Dr. Shimelis Assefa exemplifies Inclusive Excellence through his scholarly work in global knowledge production. His research focus on knowledge production and knowledge diffusion highlights a new form of social-class division, which is commonly known as the north-south divide, which he frames as the knowledge divide. For Dr. Assefa, knowledge divide between a developed and a developing country is based on human capital. As the key element to the wealth of nations and globalization, human capital facilitates the free flow of ideas, information, best-practices, know-how, and knowledge on a global scale. He investigates how Africa’s limited access and non-recognized contribution to the global knowledge base creates a challenge for Africa, hindering it from playing an active role in today’s knowledge-based economy. In his book chapter Unfulfilled Promises of Globalization: Global Knowledge Production and Africa, he argues that global knowledge production is critical for a speedier, wider, and deeper interconnectedness that is inclusive and benefits all nations involved. Dr. Assefa is an Associate Professor in the Library and Information Science program.

Dr. Shimelis Assefa talks with students

In 2012, Dr. Assefa organized a panel discussion at the Association for Information Science and Technology annual meeting on the topic of Content Divide: Africa and the Global Knowledge Footprint. Taking research outputs and patent applications across all regions of the world, he analyzed the volume of production as a barometer for the well-being of nations’ scientific and innovation impact. Last year, at the same conference in Seattle, WA, he organized and led another panel on the topic of Open Access: The Global Scene, with the goal of reviewing global open access practices and suggesting ideas for the implementation of an international infrastructure that supports and sustains the future of open scholarly communication. In his recent interview with Janet Lee, Dean of Libraries at Regis University, he discussed challenges and opportunities of library collaboration from an international perspective. One key theme he discussed in the interview is exemplified through the practices of PubMed Central (PMC), the world’s largest free full-text database of bio-medical and life sciences  that archives more than 3.3 million journal articles and scientific papers. Hosted by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health, so far PMC International (PMCI) supports only Europe (Europe PMC) and Canada (PMC Canada).

In his recent publication Diffusion of scientific knowledge in agriculture: The case for Africa, he developed a knowledge diffusion model that enhances the existing extension service that is slow and hierarchical. Borrowing from the method of translational research, Dr. Shimelis investigates methods on how scientific research findings reach farmers, in a format and language that is easy to use and provides timely access, thereby narrowing the gap from knowledge to action/decision-making. Dr. Assefa also organized and led a workshop for agricultural scientists at the International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists titled Using Moodle as an Online Learning Management System to offer Professional Development Courses to Agricultural Extension Workers in Africa. He has played leadership roles in the Association for Information Science and Technology, where he served as co-chair (2011-2012) and chair (2014-2015) of the Special Interest Group in International Information Issues. We look forward to his continued dedication to Inclusive Excellence.

The Morgridge College of Education (MCE) has received a substantial donation in support of its Library and Information Science Program from Ruth D. Klein. The donation will go to scholarships for this year’s incoming Master’s students. Ms. Klein is a graduate of DU’s LIS Program and served as a librarian in the Denver Public Schools for over 30 years.

Ruth Klein was honored by the Morgridge College of Education and DU’s Office of Advancement at a luncheon on March 4th, where Dean Karen Riley (MCE) and Dean Nancy Allen (Anderson Academic Commons) joined LIS students and faculty members to thank Ms. Klein for her contributions to the field of library information science.

If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Like many twenty-somethings fresh out of undergrad, I landed in a position that felt more like a career than not, but certainly didn’t fulfill an all-encompassing life purpose. I was simply happy to be working in a position I enjoyed, not thinking too much about the next steps in my career path. I was fortunate to develop experience as a sales manager with a large and reputable company, which would later prove to be invaluable in my career change. But, as I eventually realized that particular job was not going to lead to a place of lasting interest to me, I had to decide how I was going to use the skills I had gained to work my way toward something more fulfilling.

A part time position at a public library lead me to discover something about myself. Whether it would be in libraries or another type of organization, I knew that I needed to pursue something that felt purposeful to me.

I decided it was important to obtain a Library Information Science degree, which would provide me with a basis of knowledge for a library position. I didn’t have a great deal of experience working in libraries, and felt that this would help prepare me for the type of work I was excited to begin doing.

