Welcome to our January Newsletter. Winter is a time for us to refocus, retool, and prepare for growth; we prepare for the next garden season. While the naked eye doesn’t see much change, below the surface, much is happening.
As you read this, I will be sitting on the beach with friends and family. I, like so many others, need time to take a break, to get my mind off of work, to plan and chart my new year. The next year will be an exciting time for MLIS. We have some new initiatives we are working on. We are moving into untested waters, but our roots are strong. We look forward to sharing these with you soon.
May your 2018 be your best year ever. May you find the time and space to plan, to dream, to aim for the stars.
Grace and Peace,
Director, MLIS Program
Dr. Deb Grealy Retires this Month!
Congratulations to Dr. Deborah Grealy upon her retirement as Associate Dean/MLIS Program Director.
I told Deb G. this story more than once: The day in the fall of 2009 that I heard she would be a candidate for the Associate Dean/Program Director position, I said to myself, “Hmm… that name sounds familiar.” Then I looked down at the book sitting on my desk and realized why. I was reading her newly published book (with co-author Sylvia Hall-Ellis), From Research to Practice: The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in LIS Education.
Eventually, I realized that I actually had met Deb G. a few years earlier at an Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) conference. I also remembered that she had hired one of my good friends for a faculty member position in the University of Denver LIS program.
During her time here at St. Catherine University, the two of us would often remark about the “small world” that exists in the LIS/Archives community and how that small world brought us together at St. Catherine University.
I send warm wishes to my colleague, Deb G., for a happy, fulfilling retirement and well-deserved time with her family in Colorado.
Deb Torres, Assistant Program Director, MLIS Program
The St Kate’s MLIS Program wishes Deb Grealy the happiest retirement. She has been instrumental in getting our program accredited, and ensuring that we maintain full accreditation. We will miss her dearly.
Anthony Molaro, Director, MLIS Program
Deb Grealy was an amazing partner, listener, advice giver, and leader. She opened the doors between the library and MLIS, and together we grew the involvement of MLIS students in the work of the library as well as library staff invited into courses and activities. She leaves a wonderful legacy of enriching the program and partnerships. She will be missed and we wish her the best in the next part of her journey.
Emily Asch, Director of Libraries, Archives and Media, St. Kate’s Library
Deb was an amazing colleague to me in the 3 years our time overlapped at St. Kate’s. She recognized the challenges that face a new program director, and served as a guide, mentor, and friend to me. I already miss her terribly but wish her nothing but the best in her next chapter!
Michelle Wieser, Associate Dean of Graduate Business Programs
This is where your life has arrived…
Look back with graciousness and thanks
On all your great and quiet achievements.
You stand on the shore of new invitation
To open your life to what is left undone;
Let your heart enjoy a different rhythm
When drawn to the wonder of other horizons.
Have the courage for a new approach to time;
Allow it to slow until you find freedom
To draw alongside the mystery you hold
And befriend your own beauty of soul . . .
Thank you for being a colleague and friend.
Bonnie LaDuca, Faculty Development Consultant
David P. Norris (MLIS 2017) Winter Commencement Speaker
David Philip Norris, a 2017 MLIS graduate, delivered the Commencement speech at the Winter Commencement — which took place on December 21, 2017.
David was nominated to be the graduate student speaker by Assistant Professor Sarah Park Dahlen. He subsequently submitted a speech sample to a larger University committee who narrowed the choice down to a few select students, and finally chose David.
During his three years at St. Kate’s, David served as secretary of the Society of American Archivists chapter, mentored incoming MLIS students, and facilitated faculty-student panel discussions on compiling an ePortfolio — a mandatory graduation requirement for all MLIS students.
Now that he has graduated, David’s goal is to further information access and services for LGBTQ and other marginalized communities. He will also be partnering with current student Heather Carroll to write a chapter in an upcoming Library Juice Press book about Name Authority Control issues for the WARM Journal cataloging project.
LIS Professors Granted Sabbatical Leaves
Sabbaticals are a great opportunity for faculty to expand their knowledge and gain new skills that help enrich LIS programs. In the November issue Associate Professor Sheri Ross shared her experience on her recently year long sabbatical spent as an overseas student studying at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. If you missed it, you can find her article here.
We are pleased to announce that later this year, two additional LIS professors – Drs. Kyunghye Yoon and Sarah Park Dahlen, will also be taking sabbaticals — from May 2018 through January 2019.
Associate Professor Kyunghye Yoon
Dr. Yoon will spend her sabbatical as a visiting scholar at the University of Sheffield in the UK conducting exploratory research within the area of Text Analytics.
