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Ken Burhanna, MLIS – Alumni Spotlight

iSchool Graduation Date

1994

Professional Organizations/Affiliations

Association of Research Libraries, Academic Library Association of Ohio, Association of College and Research Libraries, American Library Association 

Current responsibilities/How are you using your information skills?

I oversee the University Libraries of Kent State as Dean. I also oversee Kent State LaunchNET (entrepreneurial firm focusing on innovative mindset development and student-startups) and the Kent State University Press.  

What is the best professional advice you can give?

Cultivate a growth, learner mindset. Always ask questions and know you are likely more wrong than you are right.  

How do you encourage innovative ideas?

Ask questions and encourage experiments. Put resources behind the experiments if you can.   

Do you have a mentor? How have they influenced you?

 I have had several mentors filling several different roles. It takes a village and it’s an active process. Mentorship doesn’t just happen to you. My mentors have influenced me by supporting me, showing me the way and listening to me.  

What do you wish you had done earlier or more often?

Forgive myself for my mistakes.  

How and where do you find inspiration?

Reading, writing and exercising outside — anything that helps me stop and reflect.  

To what values are you committed?

To be open, inclusive and innovative.  

How do you balance your work and home life?

Wow, this is not a question that can be easily answered in a few lines. It takes a type of selfish discipline that I have yet to entirely master. The pandemic has really blurred the lines too. At this point, the best start for me is not to check email after I stop work for the day and not on Friday nights and Saturdays.  

What are some challenges that today’s information professionals will face? And tomorrow’s?

Privacy of user information. The spiraling costs of information resources. Equitable access to information (Internet) for all. Educating users to apply critical thinking to the information they encounter. These all, by the way, are connected in an almost perverse way.    

How can the library remain important to the community?

By constantly responding to their users’ needs while maintaining the values of our profession.  

What websites, apps, podcasts, or other resources would you recommend to explore?

Scholarly Kitchen, Fast Company, Charleston Hub, and any number of library-related podcasts. You can easily find many on Google. A good starter list can be found here: https://player.fm/podcasts/Librarian.  

What is a book you like that you have to defend liking and what is a book you dislike that you have to defend disliking?

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – liking 

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation – disliking 


Special thanks to the Kent State University iSchool Alumni Network for coordinating these profiles. Learn more about the Alumni Network on their Facebook page and group. Students are welcome to join and participate.

John Antill – Student Spotlight

What degree are you pursuing at the KSU iSchool?

Master of Science in Knowledge Management

Tell us a little bit about your academic and/or professional background and area(s) of focus.

Joined the military in 1998 as a Marine Firefighter. Learned a lot about the way different groups of people shared their ideas to allow firefighters to better and more safely complete their jobs. People worked with industries to identify areas that would be safe for firefighters to cut, bend, and work on. I got out of the Marine Corps in 2002 and started working contracts in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Knowledge there was shared for contracts, but nothing else. I returned to the States as I was completing my Bachelor of Science in Public Safety Administration. I graduated with honors as being part of the national honor society Alpha Chi with Summa Cum Laude distinction. I joined the National Guard as an Officer and it wasn’t until I went to FT Gordon and met Keith Davis that I realized what the fire departments were doing was knowledge management and I wanted to do more, as it enabled people to work faster and better. I deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, where I developed a way to do training online for the Information Management Course, which allowed soldiers to have elevated rights on computes. 

I moved to Augusta,GA in 2013 and worked at the Cyber CoE for a year. I picked up a contract working at Joint Force Headquarters Cyber (Army) in Nov 2014 and have been with them since. I wanted to better myself in knowledge management so I started on my degree in 2018. I went to the Army qualifier School for KM, Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, and took the certificate courses at KM Institute for the Certified Knowledge Manager (CKM), Certified Knowledge Specialist in Knowledge Transfer and Information Architecture, and finally i did a project to receive the Master of CKM.

Professional affiliations:

VFW,  American Legion, Signal Corps and the Signal Regimental Association, Cyber Regiment

Describe recent project(s) or research that you’ve been working on.

I am working on two projects to finish my degree. One is a research paper about a process to better classification and data transfer in the army. It will create a cost avoidance of $20,572,774 in manning hours with an average salary of $100,355 annually.

The second project I am working on is Crisis Management Calendar deconfliction. It goes over the different products and processes to align meetings with the business objectives to avoid wasteful meetings.

What iSchool class(es) have you enjoyed the most?