I applied to a handful of LIS programs, and at the top of my list was the University of Denver and Morgridge College of Education’s LIS program. I wanted to be in Colorado if possible, and I wanted a program that would offer an in-person academic experience. Networking and learning from professionals face to face was one of my priorities, and DU delivered.

I was able to learn from many different professionals working in the field locally. The in-person program provided me with a variety of hands-on, practical experiences that boosted my knowledge and local support system. I graduated with my MLIS and a job in public libraries at the end of 2 years. And, during that time, I discovered a particular interest within libraries and non-profits I wouldn’t have known existed without going through the LIS program within Morgridge.

With the many opportunities the program led to, I discovered evaluation, analysis, and assessment in libraries and non-profits. The work is an excellent match to my passion that was there before I even knew what to do with it. While completing the LIS program, I became familiar with the Research Methods and Statistics program in MCE, and it proved to be the perfect avenue to continue my studies and deepen my focus in my chosen field. I’m completing my first year in the RMS doctorate program now, while continuing to work in public libraries, which will inform my work in research to come.

The faculty in MCE have been continuously supportive and steadfast in assisting me in reaching my goals. I’m continually challenged to think about my path, the steps I’m taking to get there, and how this is fulfilling my goal and professional purpose. My time working on my graduate studies at MCE has certainly shaped me as a professional, as an individual, as well as a seeker of education. Community and education is the thread of passion that links all MCE graduate students together. I’ve discovered that, as varied as our careers and interests are, our common goal is to do meaningful work in our fields.

 

"Manhattan Gold Mining and Milling Company certificate." Courtesy the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, University Libraries, via the Mountain West Digital Library.

“Manhattan Gold Mining and Milling Company certificate.” Courtesy the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, University Libraries, via the Mountain West Digital Library.

Last fall the library and information science (LIS) students in the Digital Libraries class participated in the pilot project launched by the Digital Public Library of America. The Digital Public Library of America (http://dp.la/) is a fairly new initiative aimed at creating a national digital library in the United States. The goal of the project was to provide Library and Information Science (LIS) students with the knowledge and practical experience to curate online exhibitions.  The Morgridge College of Education’s LIS program was among four programs from around the country participating in this pilot program; the School of Information and Library Science at Pratt Institute in New York, University of Washington, and the University of Oklahoma.

The exhibition was created by Heidi Buljung, Chelsea Condren, Rachel Garfield-Levine, Sarah Martinez, Liz Slaymaker-Miller, Chet Rebman, and Brittany Robinson, under the supervision of Professor Krystyna Matusiak. The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) selected the exhibit created by MCE’s LIS students, Staking Claims: The Gold Rush in Nineteenth-Century America for permanent presentation on the DPLA website.  The exhibit can be viewed at:  http://dp.la/exhibitions/exhibits/show/gold-rush

Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, P-1257.

Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, P-1257.

Artifacts showcased in the exhibit includes historical map of the gold regions of California, a magazine section from the San Francisco Sunday Call in 1910, journal entries, and certificates reflecting ownerships of stock in mining companies . These artifacts reflect the journey west to the gold regions and the romanticization of the gold rush. The exhibition further captured the implications of the gold rush such as marginalization and transformation of the United States. DU LIS student group also selected resources from the Colorado libraries, including images from the Denver Public Library Western History Digital Collections and Pikes Peak Library District Digital Collections. The participation in the DPLA pilot gave DU LIS students an opportunity to discuss the concepts of digital libraries in the real-life context and to apply their technical competencies and collaborative skills into a practical project. To view the online exhibitions at the Digital Public Library of America visit: http://dp.la/info/2014/03/05/new-exhibitions-launch-on-dpla/

Many Morgridge College of Education Library and Information Science (LIS) graduates are not only seeking imaginative, non-traditional roles in the field, but they’re finding them as well. From the variety displayed by recent graduates, the landscape of librarianship has clearly moved far beyond any antiquated stereotypes one may be holding onto.

LIS students often contribute to the traditional sites of public, school, academic, special library and archives settings, but many choose non-traditional roles working for corporations, science and medical companies, web design and content management firms, research firms, or non-traditional academic settings. These tend to be the jobs, that when discussed at a cocktail party, invite inquisitive looks and comments such as, “I didn’t even know that job existed.” But, they do exist, and based on our graduates’ success, it seems the options are boundless.

