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Wayne State University

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Mar 28 / Christine Illichmann

#InspireOpportunity with SLIS Scholarships

The School of Library and Information Science offers over 25 scholarship opportunities for students. On April 4 Wayne State University Giving Day will provide donors with an opportunity to support SLIS and the scholarships provided to students. If you choose to participate in Giving Day, please consider specifying your donation for the scholarships below or the many other scholarships  we offer. Learn more about Giving Day and the ways Wayne State University is building community to #InspireOpportunity on the Giving Day web page.

Gloria A. Francis Memorial Endowed Scholarship
The Gloria A. Francis Memorial Endowed Scholarship is open to any graduate student enrolled in the School of Library and Information Science. Preference is given to students with a special interest and expertise in the areas of rare books and archives. Recipients are selected on the basis of scholastic achievement with a grade point average of at least 3.0 and qualities of character and leadership. Financial need may be considered. The donor assists in the selection of the winner(s).

Joseph J. Mika and Marianne Hartzell-Mika Endowed Scholarship
The Joseph J. Mika and Marianne Hartzell-Mika Endowed Scholarship is open to any graduate student enrolled in the School of Library and Information Science with a minimum 3.5 GPA. This scholarship was established by long-time SLIS Professor and former Director Joseph Mika and his wife, Marianne Hartzell-Mika, to recognize high scholastic achievement and to assist students currently working in a library.

Diane M. Rockall Scholarship
The Diane M. Rockall Scholarship is available to any graduate student enrolled in the School of Library and Information Science. Recipients will be selected based on scholastic achievement (a minimum grade point average of 3.5) and financial need.

Peter and Jane Spyers-Duran Endowed Scholarship
Peter and Jane Spyers-Duran Endowed Scholarship is open to any graduate student enrolled in the School of Library and Information Science. Recipients are selected on the basis of scholastic achievement with a grade point average of at least 3.0 and qualities of character and leadership.

Mar 26 / Christine Illichmann

Alumni Research Spotlight: Effect of Collaborative Learning on African-American Doctoral Students

Zsa-Zsa Booker is a 2012 graduate of the MLIS program. She has a PhD, also from Wayne State, in Education, Evaluation, and Research. Dr. Booker now works for the university as a Learning Skills Specialist for the Office of Learning and Teaching in the School of Medicine.

Dr. Booker and her colleagues recently presented a paper at the Hawaii International Conference on Education. We asked her to share more details about her research and her advice to students and alumni interested in presenting at a conference.

Your paper and presentation focused on the effect of collaborative learning on African-American doctoral students. Can you tell our readers more about your research and findings?

The Finish Line Doctoral Student Group Learning Community is a group of African American doctoral students who came together in the fall of 1998 in order to establish a community and support for each other. The group started with 5 people and has now grown to more than 100 members, with more than 35 graduates who has earned their degrees. The group grew by word of mouth and continues to grow each year.

The purpose of this paper, presented at the Hawaii International Conference on Education, was to do the following: consider the sociological, organizational, and psychological frameworks for collaborative learning; examine supportive practices that promote achievement and degree completion for Black doctoral students; motivate session attendees to reflect on the hidden curriculum and the obstacles it places in front of degree completion; encourage session participants to form their own collaborative learning groups and mentoring networks.

According to the literature, from 2012-2013 academic year 175,038 doctoral degrees were conferred in the United States, and of this number 12,084 or 6.9% of those degrees were conferred to African American students, with 110,775 or 63.3% of those degrees conferred to White students (USDE, 2016). These figures are an illustration of the large disparity in doctoral degree attainment between African American and White students. The original 5 members saw that they were the only African Americans in their classrooms (student or instructor), witnessed a hidden curriculum, and experience some isolation. The learning community was established based on a need at a Midwestern higher education institution, a need for more support for these students of color. Although, most of the literature on Learning Communities focus on undergraduate communities, the fact still remains that there has been evidence that they have a positive impact on student retention.

