you all shape the world of information! (Be sure to connect with other iSchool colleagues in the KSU iSchool Connection on LinkedIn and Alumni Network on Facebook).

8 Great LIS Podcasts

Want to add a little entertainment and enlightenment to household chores? We’ve gathered 8 library and information science-related podcasts that are worthy of a listen. Grab your earbuds/AirPods and give them a try while washing dishes or walking around the neighborhood. Have other recommendations? Please share them in the comments below.

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  • Call Number
    American Libraries Senior Editor Phil Morehart interviews librarians, authors, thinkers, and scholars about topics from the library world and beyond. Recent episodes have explored everything from library architecture to zombies.
  • Book Riot Podcasts
    Book Riot offers nine podcasts about books, including Adaptation Nation (page-to-screen adaptations); Hey Ya (young adult literature);  SFF Yeah! (science fiction and fantasy); and Read or Dead (mystery and thrillers). 
  • Circulating Ideas
    In the Circulating Ideas podcast, Steve Thomas interviews innovative people and ideas inspiring libraries to grow and thrive in the 21st century. Notable guests have included David Lankes and Nancy Pearl.

  • The Librarian is In
    Every other week, New York Public Library’s Crystal Chen and Frank Collerius discuss what they’re reading, pop culture and the world of libraries. Crystal is the Young Adult Librarian at the Woodstock branch in the Bronx, and Frank is the manager of the Jefferson Market Library in Greenwich Village.
  • Book Club for Masochists
    This readers’ advisory podcast invites library staff to read every genre, whether they like it or not. Each month, they read and discuss a different, randomly selected genre. This month, they’re reading Amish romance.

  • School Librarians United
    Amy Hermon’s podcast is dedicated to the nuts and bolts of running a successful school library.

  • Library Leadership Podcast
    The Library Leadership Podcast features library leaders discussing important issues. It’s hosted by Adriane Herrick Juarez, Executive Director of the Park City Library in Utah. Recent topics include morale and trauma-informed service.

  • Professional Book Nerds
    Join Overdrive staff for book recommendations, author interviews and all things books. The PBN team invites you to try its 2022 book challenge, which includes prompts like “Read a classic book that you weren’t assigned in high school” and “Read a 2021 debut that you didn’t read in 2021.”

iSchool Virtual Yearbook – Fall 2021

GSAC would like to congratulate all students who completed the program this fall! To celebrate, we’ve compiled a Virtual Yearbook. To watch the video, please click here or below. PDF slides (with links to professional profiles) are also available

Please join us in wishing all graduating students the very best in their next chapter. We can’t wait to see how you all shape the world of information! (Be sure to connect with other iSchool colleagues in the KSU iSchool Connection on LinkedIn and Alumni Network on Facebook).

Literature Reviews: Making the Case for Your Research

Many of us are nearing the time of the semester for final projects and research proposals. Some of that work involves reviewing research articles, either to inform a planned study or to summarize a body of literature. Although there are plenty of great resources out there, I wanted to share my own top 5 thoughts and tips about what makes for a well-structured literature review.

