“Relationship-building is critical to any type of archive – you cannot build an archives without that. It really smashes the stereotype of the archivist as being an antisocial person who hoards over the records, never to share them with anyone. Getting out there and then – once you have the materials – getting them out to an even wider audience is key, and critical.” – Wayne State University Archivist, Alison Stankrauff.
Alison Stankrauff is, first and foremost, a people person. As the new University Archivist, she is responsible for maintaining 150 years of institutional memory for Wayne State University. However, Alison understands that behind every document, video, photo, and file, there is a person on campus who was there in the moment that each bit of history was created. And one of her primary goals is to know each of those people.
The effectiveness of Alison’s philosophy of outreach has been proven over time. Prior to coming to Wayne State, she spent thirteen years at Indiana University, South Bend, where she held the position of Campus Archivist and Associate Librarian. When she began at IU South Bend in 2004, there had not been a professional archivist on campus in more than ten years, and she quickly went to work building relationships with departments and creating processes and procedures to preserve university history.
“As an archivist – particularly as a University Archivist – it’s really all about relationships. During my time particularly at IU South Bend I made sure to ‘get out there’ on campus and out into the wider community,” Alison explained. “In thirteen years I was able to really establish strong relationships to grow the archives there. And I very much want to do the same here at Wayne State for the University Archives.”
Prior to her work at IU South Bend Alison was an archivist at the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati from 2002 to 2004. However, the move to Detroit was a homecoming of sorts for Alison who graduated from the Master of Library and Information Science program with a focus in Archival Administration in 2002. Changes and growth in Detroit as well as on the Wayne State University campus have come as a pleasant surprise.
“I love the city of Detroit. When I was in the SIS Program I lived in the city – just a few blocks from campus (at Second and Forest). And I now live in the New Center area and love it! The University has grown so much since my time fifteen years ago – and I see the changes as really positive. Campus is so lively all hours – deep into the night.”
Alison brings more than just immense professional experience and a talent for relationship building – she also brings experience as a mentor to other archivists. In 2016 she co-wrote Stankrauff, Alison H.; Sommer, Tom; and Ganz, Michelle (2016) “The How and Why of Mentoring,” Journal of Western Archives: Vol. 7: Iss. 1, Article 2. Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/westernarchives/vol7/iss1/2.
“I’ve been both a mentee and a mentor. I’ve found that helping others in the profession – whether peers who are practicing archivists or budding archivists in archives programs – has been really rewarding. I’ve served as the Chair of the Society of American Archivists Mentoring Program. And the people that I’ve mentored I can now count as colleagues in the profession as well as friends. As a mentee, my very first mentor was the Reuther’s very own (awesome) Mary Wallace, Audiovisual Archivist, while I was a student worker here at the Reuther Library. And now she’s a colleague!“
As Alison settles in to her new role as University Archivist, she has one important project in mind – in 2018, Wayne State University celebrates its 150th anniversary.
“Celebrating 150 years is a big deal – and the campus’ historian has an integral role in that. I’ve been doing much research on various aspects of the University through time, including its vibrant diversity through the decades: the many different groups that Wayne has given an opportunity to. I’m working on the 150th exhibit here with colleagues that will kick off the entire Sesquicentennial for the University here in January at the Reuther Library. I’m also on the University-wide Sesquicentennial Committee.“
When the anniversary passes, Alison will ensure that the mechanisms are in place to capture the next 150 years of university history. She will continue to build important relationships and work with each school and department to ensure their milestones are preserved and recorded. Alison is ready to meet the challenge, and you can be certain she will continue to reach out to the campus community to build key relationships.
“I’m also doing my utmost to do lots of outreach to as many portions of the Wayne State University campus community as I can to let them know that I’m here to help them, and I’m interested in their records. Meeting people across the campus has been fun – and I plan to do as much of it as I can to grow the University Archives!”
Welcome back, Alison!
SIS professor Kafi Kumasi is highly involved in the library and information field. The lessons she teaches in her courses are built on her professional experiences and projects, providing real-world insights. Her writing, mentoring, and volunteer work reflect her mission to make the library and information field more diverse and inclusive.