The Finish Line group was implemented as a support group and turned into to so much more. Some of the accomplishments of the group include weekly study groups, mentoring, professional development, and academic planning to name a few of the ways the group helps to support each other. This is a huge part of why this group has been so successful, the group has found a way to fully integrate academic and social activities. Sociological, organizational, and psychological theories provide a foundation for learning communities. Sociological theories include Tinto’s Theory of Student Departure, Student Integration Model, and Interactionalist Theory (Ackerman & Schibrowsky, 2008; Braxton, Hirschy, & McClendon, 2004; Kuh & Love, 2000; Tinto, 1988, 1993).  The Theory of Student Departure consists of three stages – separation, transition, and integration. Likewise, the Student Integration Model and Interactionalist Theory consist of academic integration and social integration constructs. The common component for all three theories is integration e.g. students who fully integrate academically and socially with the institutional culture will persist to degree completion. The group continues to thrive and more graduates continue to come from this learning community each year.

How can students and alumni can apply your research to their school or work lives?

This information is applicable in many ways, but it mostly provides students with a framework of how to create a support system, when it does not already exist in your institution or community. This group started with 5 people, who saw challenges in their academic setting and they found a way to change it. Students are and have to be their own best advocates for their education.

What are the benefits of attending a large, international-level conference? Do you have any advice for students and alumni who may be considering participation in an international conference?

The Hawaii International Conference was a great way to network and learn from educators from all over the globe. I would highly recommend that students attend at least one professional conference each year. I was able to gain more theoretical and practical knowledge, but most importantly I was able to come back more motivated to do better! My advice would be to plan ahead and decide on your sessions before attendance, this makes it easier to focus on learning, networking, and having a good time!



Mar 3 / Christine Illichmann

Professor Hook Participates in International Conference in Malta

Professor Peter Hook recently returned from Malta where he gave a talk entitled Visualizing Knowledge Organization Systems: Context, Frameworks, Steps, and Exemplars, at an international workshop of information professionals in Valletta, Malta.

The three-day workshop, Observatory for Knowledge Organisation Systems, had the express purpose of exploring the necessary components of assembling a research tool that would facilitate comparisons and contextualization of different knowledge organization systems (classification and categorization schemes, taxonomies, ontologies, controlled vocabularies, etc.).

Professor Hook’s contribution was to speak as to the potential of information visualization to assist in this endeavor.  His main thesis was that linked data is not enough.  There needs to be another associative hook that rigorously distributes topics in space such as the co-assignment of subject headings to specific works.

There was a diverse network of scholars participating in the workshop—three from the United States, and the rest from Europe.  All participants were fully paid for their expenses out of a generous grant from the European Union—COST, European Cooperation in Science and Technology.  This was just one of a series of related workshops. The host city for the workshop is generally in a developing region of the European Union such as Malta or Bulgaria. Non-European participation is limited to just once during the overall grant.

Professor Hook relished making new contacts with like-minded academics and scholars and he anticipates that the workshop will lead to additional collaborations and overseas conference opportunities.  Professor Hook found Malta exceptionally beautiful.  The sun-drenched and warm Mediterranean port-city offered a pleasant respite to the cloudy and cold, Michigan winter.

For more information on the workshop visit:

Feb 10 / Christine Illichmann

Winter 2017 Ronald Raven Annual Award Winner Announced

Raven Annual Award graphic

SLIS and History graduate student Alexandrea Penn has been named as the winter 2017 Ronald Raven Annual Award Winner. This honor is awarded to students each fall and winter semester and consists of a tuition stipend and a semester-long internship at the Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs.

During the fall 2016 semester, Alexandrea began working alongside audiovisual archivist Deborah Rice at the Walter P. Reuther Library on the campus of Wayne State University. Alexandrea’s work has contributed to improvements in the organization and description of the Wayne State University Photograph collection in preparation for the university’s sesquicentennial celebration.