This is an exciting opportunity because, in the UK, the University of Sheffield is considered to be a very prestigious, ‘Oxbridge’ institution (similar to the ‘Ivy League’). While it is not so well-known here in the US, it is not unfamiliar to Professor Yoon who first visited the university in the summer of 1998 to attend a conference. She left with a very good impression and high regard for the work they are accomplishing within the Information field.
For this research opportunity specifically, Yoon applied to various institutions and was ultimately accepted at Sheffield. For her, it was a combination of two factors that made Sheffield attractive for research into text analytics:
- They have a good Information School;
- The Computer Science department has faculty with an interest in text processing, and can provide access to state-of-the-art natural language processing software.
Yoon says, “I will be aiming to apply predicate analysis techniques in order to find a procedure with which to define the relationship between entities within any natural language passage. More specifically, to employ a method to identify a semantic core of user meaning in the user-generated content (UGC) such as online book reviews, that I have been looking at.”
However, she also stressed, “It’s not easy for me to lay out some kind of timeline because I cannot anticipate how it will process. It is such an early stage of a research exploring for a correct method; it is not predictable, but at the very least I will gain some valuable insights into how to approach text analytics and text mining which I can use in my teaching. So, if a very clear research product does not emerge, I will seek to learn as much as possible from the Computer Scientists in order to update my knowledge of text analytics.”
Associate Professor Sarah Park Dahlen
Dr. Dahlen will use her sabbatical to get a head start on the reading she will be required to complete as a newly appointed member of the Committee for the 2019 Newbery Award.
She says, “It’s the honor of a lifetime. I’m really excited that it aligns with the sabbatical so I can really focus on reading. I think also, that I can bring my experiences back to the classroom, and share with my students. Hopefully then, that means my students will have an enhanced learning experience too.”
Every year, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) awards the John Newbery Medal to a book they consider to be the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. More information is available at: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/newberymedal/newberymedal.
During her sabbatical, Dahlen plans to be less active on Social Media in order to minimize the risk of compromising her position.
She explains, “We are allowed to have conversations about books with other people, but there are rules regarding what we can say, and we are absolutely, absolutely not allowed to share any of our committee deliberations with other people. People can ask us about the books that we’re reading, but we are not allowed to show partiality about anything. All the committee members have to be very careful.”
For students who would like to learn more about the Newbery award process, Dahlen recommends they gain first-hand experience by participating in the annual Mock Newbery and Mock Caldecott events organized by adjunct Professor Gail Nordstrom.
MLIS Faculty: Fake News Resources –Snapshots in Time
- Reaffirm the importance of the liberal arts for civic participation in the digital age.
- Understand approaches and tools that can be used to critically evaluate information found on social media.
- Discuss some of the ethical, social, and technological issues that affect online news literacy.
- Work hands-on with evaluating news credibility on social media.
Snapshot 1: January 2017
MLIS colleagues, Konhe Yoon and Toyin Akisanya, I presented to the St. Kate’s community, “Fake News on Social Media: Critical Thinking in the Digital Environment.”
As part of the presentation, we looked at types of misleading news ranging from understandable (and corrected) mistakes made in breaking news stories to intentionally misleading news, highly partisan news, Clickbait, and outright lies, as well as satire. The top fake political news stories on Facebook up to then were “Obama signs executive order banning the Pledge of Allegiance in schools nationwide” (over two million shares and reactions) published on a fake ABC News website, and “Pope Francis shocks world, endorses Donald Trump for president” (nearly a million shares) from a now defunct fake news site. I found that the richest sources of information then were news media and the websites of nonprofit and educational organizations.
A search on “fake news” up to January 2017 in the databases, Library Literature & Information Science Full Text and Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts (LISTA), retrieved only 30 results, with 20 related to the presidential campaign.
Snapshot 2: August 2017
St. Kate’s Library colleague, Anne Beschnett, and I presented on fake news again to the St. Kate’s community, with some new developments.
After being initially dismissive about its role in the spread of fake news by Russian groups, Facebook was working with third-party fact checking organizations to help flag false stories and block ads linked to those stories or from fake news websites.
Instagram was also cracking down on fake influencers. Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales had started Wikitribune, a platform for professional and citizen journalists to collaborate on breaking news. Twitter, however, was still dragging its feet.
Anne did a great exercise on the continuum of legitimate to fake news, using Vanessa Otero’s News Quality Chart. A Library Literature and LISTA search on “fake news” limited to January-June 2017 retrieved 51 items (a 170% increase in 6 months!) that provided analysis of the issues and advice for information and media literacy instruction for all types of libraries.