A snapshot of Dr. Kumasi’s summer and fall activities provides a peek at her involvement in many areas of LIS education:
In August 2017, Dr. Kumasi presented with some of her mentees at the National Conference of African American Librarians (NCAAL). Dr. Kumasi served as mentor for the Wayne State SIS Project IDoL cohort (Increasing Diversity of Librarians), a three-year project focusing on “recruiting, mentoring, and providing an online Master of Library and Information Science degree to 10 students from historically underrepresented groups in order to achieve greater diversity among practicing library professionals.”
Her mentorship work continued throughout the summer as she participated in the Lilead Project 2017-2018 Cohort Summer Institute – a weeklong professional development program for school library district supervisors held at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. Dr. Kumasi mentored four school librarians on their projects, which are each aimed at transform school libraries into future ready programs
Dr. Kumasi’s work is frequently published, and the summer of 2017 is a prime example of this. She published a journal article in the May 2017 issue of School Library Connection entitled “Let the Dodo Bird Speak: A Rejoinder on Diversity in Children’s and Young Adult Literature”. She also co-authored a book chapter on Libraries and Diversity in Children’s and Young Adult Literature for Dr. Violet Harris, Professor Emeritus at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne.
In August, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) announced the selection of Dr. Kumasi’s paper entitled “Doin’ the Knowledge: Using Hip Hop as Framework to Study Youth New Media Practices.” She will present the paper at YALSA’s Trends Impacting YA Services session at the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting.
In addition to articles and scholarly publications, she is currently working on a book entitled, “Hip Hop Librarianship: A Handbook for School and Public Librarians”, which will be published through ALA Editions.
Dr. Kumasi has also served on multiple executive and advisory boards, including Project READY and the Executive Board of YALSA at the 2017 ALA Annual meeting in Chicago.
With a busy summer behind her, Dr. Kumasi has no plans to slow down. Her impactful work continues and is an asset to the School of Information Sciences and the LIS world. To learn more about Dr. Kafi Kumasi and her work, visit her faculty profile on the SIS website: http://sis.wayne.edu/faculty/bio.php?id=43369
The School of Information Sciences 50th Anniversary Event on Friday, September 8, was a celebration filled with music, history, and appreciation for students, alumni, and faculty. The event featured a ceremony honoring award and scholarship recipients, as well as student organization officers. Incoming Dean Dr. Jon Cawthorne was welcomed and outgoing Dean Dr. Sandy Yee was celebrated for her leadership of the WSU Library System. Kim Schroeder gave an overview of the history of the School and shared documents and photos highlight the program history. The music of Detroit icon Melvin Davis and his band filled the room, with star vocalist Pat Lewis singing as attendees danced the night away.
As we prepare to celebrate 50 years of ALA accreditation, we’re taking a look back at the history of the School of Information Sciences. This week we’re covering 1881 to 1967, plus a photo of the Class of ’68!
The Detroit Normal Training School, forerunner of the College of Education is established.
Detroit Teachers College begins offering training for elementary school librarians in the Detroit Public Schools.
Miss Martha Pritchard is appointed supervising instructor of school libraries for the Detroit Public Schools. This gives her jurisdiction over students enrolled in Library Science courses in the College.
Detroit Teachers College becomes one of the colleges of Wayne University and a graduate school is formed.
The Graduate Catalog for 1934/35 lists three ”library” courses.
Mrs. Lois Place is named Director of School Libraries and remains in this role for twenty-one years until her retirement in 1955.
The first master’s degree (M.Ed.) in school librarianship is awarded.
Mrs. Florence Damon Cleary succeeds Mrs. Place and becomes Chairman, Department of Library Science, College of Education.
Wayne University becomes Wayne State University by Act 183 of the Michigan Public Acts of 1956.
Wayne State University establishes the graduate professional Library Science degree (M.S.L.S.). Prior to this time, the only degree was the M.Ed. with a specialization in school librarianship.