Originally from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Alexandrea moved to Detroit to pursue graduate studies in history and archival administration. She has previously worked at the Michigan History Center at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum and also volunteered for the Marquette Regional History Center. Alexandrea pursued available opportunities at the Reuther Library to further explore her interest in archives. As Alexandrea explained in her award application letter, “Working at the Reuther has enabled me to become involved in the daily workings of an archive. I am able to put what I am learning in the classroom directly into work, and vice versa.”

Alexandrea will continue her work at the Reuther throughout the winter semester.

Congratulations to Alexandrea on behalf of all of us at the School of Library and Information Science and thank you for your work at the Reuther!



Jan 31 / Christine Illichmann

Wayne State Receives Continued ALA Accreditation

Wayne State ALA Accreditation Logo

At its meeting on January 22, 2017, the Committee on Accreditation (COA) of the American Library Association voted to grant continued accreditation status to the program leading to the degree of Master of Library and Information Science at Wayne State University’s School of Library and Information Science. The next comprehensive review visit is scheduled for fall 2023. We extend our thanks to everyone who participated in this process for all of your hard work.  Many congratulations on reaching this important milestone!

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the accredited program at Wayne State.  In recognition of this important milestone, we are debuting the above logo that we will employ for the rest of 2017.

Stephen T. Bajjaly
Associate Dean and Professor
School of Library & Information Science
Wayne State University, Detroit, MI


Nov 14 / Matthew Fredericks

ALA 2017 Student-to-Staff Program – Applications Now Being Accepted!

ALA Student-to-Staff Program

Students may now apply to be selected to participate in the ALA Student-to-Staff Program during the 2017 Annual Conference to be held from June 22 to June 27 in Chicago, Illinois. ALA will provide free conference registration, housing (five nights), and a per diem ($200 total) in exchange for a total of 16 hours of work (typically four hours per day) during conference. The student should be available to work on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  Students will receive a short questionnaire to help match them with appropriate ALA staff.  Based on their assignment, students may be expected to perform a range of duties from clerical, to sales, to use of computers. The student will be responsible for travel to San Francisco and local travel expenses.

To qualify, the student must be a personal member of ALA at the time they submit their applications. Students who will graduate in May 2017 may apply.  Students who have already participated in the program are not eligible. Service to the Wayne State University ALA Student Chapter will be considered, but any eligible student may apply since the WSU Chapter does not require an official membership..

If you wish to be considered, you should send a brief application to SLIS at The deadline for the application is Monday, November 21, 2016 at noon. The application should include:

  1. Your name
  2. Contact information
  3. Status in the program including number of credit hours completed and GPA
  4. Your ALA Membership Number
  5. A short statement of between 50 and 250 words about why you should be selected to represent Wayne State University


Since there are more accredited ALA library and information science programs than available slots, there is a small chance that ALA will not select the nominee from Wayne State University, but this is unlikely since the School will submit its nomination earlier than usual this year.

To learn more about ALA’s Student to Staff Program, click on the website below.

SLIS 2015 ALA Student-to-Staff representive Edras Rodriguez-Torres

SLIS 2015 ALA Student-to-Staff representive Edras Rodriguez-Torres (left)

Nov 14 / Matthew Fredericks

Smithsonian Gardens 2017 Winter/Spring Internship Opportunities

dsc_0538The Smithsonian Gardens provides an exceptionally well-rounded array of experiences in its intern program thanks to the wide diversity of services it offers to the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum complex. Interns will learn skills in a broad range of horticultural endeavors from SI’s expert professional staff and can provide a strong practical background to emerging professionals hoping to enter the public gardening world.


We accept current and recently graduated undergraduate and graduate students studying horticulture, landscape architecture, museum studies, or other related fields.  Selection is based on both an evaluation of the applicant’s application and available positions.


Opportunities include:

§  Education and Outreach

§  Archives of American Gardens

§  Landscape Architecture

§  Greenhouse Intern



Applications for internships should be received no later than the dates listed below.