Snapshot 3: December 2017
Based on recent developments, I decided to add a new definition of fake news to my list: judging by his tweets against CNN, The New York Times, and other media organizations adhering to journalistic integrity, Trump’s definition is, “Credible news I don’t like.”
In September, Facebook confirmed that hundreds of fake accounts linked to a Russian troll farm had bought divisive ads targeting the 2016 U.S. election audience. Facebook and Twitter turned over the ads and accounts to lawmakers as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the election. The ads have been strongly linked to a larger Russian plan of cyber espionage and black propaganda described by Malcolm Nance in his prescient book, The Plot to Hack America.
As of mid-November, Facebook and Google, joined by Twitter (finally), announced that they would use new “trust indicators” to help users evaluate the reliability of the publications and journalists behind articles appearing in news feeds.
A Library Literature and LISTA search on “fake news” limited to July-December 2017 retrieved 55 items that explored new areas such as fake news archiving and machine learning to combat fake news.
For fun, I created a Word Cloud of the keywords and subject headings for these articles. It’s clear that social media and information literacy are key themes.
Best Resources: One excellent resource hot off the press is “Combating Fake News in the Digital Age” by Joanna Burkhardt (Library Technology Reports, Nov/Dec. 2017). It covers the history of fake news from the pre-printing press era to the internet age, how fake news spreads, the technologies of fake news, and how we can combat fake news ourselves and by teaching others. I’ll be giving another presentation on fake news in January as part of a St. Kate’s Alumnae Relations series on Communication and Truth-Telling. Who knows what new developments and new resources we’ll see by then?
Here are a few more from a growing body of great resources on combating fake news, teaching information/media/news literacy, and the impact of fake news on civic society:
St. Kate’s Libraries: Researching and Learning in the Archives
I have been the Head of Archives and Special Collections at St. Kate’s since 2011.
While archival collections are rare treasures, they are not to be sequestered from users. Rather, the whole point of protecting and preserving them is so they can be accessed, now and in the future. In an academic archives, this means allowing, and encouraging, student use of the collections.
Resources in the Archives and Special Collections lend themselves to study in a variety of disciplines. This happens both within and outside the classroom:
Students in one class, during a unit on identity, worked with 100-year-old scrapbooks to relate past students’ lives to their own class project of taking a selfie a day for a month.
Another class was curious about the history of African-American students at St. Kate’s.
Using records from student life, the registrar, admissions, faculty committees, intercultural affairs, and others, each group in the class researched a different time period. The result was a combined final paper telling the story from the first African-American students in the 1940s up through the 1990s.
Business students used records of The O’Shaughnessy to help develop a new marketing plan for the theater.
The Catholic Worker materials in the Ade Bethune Collection and the records of the Catholic Interracial Council of the Twin Cities have been used by graduate students studying the history of social work.
For an honors seminar on women and sports, students reviewed athletics at St. Kate’s through annual reports of the physical education department and records of the Women’s Athletic Association student club.
Student life is another fertile area. It supports research into such topics as dress codes, Japanese-American students who came from internment camps during World War II, the campus climate during the civil rights movement, student debates surrounding the growing popularity of the Pill, and how dining areas and food options have changed.
One graduate student from Illinois discovered our records of a 1930s cooperative study on general education are more comprehensive than the documentation at other participating institutions.
This past summer an Indiana doctoral student visited to gather preliminary research for her dissertation on the development of Catholic women’s colleges in the Midwest.
The papers of St. Catherine’s first president, Sr. Antonia McHugh, helped inform a faculty member’s book on Our Lady of Victory Chapel.
A senior from Notre Dame used the papers of another president, Antonius Kennelly, CSJ, for her thesis on the achievements of Catholic sisters in science.
Not only does digging into St. Kate’s history help strengthen students’ connection to the University, working with primary sources also fosters intellectual inquiry and critical thinking skills.
This fall I led a class of first-year students in an activity using past issues of the student newspaper and the thinking routine Generate-Sort-Connect-Elaborate. As a group, we constructed a concept map to answer the question, “What was it like being a student at St. Kate’s ten years ago?”
The students were able to identify common topics from their separate newspapers, develop arguments for each topic, and select evidence to support each argument. The progressive nature of the exercise led the students (only two weeks into their college career) to fairly sophisticated levels of thinking. In addition, it modeled the analysis they would need to write a research paper on student life in the past.Other class activities develop additional research skills: one I have used several times encourages students to piece together the story of an event on campus, such as the student social strike to protest the Vietnam War or former Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver’s appearance at St. Kate’s. This requires them to synthesize evidence from multiple documents with different points of view.