  1. The original research process makes or break the review: (Yes, you read that numbering correctly.) Although this isn’t part of the top 5, it’s foundational to the whole process. Hopefully your original search for conceptual papers and empirical research articles has been thorough and current. Even if you don’t use everything you find, keep it; you at least have it in your back pocket if you find you should need it. Library databases are great resources, and Google Scholar is even more user-friendly and flexible. Check the reference sections of articles you know you’re citing, and you’re likely to be able to chain references to pull together the entire research landscape on your chosen topic.
  2. A literature review is a persuasive argument: You’re making a case to your audience. You’re demonstrating that you’re familiar with the research that’s been done in a given area to show that you’re a credible researcher. You’re telling a story that the folks you are citing are relevant to your research by incorporating their findings and insights with your own ideas. You’re convincing your readers that your research is built upon, and belongs alongside, the papers you’re citing.
  3. Build themes: Literature reviews are not meant to be chronological, rote lists of facts from previous research strung together. Group things together as they are useful to constructing your argument. Some articles may be cited because they relate to your subject matter or topic; some are good for supporting or explaining a theory or a model; some are significant for their findings or outcomes; and some discuss the use of appropriate research methods.
  4. Use organizational and visualization tools: Get yourself out of word processing mode. Whether you use a spreadsheet, a flow diagram, a chart, or a visual outline, group together the articles you want to use based on their usefulness or their strong points. Visualizations help you see the themes and clusters of ideas from your personal database of articles. You’ll be able to see the progress of your argument as if it were a roadmap and move things around, if needed, to make more sense.
  5. Mix and match your citations: There is no rule that an article can’t be cited as many times as warranted. Let’s say you found a great article that explicates theory well, has relevant findings, and solid methods. Be sure to cite it within all those themes or clusters where it helps to build your case. I use the metaphor of packing a bag for a trip when you have limited space. You have a shirt that looks good enough to wear to dinner or brunch the next morning. Use your options and let articles do double or triple duty.
  6. Think of your review as a funnel: Once you have the building blocks in the form of your themes or clusters, put them in order from the most general to the least general to hone your argument. For instance, let’s say I’m applying a theory to study a user population like graduate students in LIS. First, I’ll want to talk about studies that have used the theory more generally, then touch on how the theory had been applied to other larger or generic user populations (adults, schoolchildren, undergraduates), and then cite specific research about how it had been applied to graduate students, but in other fields like sociology and engineering. As a result, you’re leading your reader down the path to help them see how the whole research landscape narrows down to your specific interest, which, as you can tell from the lack of research, addresses a research gap.

Most importantly, to write a good literature review, I would encourage you to be a good observer and reader of research literature. Find those review section examples that are clear and persuasive, such that they make it easy to follow where they’re going. You’ll notice how good literature reviews guide you through previous research by hitting relevant landmarks and signposts, so you can anticipate where they’re headed. If they hadn’t already introduced it (and they should have), you can see their research question coming based on the course and structure of the review. You’ll also know how they want to study their question based on the themes they’ve funneled down to, which show how their study fits into the specific research gap that they want to address.

Networking and volunteering your way to success

Once upon a time, when I was about 30, I decided that I wanted to be a librarian when I grew up. I had received advice from numerous sources that when it came to getting a job, experience was more important than education. For about a year, I applied to all of the entry-level library positions that were posted in my city. All four of them. Clearly, that wasn’t going to get me anywhere – so I enrolled at Kent State to get started on my MLIS.

I was grappling with the age-old career conundrum: you need experience to get a job, but how can you get experience if you can’t get a job? So I decided to try volunteering to gain some experience. At first, I attempted to get in with the public library as it seemed like the most obvious option. Unfortunately, the few opportunities they had didn’t work with my schedule. That’s when I remembered the Bible college associated with my church. They had a library. Maybe they would want a volunteer?

I wish I could say that I hooked up with them immediately, but the fact of the matter is that I spent about six months trying to rally the courage to ask if they wanted free labor. In the end, I was describing my situation to a friend whose wife, unbeknownst to me, is the administrative assistant to the executive vice president of the college and was more than happy to pass along my interest.

Fast forward: after spending a year volunteering at the college one evening a week and interviewing for several jobs that I didn’t actually want, I was approached by the academic dean. It turns out that the current librarian needed to leave. Would I like to take over?

It’s only been about two months since I came on board. Looking back, I can see how networking and volunteering played a huge role in getting me my first job as a librarian. I will be the first to admit that my networking efforts were clumsy and still need a lot of work. But I also recognize how important the strategy is. It can be intimidating to reach out to people and ask for help, but as the saying goes, you don’t know unless you ask!

As for volunteering, it did give me some of the experience I needed. It also increased my professional network. As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, but who you know! I am also convinced that my volunteer experience is the only reason I got the interviews I mentioned earlier.

I don’t know what my future holds any more than the next person, but I do know that because of networking and volunteering, I am in a much better place at the beginning of my career than I could possibly have imagined.