I’ve enjoyed the UX courses the most so far. The understanding of why a universal design is better than accessibility options. A well designed item will vastly outperform one that is designed around a specific needs group.

What issues related to information interest you most?

Shareability. It is one thing to find something you are looking for, but not to be able to access frustrates me.

Are there any websites, apps, podcasts or other resources you’d recommend other students explore?

Specifically no. What I would say is for every 2 podcasts, websites, apps, or resources you spend your time on, do 1 for fun. Life is a balance and too much of something you do not do for fun will set the precedence for your life. Find the balance of fun, work, and life to succeed.

If you had one superpower:

Time stop.

How do you like to spend time outside of work?

I like to ride motorcycles, swim, hunt, fish, and watch Sci Fi such as Dr Who.

How do you balance school with work and/or home life?

Since a true balance is never achieved, I try to make quality time with family since work is a straight amount of time. 

What career paths are you considering?

I am pursuing a way to increase Knowledge Management.

Do you have any other advice for other students?

Try to get all your homework and discussion areas done as early as possible, since you do not know what will come up for the weekend. Too many students wait until the weekend to do those and rush to get them done in time. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Say hi, thank you, and help out any chance you get. You never know if that is the next person to change your life.

Mary Schreiber, MLIS – Alumni Spotlight

iSchool Graduation Date

2003

Professional Organizations/Affiliations

• American Library Association
• Association for Library Service to Children
• Currently serving on the 2021 Randolph Caldecott Committee

Current responsibilities/How are you using your information skills?

• Collection Development Specialist for Cuyahoga County Public Library in the area of youth selection

• Presenting at the South Central Library System (WI) virtual staff development day in October on the topic of Partnering with Parents for Early Childhood Success

• Adjunct Professor at Kent State University’s iSchool.  Taught the Selection and Acquisitions class in Spring semester 2020

• Published a professional development book, Partnering with Parents: Boosting Literacy for All Ages through ABC-CLIO.

What is the best professional advice you can give?

Always return emails and voicemail in a timely manner.  I shoot for 24-48 hours even if the response is simply that I’m still working on getting an answer or finding a solution.  Your co-workers and community partners will really appreciate the courtesy.

How do you encourage innovative ideas?

We’ve had a lot of retirements over the last few years, so there are many new librarians and support staff working in the branches.  It can be a challenge to get to know everyone, but I feel it is important to keep the lines of communication open so branches know they can ask for materials to support their programming idea.  For example, when Baby Club was started, the branch staff asked to have reference copies of the board books they would be sharing with families.  This was something I could happily do.

Do you have a mentor? How have they influenced you?

I’ve had several mentors throughout my career.  Some have been formal mentors that have helped me make decisions about next steps in my career.  These were set-up through my library’s mentoring program.  Others have been more informal, including managers who were strong and supportive leaders and were examples to me when I was a supervisor.  I’ve also been informally mentored by ALSC members through the various committees I’ve served on.  This has expanded my network and comes in handy when my library is looking for outside advice on new products or services.  Specifically, I learned how to work with a board and leadership team when I served on and co-chaired the ALSC Public Awareness Committee and was involved in creating board proposals and the Championing Children’s Services toolkit.  I’ve also served as a mentor and learned a lot from my mentees.  Their creativity and enthusiasm inspires and energizes me.

What do you wish you had done earlier or more often?

Taking a little time to think before saying yes to an opportunity and knowing it’s fine to say no when a project doesn’t really interest you or the timing isn’t right. If it’s meant to be, they’ll ask again.  If it’s a must do for your job, then speak up to your boss and ask for guidance.  It is okay to ask for help prioritizing projects when what you’re hearing is that everything is top priority.  They can’t all be #1 and a good boss will help you manage your to-do list so you can get them what they need when they need it.  I’m stilling working on this one. 
😊

How and where do you find inspiration?

I read a lot and get inspired by books all the time.   Listening to authors and illustrators talk about their process brings additional joy to favorites.  I also find professional development rewarding.  Whether it is attending an ALA or OLC Conference or a webinar, I love to learn from others and then see how I can bring at least one thing back to my library to implement. 

To what values are you committed?

As a selector of materials, I’m committed to intellectual freedom and access of information.  I work to find and add a wide variety of diverse titles to the collection.  I feel it’s very important to have books that reflect and expand a child’s experiences with the world.

How do you balance your work and home life?