Winter/Spring Internships: December 1

Summer Internships: February 1

            Fall internships: May 15


Requirements for applying to the Smithsonian Garden intern program:

Submit an on-line application
Two letters of recommendation
College transcript(s)
Essay describing background, interest in field, career goals and chosen project.

To apply for an internship, applicants must create an account and submit an application online to the Smithsonian Online Academic Application System (SOLAA) at .


Further details about the internship and how to apply can be found on our website at .

We’d appreciate if you could forward this information to any students who may be interested an internship with Smithsonian Gardens!


Description: Description: 733400f3xccl0.gif

Office:  600 Maryland Avenue SW, Suite 3300, Washington, DC 20024

Mailing:  PO BOX 37012, Capital Gallery 3300,  MRC 506, Washington DC 20013-7012
T: 202-633-5840

Nov 9 / Kimberly Schroeder

Cover Letters for Information Jobs

No matter the type of information job that you are seeking, the field has some basic recommendations for cover letters.


First, examine the job posting and dissect it.  Look at what skills and traits seem to be the central focus.  Once you look at the top five or so, chose two or three skills/traits that are also your strongest.  Focus your letter on those skills and build your narrative in support of those aspects.


Because the discipline often looks for such a wide variety of skills, you can not address everything in a cover letter, so try and focus on the institution’s most important skills that also match your abilities.


Selling your strengths is important and blanket statements fall short.  It is not convincing to say, “I have strong people skills.”  The statement needs support. In what ways are you good with people?  Give examples. Think of anecdotes that illustrate real situations that show your skill.


For example “Your job posting cites that you are looking for someone with strong people skills.  I have six years experience in customer service.  In this capacity I have often solved tough problems such as…… and I worked with the customer by….”


Professionals in the field often comment about limitations that they see in cover letters. Below are some tips from potential employers.


Nancy Bartlett, Associate Director, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan gives this recommendation:

“A good cover letter tells a compelling story and demonstrates equal measures of passion and results.  A good letter does not simply repeat a resume in narrative form.  It instead matches the applicant’s qualifications with the essential needs of the posting. It convinces the reader that this applicant has the skills, education, and life experience to enrich the institution and accomplish the work required.”


SLIS Alumni, Cathy Russ, Director of Troy Public Library, breaks down her advice into two clear categories:


  • Please pay attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, mechanics. If you have a sloppy cover letter or resume, I am going to think you will do sloppy work on the job.
  • You do not have to give me your life story in your cover letter—save something for the interview! I would like to know what you are most proud of, what you think should be highlighted. The cover letter should be no more than one page.
  • Be familiar with forms of address, i.e. “Dear Ms. Russ,” and show appropriate respect. I get “Dear Cathy Russ” a lot and it’s just weird.


  • The best cover letter is one where we get a sense of who you are. Don’t be afraid to be you—just be the best version of you! The best cover letters I see are the ones where I feel like I’ve gotten to know the person from tone, style, etc.
  • I love when people talk about what they are proud of, what they’ve accomplished, what they hope to do, what they enjoy. It feels so positive and also gives me a sense of the person.
  • The best cover letters/resumes are focused and it is clear that the applicant knows what he or she wants, not just the job but that you want to be a Youth Services Librarian.”


Developing the terminology for describing your skills can be a challenge.  Consult a thesaurus or a solid career building site. Look at this one for a start :


As a summary, be sure to include:


  • Be concise but spend a few sentences on each of the skills/traits that you have chosen to highlight.
  • Include some reference to the institution and its accomplishments, trends, publications, grants received, something that shows that you are aware of their organization.
  • Express why you want to work there, specifically.
  • Close the letter professionally and mention your hope to further discuss the position.


Feel free to contact your Career Advisor for one-on-one assistance.