Some recent graduates shared their experiences in landing exciting, unique jobs as information professionals, and how the LIS program at Morgridge helped to shape the path they took.

A popular and important role for information professionals is digital librarianship and technology services. The graduates we spoke with interact with this role in different ways, but technology is certainly at the core of the work they’re doing.

“My official title is Digital Asset Management Specialist, though that doesn’t really explain what I do.” Grant Outerbridge, a recent LIS graduate, shared what his work involves.

“I am currently engaged in two major projects.  The first project is selecting and configuring a digital asset management (DAM) system for hundreds of thousand of digital photos and videos. This involves designing extensive customized metadata schemas for photos and videos”, Grant explains, “The second project is to help redesign DaVita’s intranet. Once word of my library training spread, I was recruited to help create taxonomies of content and business functions in order to assist the IT department in laying the organizational framework for the new intranet.”

Digital librarianship is an expanding segment of the field of information. Many prospective and current students may be seeking something similar to Grant. His advice?

“The classes I took in Web Content Management, Digital Objects & Collections, and Information Architecture were instrumental in providing me with the intellectual skill set and hands-on experience to be able to do what I do now. Information of Organization made my brain melt a little bit when I took it, but the introduction to taxonomies, folksonomies, and FRBR is what set me down my current path.”

Lindsay Roberts, a Reference Librarian at Arapahoe Community College, teaches information literacy classes, creates LibGuides for the college, catalogs new materials, assists with collection development, and provides reference service to students and faculty.

Lindsay discovered community college librarianship while completing her MLIS. When asked if there was anything in particular from her LIS education that prepared her for this role specifically, she shared a variety of classes and experiences that helped guide her.

LIS Career

“I took Cataloging and Library Instruction, which were both directly applicable to my current role and helped me get the job. I also did a Service Learning project at the Community Technology Center at Denver Public Library and worked as a Graduate Assistant at Auraria Library while in the program. Both of these experiences gave me valuable training in reference and instruction. Finally, Kim Dority’s Alternative Careers class and Jamie LaRue and Sharon Morris’ Leadership class helped me think broadly about information work and all the possibilities for careers. I highly recommend these if they are offered!”

Lindsay’s passion for the community college culture and student population is evident in her approach.

“I love building relationships with students and faculty: ACC staff and students with a wide range of backgrounds. We see many of the same folks in the Library regularly, so we get to know their names and their stories. Students will sometimes come back and say, “Hey, I got an A on that paper you helped me with!” and that’s a wonderful feeling. I think the work we do really matters, since the research skills used for a particular assignment can also help someone with other areas of their life and help them feel more confident about themselves.”

When asked “Why libraries?” many LIS students agree that public service, helping people to find the information they’re seeking, and working with a variety of resources are top of their list of reasons for going into the field of Library and Information Science. The LIS program introduces a variety of classes that shape each individual’s approach to these passions. The varied paths students take is evidence of the range of the field as well as the opportunities.

Katie Yashiro works at the National Park Service (NPS) as a government contractor for Cherokee National Technical Solutions.

“I work in the Technical Information Center (TIC) for NPS. Currently, I assist with the processing of construction, design, and planning documents that NPS produces. This includes organizing, cataloging, and accessioning these documents known as Project Information Files.”

When asked what best prepared her for her role she explained that having a basic fundamental knowledge of how to organize information so that it is findable has been the most beneficial.

Her advice to current or prospective LIS students is to look at job postings for positions they’re interested in. By doing this, you’re able to see what a prospective employer is looking for in terms of certifications, specializations, and classes. Katie claims this was some of the best advice she received while in the program. She also encourages LIS students to network as much as possible by joining different clubs, associations, and affiliations.

“I have learned [this] is a key to advancing your career in the library field. Being as connected as possible to the library community is one of the most beneficial things an LIS student can do.”

The notion of networking and being a part of professional associations is new to many students upon entering the program, but the opportunities to do so on a student level are numerous. And while involvement in the student associations and the coursework, as well as finding your way down this path, may seem overwhelming, a similar sentiment is shared among recent graduates: It’s all about the courses, the people, investigating the path you’re interested in, and utilizing the LIS offerings to get you there.


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