In the past, I have not brought work home much, and tried to limit out of work time spent checking email.  Using the out-of-office feature lets people know when they can expect to hear back from you.  Since March, I’ve been working more from home and so I’ve been pretty strict about turning off my work computer at 5:00 and staying off email in the evenings.  I enjoy spending time with my family, reading (the lines are a little blurry on this one), and traveling when I’m not working.

What are some challenges that today’s information professionals will face? And tomorrow’s?

With the pandemic it has really highlighted the importance of digital access and broadband for all.  I think this is an area that library professionals will be working with their communities to expand and improve.  There will also be a need to see how it permanently influences libraries.  Will people permanently move to ebooks?  What will programming look like once large in person groups are safe?  Will there still be some author/storytime events online?

I’ve worked in libraries for 25 years.  Services, programs, formats, and technology have changed and shifted to the point where some areas of librarianship are almost unrecognizable to the libraries of my childhood.  I’m glad the library is more of a community space rather than a quiet, sacred space.  I think being flexible and embracing change are characteristics information professionals will continue to need in the future.

How can the library remain important to the community?

As COVID-19 has shown, libraries are where people go when they need reliable Internet and computer access.  They go to libraries for job searching and for help applying for benefits.  I gained firsthand knowledge of the challenges of applying for unemployment when my library went on Shared Work Ohio for a couple of months this Spring.  Libraries are perfect partners for community organizations like senior centers and schools to support reading and lifelong learning.

What websites, apps, podcasts, or other resources would you recommend to explore?

I like the Mile High Reading blog and Heavy Medal Mock Newbery blog. To keep in the know about what’s being published, I subscribe to the Shelf Awareness and Book Pulse e-newsletters.  

What is a book you like that you have to defend liking and what is a book you dislike that you have to defend disliking?

I was a huge Babysitters Club fan as a child and a librarian told my mom that she should make me read “better” books.  Thankfully, my mom didn’t listen.  This has made me a champion for kids having access to the materials they like – graphic novels, comic books, cartoon/superhero beginning readers, video games, etc. Caregivers can set limits for their kids, but library staff never should.

I never was able to make it through Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.  I tried reading and listening to the first book, but just couldn’t get into it.  When asked, I say that teens know about the series and they’ve never really needed me to recommend it.  I also read the reviews so that I would have good background knowledge for parent concerns.  Twilight was hot right before I left branch life and moved to collection development.  With Midnight Sun arriving in August, I purchased many copies to meet the customer demand and in lots of formats.


Special thanks to the Kent State University iSchool Alumni Network for coordinating these profiles. Learn more about the Alumni Network on their Facebook page and group. Students are welcome to join and participate.

Kendra Albright, Ph.D. – Faculty Spotlight

Tell us a little bit about your professional background and areas of focus.

Professional practice: I spent 15 years in professional practice, including my own consulting business.  My first job out of my MSLS was as Business Information Center Manager for a publishing company that published Esquire magazine; followed by six years at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), heading up an in-house consulting company that provided information professionals to work on dedicated single, long-term projects for scientists and engineers.

When I started my family, I worked part-time as the Chemistry Librarian.  Having never had a chemistry class in my life, I spent time with chemists in their labs, read textbooks, and attended multiple training courses in molecular structure searching at Chemical Abstracts in Columbus.  I learned lots from the chemists who loved to share their work (and letting me participate) in their experiments!

I left ORNL to head up a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract with a private company called Information International Associates, Inc.  There we abstracted and indexed up to 32,000 scholarly articles per year to enter into the Department of Energy’s Energy Science & Technology Database.  I also worked on contracts with the U.S. intelligence community and private business. I left to pursue my PhD.

My PhD research brought together my B.S. in Human Development (i.e., developmental psychology), my MSLS, and my PhD focus of Communications/Information Sciences with a concentration in Information Economics.  I investigated the economic, social, political, and cultural impact of information and communication technologies on global development.  Since then I have focused on the ways in which information changes behavior, beginning with a multi-study over several years in Uganda, to explore how they were successful in reversing the spread of HIV through behavior change.  My doctoral student at the time, Dick Kawooya, is from Uganda, and we were able to secure funding and a research team on the ground in Uganda, to complete multiple studies, the last one working with the Uganda AIDS Commission.  Ask me about it and I’ll tell you what we learned!