Kim Schroeder at

Oct 24 / LaTeesa James

SLIS Alums Pioneer Seed Exchange Programs in Urban and Rural Libraries

Melissa Armstrong (left), MLIS ’10, Caro Area District Library Assistant Director.

Melissa Armstrong (left), MLIS ’10, Caro Area District Library Assistant Director. Image from

In the farm country of Michigan’s “thumb”, the Caro Area District Library’s Seed Lending Project, now in its 4th season is steadily taking root. The program was initiated by SLIS alum Melissa Armstrong, MLIS ’10, the library’s Assistant Director. Though first introduced to seed saving by her grandmother a long time ago, the idea to implement such a program at her library came to Armstrong when she participated in a webinar in Iowa (through the Seed Savers Exchange) that gave information on seed sharing.

The program cost very little money to start, since most of the seeds are donated by the local seed exchange for free. Armstrong also plants and harvests seeds in the one square-foot garden located in the library’s backyard. She said it provides a good break in her work day.

All of the seeds are heirloom seeds and open pollinated seeds. “These aren’t the kind of seeds you get from Walmart,” notes Armstrong. For example, one type of seed available for exchange is Blue Jade Sweet Corn from 200 years ago or longer.

The library keeps the seeds directly on the floor where books are located. Patrons can fill out a piece of paper labeling what they are “borrowing.”

In the first year of the program the library had a “Seed-Pass out” where a local gardener came in to talk to the community about seed sharing.

In the second year of the program, Armstrong worked with the Michigan State University Extension office, which serves 12,000 people, to arrange additional assistance with the program. They came into the library and taught classes on topics such as, canning, composting, cooking and bee keeping. This was a free service the library offered to the community since MSU provided the speakers at no charge. A class in August covered “How to Put Your Garden to Bed.” Armstrong said that the classes always have good number of people participating.

If someone were interested in starting a seed exchange program in their library, Armstrong advises them to start by visiting the website and by viewing the webinars for the Seed Savers Exchange at:

Overall, seed saving provides a good opportunity to “bond with the community, reach out and network,” Ms. Armstrong said.

Armstrong will share her knowledge of seed libraries at the Michigan Library Association Conference in October 2016 in a presentation called “Select, Sow, Share” – Seed Libraries for Community Engagement and Wellness. She will be part of a panel with her co-worker Mary Russell of Caro Area District Library and Tamarack District Library, and organic farmer and heirloom seed enthusiast Ben Cohen. They will answer the “root” question: why have a seed library? Additionally, they will share best practice tips, program tools, and practical expertise, and describe the many ways in which their programs have benefited both the library and the community.





SLIS alum Katherine Bryant, MLIS ’10

600 miles south, SLIS alum Katherine Bryant, MLIS ’10, coordinates the Seed Exchange Program at the Bellevue Branch of Nashville Public Library where she is the Branch Manager.

A former volunteer with WSU’s SEED Wayne with a longstanding interest in issues of food justice, Bryant’s interest was sparked when she found that a lot of other US public libraries were starting seed exchange programs. She began planning to implement the program at her library in 2013. The seed exchange program took off in early spring of 2014.

“The goal of the program is to get people gardening and helping them to develop self-sufficiency by growing their own food,” Bryant said.

Bryant started by soliciting seed donations from local farmers and national seed companies. For the last 2 years they have purchased some of the seeds because donations from the community members that borrow the seeds have been slow.

The seed exchange works by allowing patrons with Nashville Public Library cards to “check out” a packet of seeds. The seeds are not actually catalogued or coded though. A Google form is used to keep track of what kind of seed has been borrowed. Patrons are not required to bring seeds back.

Some of the programming for the seed exchange include: seed starting, how to save seeds, fall gardening, container gardening, bee keeping, composting, etc. The programs are led by local county Master Gardner’s Group, which is an organization that provides volunteer services centered on informing the public in the area of residential and consumer horticulture. The organization offered to facilitate 2 free programs each month out of 10 months of the year.

