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SIS Faculty Participates in ASIS&T 2018 Conference

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The Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T) recently held its annual conference in Vancouver, and some of the School of Information Sciences’ faculty had a hand in not only presenting at the conference, but also in planning it.

SIS Professor Dania Bilal has been a long-time member of ASIS&T, and currently is a director at-large on the ASIS&T Board of Directors, and has volunteered for various committees for the organization over the years. Bilal said the conference and the professional organization are a great opportunity for students to network with other students, meet faculty from other universities, get career placement assistance and to gain professional development.

“ASIS&T connects researchers, practitioners, students and it also has special interest groups based on specific areas that members can join, and they can join more than one group on the same membership so there is no additional cost,” Bilal explained.

SIS Professor Dania BilalWhile SIS does have an ASIS&T student chapter that Bilal said students should join, she also said they should consider becoming a member of the professional organization. Students get a discount on membership, as well as a discount on conference registration fees, she said. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville SIS did win an award this year for having the largest increase in student membership, and Bilal hopes that trend continues.

“I highly recommend students join the professional association because they can get many benefits from it in terms of learning, connecting, and finding future jobs,” she said. “ASIS&T also
provides free webinars for members, and there are leadership opportunities that students should take – they need students to serve on committees.”

There are also Special Interest Group symposia that take place before the conference, which allow members to focus in on their area of interest and meet others researching in that area. Bilal also had the opportunity to sit on a panel at the conference, “Investigating Youth Learning and Data: Contexts, Concepts, and Connections,” in which she and a colleague from the University of Texas presented their current research on youth mental models of search engine result pages.

Bilal also was invited to serve as a mentor on the 2018 ASIS&T doctoral colloquium, as was SIS Professor Bharat Mehra. In this position, both professors met for half a day at the conference with the doctoral students they were paired with; the student-faculty match is based on intersections of interests between a student whose work closely relates to the research of the faculty member.

Mehra said the student he was matched with – Megan Threats, a doctoral candidate in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – was like-minded with his focus on diversity in information sciences, and they had lively and meaningful conversations around the integration of diversity and social justice into mainstream information science research, practice, and education.

Other faculty presented at the conference, including:

  • Assistant Professor Awa Zhu presented her paper, “The End of Ownership?: An Investigation of Users’ Preferences and Perceptions of Ownership Configurations,” – which she did long-distance via Zoom, the same program SIS uses for its distance education classes.
  • Mehra presented a short paper, “Information technology use behaviors of community-engaged rural librarians: A future beyond the theory-practice discourse to integrate impact,” co-authored with doctoral student Everette Scott Sikes and SIS Associate Professor Vandana Singh at the 2018 ASIS&T Special Interest Group Information Needs, Seeking and Use (SIGUSE) Symposium on Nov. 10.
  • SIS Director Diane Kelly sat on the iSchool panel, “Production Quality, Peer Review, and Predatory Journals.”
  • SIS and Chancellor Professors Suzie Allard and Carol Tenopir were also present and attending the conference.

The 2019 ASIS&T conference will be in Australia, which is part of the rotation that ASIS&T established after the organization went global, Bilal said. Every other year the conference is held outside of North America at one of the other regional locations. Check out ASIS&T for more information about the conference, or to become a member.