I then took what we learned and with my colleague, Dr. Karen Gavigan at the University of South Carolina, worked with incarcerated young men, ages 15-17, at the South Carolina Juvenile Justice Department to write a graphic novel about AIDS prevention specifically for African-American teens in the state which has one of the fastest growing rates of HIV increase in the U.S.  The result was AIDS in the End Zone, a story of football mayhem and treachery in a South Carolina high school.  It was written up in the New York Times and interviews were picked up by the press, including USA Today on their website.  We tested the knowledge gains of teens, ages 15-19, and found that it had a statistically significant increase in knowledge over materials created for teens by the CDC.

In my academic career, I’ve had the opportunity to live and work in three countries: the U.S. (U. of Tennessee, U. of South Carolina), England (U. of Sheffield), and Georgia (former Soviet Union – the Georgia Institute of Public Affairs).  These experiences have enriched my understanding of people; our similarities and differences.  Of all my professional and academic experiences, the knowledge I’ve gained from travel is the most valuable.  I strongly encourage students to pursue study or work abroad.

Describe recent projects or research that you’ve been working on.

As the recently appointed Goodyear Endowed Professor in Knowledge Management (KM), my focus is shifting to research in this area.  Currently, I am working with a team of researchers across the world; our original focus was to investigate KM programs offered around the world.  What we found when we started is that KM is a very fluid term and hard to define and measure.  We decided to take a step back and review a large amount of KM literature and develop our own understanding of what KM is, and the criteria that exist to define and recognize it.  We built a taxonomy to represent our collective understanding, which is currently being finalized.  Our next step is to refine our original criteria for identifying programs in KM so that we can proceed to catalog those programs around the world.  There are additional offshoots to this work that are also proceeding.  This is a long-term body of research that will benefit from the efforts of many people involved in the project.

What is your favorite part of teaching?

It is very easy to say that it’s working with the students.  But in order to do that well, developing a sound and interesting course is the best place to start.  So while it may not be glamorous, building a good course with the students’ interests in mind is a very important part of teaching.  Especially in an online environment, finding ways to convey knowledge that are both helpful and interesting is certainly a challenge!

Do you have a favorite teaching moment?

I do!  It happens when a student has been struggling with a particular issue and suddenly the light bulb comes on for them and you can see or hear it in their work, in their postings, etc.  That is what makes it all worthwhile.

How have your professional experiences influenced your teaching?

The best thing about having professional experience is that it allows me to give concrete examples to illustrate points for students and makes it easier for them to understand.

What issues related to information interest you most?

The answer to this changes day to day, hour by hour.  Our field is both expanding (i.e., interdisciplinary), and fragmenting (going in many different directions), making it difficult to choose which direction to go.  I believe students have a similar experience when trying to select their courses to take each semester, which is why having an advisor is really important.  My general interest is in understanding how information is used to improve the quality of life for all people.

Are there any websites, apps, podcasts or other resources you’d recommend students explore?

This year, there is a lot of focus on the role of information and professionals in contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. See how information professionals are responding:

asis&t Annual Meeting 2020
IFLA: Libraries, Development and the United Nations 2030 Agenda
EBLIDA: SDGs and Libraries – First European Report
ALIA: Support the Sustainable Development Goals
Libraries Aotearoa: Libraries and UN 2030 Agenda SDGs
Informative Flights: SDGs in the Library
2017 Mortenson Center Associates

If you had one superpower:

Hahaha….not needing sleep!

How do you like to spend time outside of work?

During the pandemic, it’s just to get outside.  Biking, walking, hiking, tennis, anything that gets me moving is how I like to spend my time.

Do you have any advice for students?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and speak your mind.  If you are in the MLIS profession, you are an advocate by choice.  Remember that advocating for freedom of expression and freedom of access to information are core to a democratic society and you play an important role in ensuring that freedom is preserved.

What class(es) are you teaching for Kent’s iSchool?

LIS 60030: People in the Information Ecology
KM 60304: The Information and Knowledge Economy

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Have fun while doing good work.

iSchool November Town Hall

On Thursday, November 12th at 7pm ET, the iSchool will host a Town Hall meeting via Zoom. This open forum provides a space for students to ask questions and participate in a live discussion with iSchool Interim Director Dr. Meghan Harper, faculty members, student organization leaders and other students. In November, we’ll be highlighting knowledge management (KM). Join us to meet KM Director Dr. Kendra Albright and learn more about the program and career options.

To attend this virtual event, please contact iSchool GSAC President Lauren Zollinger (lzolling@kent.edu) for the Zoom link.