The program has not changed much since it started. However, at the end of this fall, they will have a season wrap up, which will include a session dedicated to improvements and new ideas for the program.

The programming always gets lots of participation from the community, to date boasting over 550 total attendees. Overall, the seed exchange program has been very successful with over 1,100 people having “checked out” seeds and over 8,000 packets of seeds have been “checked out.”

If a library wanted to start a seed exchange program, Bryant says, “they should start by surveying the community to see if it is something that the community wants and/or needs.” Next, she said she would find people who are enthusiastic and passionate about gardening to support the program. Currently she and her staff along with other librarians do the work of sorting and packaging seeds.

In June 2015 Bryant shared details of Nashville’s program at the Allied Media Conference which is held, coincidentally, on Wayne State’s campus right across from the Kresge Library where she had once taken LIS classes. Her presentation, Public Libraries & Food Justice: Plant Seeds of Success, argued that libraries should “join the fight for food justice and sustainable agriculture.”

Sep 13 / Veronica Johnson

Archival Fellowship at Institute of Jazz Studies

This past June I completed a two week fellowship at the Institute of Jazz Studies (IJS) at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ. Every summer, IJS recruits three MLIS graduate students with an interest in archives and music to be a part of their Archival Fellowship Program, which was established in 2011 to support archival career development, as well as to promote diversity in the archival field. As an avid jazz fan and aspiring music archivist, I am very interested in working at a music archive once I graduate, so this was an amazing opportunity to be able to intern at IJS since it specializes in jazz scholarship. During the fellowship, two other fellows, myself and the IJS archivists processed a collection belonging to jazz pianist Andrew Hill.

SLIS Student Veronica Johnson

SLIS Student Veronica Johnson

Hill was a jazz pianist during the 1960s, and made a resurgence on the music scene during the late 90s and early 2000s before passing away in 2007. His widow Joanne Hill donated the collection to IJS to be made available to researchers. The items in his collection included professional and personal items collected throughout his lifetime including news clippings, correspondence, honorary degrees from various colleges, photos, awards and sheet music. After the processing took place, we ended up with 27 boxes of material. We also created the finding aid for the collection, which is titled the “Guide to the Andrew Hill papers, music and audiovisual recordings, 1956-2011.” Each of the fellows worked on a portion of the finding aid and used the EAD finding aid software Oxygen to code the document so it could made available online. I had previously learned about Oxygen and EAD in my Electronic Archives class so it was very cool to be able to get some hands on experience using the software. We also created an online exhibit of the collection using Omeka, which is an open source web-publishing platform that allows libraries, museums, and archival institutions to create web exhibitions of their collections.

In addition to working on the collection, we took field trips to other area archival institutions.Some of the places we visited included the The New York Public Library Archival Processing Center, the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center and the National Jazz Museum of Harlem. We were given private tours of their facilities and learned more about their collections. My favorite trip out of the bunch was visiting the Louis Armstrong House Museum and Archive. The Louis Armstrong Archive is located at Queens College, so we were given a tour of the archive by archivist Ricky Ricardi, and we toured Armstrong’s house which is located in Corona Queens.

Completing the IJS fellowship at Rutgers was an amazing experience and one that I will forever be grateful for. I learned so much about processing and the steps it takes to make a collection available to users. Working on the Andrew Hill Collection was great, and it really gave me the opportunity to process a larger collection, which I had never done before. I learned a lot about Hill and quickly became a fan of his work, which was very innovative.

The IJS Fellows program really gives graduate students the opportunity to be archivists for two weeks and get a real sense of the day to day tasks of the profession. The IJS staff is awesome and really made me feel welcome and a part of the team. I also developed some great friendships with the other fellows and am so thankful that I was able to take advantage of this great opportunity.

For more information about the program and the 2016 IJS fellows, check out the Rutgers University Libraries news article below:

The Andrew Hill finding aid at Institute of Jazz Studies: