National Library Week 2015

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National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

All this week at the School of Information we are featuring historic highlights, a few illustrious graduates and a current student planning a career in library service.

Did you know…

The Department of Library Science was created by the Regents of the University of Michigan in 1926. The first class of 34 graduated in 1927 with an ABLS degree.

In 1927, the American Library Association accredited the program; Michigan is one of the longest, continually accredited library programs in the ALA's history.

In 1948, the department ended its undergraduate program and instituted an AMLS degree and a doctoral degree.
In 1969, the Library Science department became the School of Library Science. In 1986, the school changed its name to the School of Information and Library Studies. Ten years later, in 1996, the school changed again, with a new charter and a new name: The School of Information.

In 2014, the first undergraduate class since 1948 entered the school, enrolled in the new bachelor of science in information program. On May 1, 26 will graduate with the BSI degree.

There are currently 7,887 alumni of the School of Information.

John F. Szabo (MILS ’92) is the City Librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library, which serves over four million people—the largest population of any public library in the United States.  He oversees the Central Library, 72 branches and the library’s $143 million budget.  In 2014, 14 million people visited the library and borrowed 15 million items.

Under his leadership, the Library’s major initiatives include those related to immigrant integration and citizenship, improving financial literacy and providing health resources and programs.  He has expanded the library’s reach into the city’s diverse communities through partnerships with several community-based organizations.

He has more than 20 years of leadership experience in public libraries, previously serving as the director of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, Clearwater (FL) Public Library System, Palm Harbor (FL) Public Library and Robinson (IL) Public Library District.  Throughout his career, Szabo has championed innovative library services that address critical community needs in areas including health disparities, workforce development, adult literacy, school readiness and emergent literacy for preschoolers. 

Szabo received his master’s degree in information and library studies at University of Michigan and his bachelor’s degree in telecommunications from University of Alabama. He completed the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.  He also participated in a Group Study Exchange with Rotary International, visiting libraries and archives in Sicily and the Aeolian Islands. 

He is currently serving on the Board of Trustees of OCLC and the Board of Directors for Cal Humanities, Califa and the University of Southern California Center for Library Leadership and Management and MMLIS.  He has previously served on the Executive Board of the Urban Libraries Council and as president of the Florida Library Association.

In 2010, he was honored with the Alumni Achievement Award by the UMSI Alumni Society Board.

Paul Conway is an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information. He teaches courses on digitization, preservation, archives, and the ethics of new technologies. His research encompasses the digitization of cultural heritage resources, particularly photographic archives, the use of digitized resources by experts in a variety of humanities contexts, and the measurement of image and text quality in large-scale digitization programs. He is a pioneer in charting the challenges and opportunities that digital information technologies present to preservation and archival science. He has held positions at the National Archives and Records Administration (1977-87; 1989-92), the Society of American Archivists (1988-89), Yale University (1992-2001), and Duke University (2001-06).

Professor Conway is currently at work on several archive projects, including curating a collection of 40 years of Voice of America’s “Music Time in Africa” radio programs, developing a digital aggregator to support research on peoples of the Great Lakes Region, and preserving music recordings of live performances over two decades at The Ark, a nationally known folk and acoustic music venue in Ann Arbor.

He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. In 2011, he was awarded the Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize for his use of social media to teach undergraduate writing on ethics and technology. In 2005, he received the American Library Association's Paul Banks and Carolyn Harris Preservation Award for his contributions to the preservation field. He is a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists.

 While attending a library conference in Texas, first-year MSI student Kathy Kosinski looked around and said to herself, “These are my people. This is what I want to do.”

She had been working as a marketing and publicity intern at a publishing house in Dallas, which allowed her to explore many aspects of the book world. Ultimately, however, she decided the business aspect of publishing wasn’t for her and started looking into library programs.

As a graduate of the University of Michigan, with a BA in English and Spanish, she naturally considered pursuing her graduate degree here, but it was the far-reaching information curriculum that brought her to UMSI.

 “I liked that it wasn’t just library science,” Kathy says. “You have the whole other aspect that involves programming, which allows you to really become a jack of all trades. I love the all-inclusive information aspect.”
Originally interested in archives in records management, she decided that being able to add a human-computer interaction focus to her library and information science specialization would be the best fit for her.

She is currently a member of the American Library Association chapter at U-M and is becoming more involved in the School of Information Social Justice (SISJ) group.

She still wants to pursue a career in libraries, although she now sees herself in a user-experience librarian role that manages resource access, websites, collection layouts, and other technical aspects that shape modern libraries.

“It has been real interesting to see how information and how my degree can help people," Kathy says. "Often, you hear people talk about how great their next app or program will be, but here, you actually get to see how it can affect others and do good in the world.”

What the Future Holds

Josie Parker (MILS ‘96), Director of the Ann Arbor District Library, shares her thoughts on current and future trends in libraries:

1. Our most ardent library users and best advocates are our most technologically proficient users.
2. The book is a ubiquitous concept unrelated to format.
3. Our value as a public good is firmly established, and libraries no longer rely on soft money to fund core services.
4. Our staff is indistinguishable from our users at all points of service.
5. A librarian's most meaningful work likely occurs away from the public desk.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this week highlighting some of our contributions to the library field. Until next year!

National Library Week, April 10 - 16, 2016