Mrs. Cleary retires as Chairman and is succeeded by Dr. Robert E. Booth.
The Department now prepares public, academic, and special librarians, in addition to its earlier single-purpose interest in elementary and secondary school librarianship.
The Library Science Department submits Self-Study for American Library Association and on the faculty are: Robert E. Booth, Professor; Margaret Hayes Grazier, Associate Professor; Patricia B. Knapp, Associate Professor; Carl Orgren, Assistant Professor; Fred Pfister, Assistant Professor; Gloria Dardarian Sniderman, Instructor; Lenore Marchand, Instructor; Donna Taylor, Instructor; and Phyllis VanOrden, Instructor.
The M.S.L.S. degree program is accredited by the American Library Association.
Student organizations at Wayne State School of Information Science offer students an opportunity to pursue professional interests, network with others and learn more on specific topics outside of the classroom. They also offer experiences and leadership opportunities that make excellent additions to resumes and CVs. Most organizations offer ways for students to participate regardless of location, so virtual students can play a part no matter where they may be located.
AYSL – Aspiring Youth and School Librarians
Aspiring Youth and School Librarians (AYSL) is a student group at Wayne State University’s School of Library and Information Science. It provides a forum for students interested in youth librarianship, education, and media to learn about and discuss youth information services in all of its forms. We have monthly meetings during the school year to critically evaluate children’s literature or attend a presentation by a current professional. We maintain an online presence to discuss current topics and trends or to alert members of potential learning opportunities.
You can visit their Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1620739408159756/
And read their blog at: https://ayslwsu.wordpress.com/
ASIS&T – Association for Information Science and Technology
The mission of the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) is to advance the information sciences and related applications of information technology by providing focus, opportunity, and support to information professionals and organizations. The Wayne State student chapter of ASIS&T aims to provide career development opportunities, online and in-person, for students in the field of information science and technology. Members present programming such as: webinars, film screenings, panel discussions and presentations, attend ASIS&T events and participate in special projects, where they interact and connect with other students, practitioners, researchers and professors in the field.
Students interested in joining the student chapter for the 2017-18 academic year, launching in September, should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved and receive a special invite to the cohort’s Slack group.
Follow the WSU Chapter of ASIS&T on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asistwsu/
FLID – Future Librarians for Inclusivity and Diversity
Future Librarians for Inclusivity and Diversity (FLID) provides a safe space for up and coming library and information science (LIS) professionals to gain a better understanding of diversity within the profession and underserved populations. In preparation for working with individuals from these groups, FLID’s mission will be to expose SIS students to issues surrounding diverse cultures, lifestyles, physical abilities, and religious beliefs within the LIS field.
The organization promotes awareness by organizing on and off-campus events (social, educational or otherwise) for SIS students to learn about, exchange ideas, and perhaps resolve issues surrounding diversity and inclusion in LIS.
Follow FLID on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FLIDwsu/
NDSA – The National Digital Stewardship Alliance
The National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA) has agreed to partner with Wayne State University’s School of Library and Information Science for their first ever student chapter. Students joining this group delve into the issues of Digital Preservation, assist in the development of outreach education for these fragile and outdated storage formats, create educational videos, and provide input to the NDSA Wiki. There is the opportunity for further research in the arena, assisting to develop standards, participating in projects, and presenting at conferences.
Follow NDSA on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wsustudentndsa/
And visit their blog: https://wsustudentndsa.wordpress.com
SAA – Society of American Archivists
The Wayne State chapter of the Society of American Archivists is a wonderful stepping stone for students with little to no experience in the archival field. SAA sets incoming students up with professionals and trained students to help better their chances at becoming full-fledged archivists post-graduation. SAA meets on a monthly basis during the Fall and Winter semesters, many times with special guests to talk a little about their specialties in the archival fields and to share advice for up-and-coming graduates. SAA also works with local professional organizations and individuals to put on workshops and presentations as a means to provide experience for our members. This past May, SAA revitalized the opportunity for members to tour information facilities around the area, including archives, historical societies, museums, and local libraries, just to name a few. Our main goals are to prepare archival students with the means to better their professional standing when they graduate with their MLIS and/or Archival Certificate.