Another pairs a published essay about Sr. Antonia McHugh with sources from the archives by or about her. Since not all of the sources are cited in the essay, this leads to a discussion on the selection and interpretation of evidence to support an argument.
One of the most rewarding aspects of my work has been seeing my efforts at outreach to students and faculty bear fruit. Targeted discussions and presentations have led to a dramatic increase in the number of classes visiting, and student researchers using, the Archives and Special Collections.
Head of Archives & Special Collections
Quiet Books & Social Justice
Last month, students in the LIS 7210 Library Materials for Children class had the opportunity to learn the role that quiet books can play in furthering the cause of Social Justice through a discussion with local authors Bao Phi and Molly Beth Griffin.
Professor Sarah Park Dahlen explained that visiting authors are a key feature of the Minnesota Authors unit of the class. She says, “I often invite authors, editors, whoever, to speak in class, but because a lot of them don’t live here, they come in through Skype. However, for my MN Authors unit, I make sure that they’re people I can invite to class. I want my students to experience the excitement of meeting actual authors, as well as be able to ask questions directly of them, the way so many did. In this way it sort of models what it could look like if, as librarians, they invite authors.”
Authors Phi and Griffin are well known on the local literary scene — Phi is an award winning poet and also the Program Director at The Loft Literary Center, while Griffin has published multiple Young Adult and Children’s books, and is a writing teacher at The Loft Literary Center. Their visit focused specifically on the social justice themes that underpin the lessons in Phi’s debut picture book, A Different Pond, and Griffin’s recently released, Rhoda’s Rock Hunt — both aptly described by Griffin as “quiet books.”
Although quiet books deliver their messages of social justice — in this case through cultural understanding and respect for nature, very gently they can still be an extremely powerful and engaging learning tool for children. This was the essence of the authors’ discussions with the class.
The authors took turns to speak, with Phi kicking off the discussion.
Bao Phi: A Different Pond
According to Phi A Different Pond first started as a personal poem about events that occurred during his childhood. Encouraged by friends and colleagues, and inspired by his daughter, he expanded it into a children’s book.
In A Different Pond its not just Phi’s poetic prose that furthers the cause of Social Justice, Bui’s poignant and evocative illustrations also serve to complete an intensely emotional immersion into this tiny facet of the Vietnamese-American immigrant experience. Phi shared that his partnership with Bui, was a very deliberate choice his publisher allowed him to make (although he stressed that that is not typical. Publishers generally utilize their expertise and networks to select the most appropriate illustrator, who then works with the editor. The writer and illustrator do not usually communicate directly with one another).
From a child’s perspective, A Different Pond is a beautifully illustrated, quiet tale about a boy who goes fishing with his loving and dedicated father at a secluded pond alongside a mysterious stranger in the spooky silence of the predawn hours. But subtly woven into the tale are nuances that inform and educate us about cultural and social differences: the father’s “thick” accent; a norm where parents work multiple jobs to support their families; an immigrant’s struggle to survive in a new country; poor people fishing for sustenance in one of the world’s richest countries.
He added, “And so part of it is, hopefully, telling the story of a very specific refugee family and the pain and the survival in a way that doesn’t shy away from the difficulty of it, the challenge of it, but isn’t like pictures of people being dismembered or exploding.
My daughter definitely gets it. It seems like from what I understand, and from what teachers and parents have been telling me is that their kids ask questions. …In retrospect, the books that I remember from my childhood were all the quiet ones… those stories really touched me. I was excited by all the other cool fun stuff that was meant to pull my attention. But the stuff that I really remember are the quiet ones.”
Rebecca added, “It’s that opportunity for the kids to see the mirrors. Beyond that, there’s a fishing book for fun versus a fishing book for food said in that quiet voice. It’s a story that needs to be told. It brings value to the students’ daily life, to their family, to their experience to know that they’re not the only one going through something.”
Learn more about Bao Phi at www.baophi.com/.
Molly Beth Griffin: Rhoda’s Rock Hunt
Griffin’s interest in children’s relationship with nature developed early in her career —while pursuing her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Hamline University, this was the main focus of her critical thesis. She explains, “in my critical thesis I was looking at nature deficit disorder — what kids need, and what needs are met through being outside, unsupervised in nature: privacy, connection and competence (or mastery).”
She has been involved in nature writing ever since.
It’s not surprising then that Rhoda’s Rock Hunt is about a child independently pursuing her own interests in rocks while on a camping trip. Rhoda not only enjoys collecting rocks, but also has a problem letting go of them. It’s a role in which any child could easily imagine themselves – even those in more urban environments with limited access to green spaces.
Griffin chose to frame her discussion of Rhoda’s Rock Hunt within the larger context of helping children start and build a relationship with nature. As she explained, “Kids aren’t going to care about the natural world unless they care about the natural world. They’re not going to want to change it or save it or protect it if they’ve never played outside. It doesn’t have any meaning for them. And so, if we want kids to have any mentality as stewards then we have to instill that. That’s our responsibility.”
While the class browsed through the nature books, Griffin used their stories and illustrations to explain how nature books can inspire outdoor play, educate children, offer a model for how to play outside, and open up a conversation around nature within families.
She also pointed out that simulating nature through picture books can be an acceptable alternative during seasons when children are not able to get outside as often, as well as in more urban settings where nature may not be as accessible. An added benefit of simulated natural environments is that they take children places they might never be able to travel in reality — like the desert or the arctic or a rainforest!
- First and foremost choose interesting stories;
- Focus on the positives, and not the catastrophes;
- Focus on the close-to-home, and not the far away.
Her reasoning was that, “older children are more able to cope with scarier, and far away things. We need to be empowering them [younger children], instead of making them afraid; we want them to feel that intimacy …”
During the Q&A session that followed, Griffin spoke briefly about the additional lessons that can be learned from Rhoda’s Rock Hunt. She said, “There are layers in a picture book, and some of them are for the adults who has to read it a thousand times. I hope they get something out of it too, because we all struggle with being encumbered, and having too many things to carry. So there’s the idea that you can have an awesome experience and leave most of it behind, and yet still walk away with the experience.”
She also admitted, “In my work in general, I like to play around with the family structure, and not make the story about that, but just let it be normal.”
Learn more about Molly Beth Griffin at www.mollybethgriffin.com/
Alum News: We’d Love to Hear from More MLIS Alums!
** Your Post-MLIS Experience Here **We are looking for more MLIS alum stories for this section! If you are interested in being interviewed during the upcoming spring semester or the 2018-19 academic year, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will contact you to schedule a suitable month for your interview.
Interviews typically take less than 2 hours to complete, and can be scheduled for evenings or weekends for your convenience.
Your career stories are informative and inspirational to both current students and other alum so please continue to share them with us!
Take a Coat, Leave a Coat
McBride had been thinking about an idea like this for a while and when an extra coat rack serendipitously fell into her hands, she knew exactly how to use it. As she says, “The cold weather hit fast this year and I knew there would be community members who needed coats. I also knew there would be many who would be happy to donate. The program has been a success so far. We check the rack periodically and are happy to see the coats coming and going (we keep the rack in the front entryway so staff need not be involved in the process). It seems to be working out well.”
She also mentioned that a library patron asked her (with the best intentions) about what happens if someone comes and takes all the coats? McBride responded, “That’s kind of the point.”
You can find more information about the coat rack (and all the other cool stuff OPL does!) on the Osceola Public Library’s Facebook page
- Lisa Von Drasek, Curator, Children’s Literature Research Collection, U of M
- Olivia Morris, MILI Program Manager, Metronet
- Heidi Hammond, Associate Professor, MLIS Program, St. Catherine University
- Heather Palmer, Library Media Specialist, Valley View Middle School, Edina (MLIS/SLMS alum)
- Laura Givern, Library Media Specialist, Parkview Center School, Roseville (MLIS/SLMS alum)
Her project, titled Tunnels, Pools, and Ghosts: Exploring Space at St. Catherine University, can be viewed here.
Associate Professor, Sarah Park Dahlen will be traveling to the Library of Congress this month to participate in the inauguration celebration for the next National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (www.read.gov/cfb/ambassador/).
Jamie Martin (2006) is a nominee for three openings on the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Council. The election will be held in March 2018. Jamie is a corporate archivist for IBM in the greater New York City area.
Linda Mork (2015) is the new Minitex Reference Outreach and Instruction Librarian.
Ian Holmes (2017) will be the new Information and Instructional Services Librarian working with technology and public services at the Framingham Public Library in Framingham, MA.
The Special Libraries Association Student Chapter (SLA), along with SLA-MN & MALL, raised over $1,000 at their Holiday Party on Friday, December 8. Funds raised during the silent auction will be used as a stipend for a student to attend the 2018 SLA Annual Conference in Baltimore. Thank you to everyone who donated, sponsored and bid on items!
SLA is now on Twitter! Follow at @StKateSLA.
— That’s me, Trish Vaillancourt. I am in my second year at St. Kate’s and enjoying the program very much. It is exciting to be back at school after getting my undergraduate degrees last century. Please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions for the newsletter. Also, I like cats…a lot.