Check ou the SAA Website: http://iis.slis.wayne.edu/saa/
Dr. Timothy Bowman, SLIS assistant professor, will be contributing a series of blog posts on the topic of Managing Digital Identity. Dr. Bowman draws on his research related to the presentation of self in online environments to help students and alumni understand the impact of digital identity on professional life.
Individual impressions create a bigger picture
As I mention in the first blog post on managing digital identity (http://blogs.wayne.edu/slis/managing-digital-identity-why-identity-matters/), how you act and the information you share with others in specific contexts will be how your audience identifies you. What I did not specifically address is that this impression will be created in a way that takes into account both your past actions and your current actions to create a new composite of an impression your audience has of you. Your past actions will have an influence on the impression an audience may have of you (across time); if you have a long history with someone, they will take this into account when forming the impressions they have of you in the current context. Thus, if you act completely out of character (not consistent with the self-presentation you’ve maintained in the past), the audience may consider you out of sorts (perhaps you are ill, have dealt with some major life event, have something else on your mind). This happens frequently in day-to-day social interaction. Why do others think this and what motivates them to either put aside this new impression as a one-time occurrence or become worried that something is amiss? How does this impact the overall impression an audience may have of you?
Change is a constant
While an audience does look for consistency, both in the current context of interaction and across time, each individual’s self-presentation strategies and identity is in constant flux. This may seem self-evident, but when we truly think about it, we realize that this suggests that our identities are ever-changing and that there may not be one, true self. How do we maintain a consistent identity and self-presentation when our own ideas about who we are change day-to-day?
If we look simply at distinguishing characteristics, we realize that these may change frequently; for example, your hair may change color (naturally or synthetically), your weight and height may fluctuate, your eye color may change, your name may change (when married), etc. If we then look at identifying the information we reveal about ourselves (self-presentation) in day-to-day social interactions, we realize that this also changes depending on various factors including our past experiences, the context in which we interact, the role we portray, and the overall impressions we want to make on our audience. A person’s identity and the way in which they present themselves change, both in the online world and in the day-to-day interactions they have offline. These changes may be consistent across both offline and online contexts or they may be very different.
The greater system and your identity
Another factor we should consider involves the social systems that we interact within. Social structures make up these systems and include norms and rules, social network ties, and the class structures in which we interact. If one were to agree with Giddens (1984), they may argue that the social system is both created by, and reinforced by, social interactions. It is an iterative process where acts both rely on and reinforce the social structures through day-to-day activities. If one were to consider online behavior like interacting on Facebook, we may look at the ways in which persons use the news feed consistently or the ways in which they describe themselves in profiles. The norms and rules of interacting on Facebook have changed since it was released in 2004. Early on, Facebook was available only to university students and used in a much different way than it is today. As early adopters began to use Facebook, certain consistencies could be identified in the ways in which they made use of the application. These consistencies became part of the norms and structures of use through both action and reinforcement. Some of the ways in which early adopters used Facebook were not planned by the designers and developers of Facebook, yet these consistent actions became part of the system and remained constant as Facebook became available to an ever-widening pool of users.
Similarly, early users of Twitter also helped develop and establish the social system of tweeting. Twitter users began using special symbols, such as a hashtag, to add special meaning to words in order to organize or distinguish tweets. This practice was continually reinforced until it became part of the structure of interaction on Twitter. Countless other examples of this behavior occur in the online world.
In the offline world, we can examine interaction in various contexts and see similar behaviors. For example, as information and library professionals with advanced degrees, you may be put in a situation where there are norms and rules dictating how you present yourself to others. As a public librarian on the reference desk, you may have certain rules and norms dictating how you can respond to a patron’s request both at a micro and a macro level. At the micro level, you have a duty to remain professional, which may entail certain rules for communicating and interacting with others. This type of library professionalism may be different from a professional in business or health, as each field has different expectations, norms, and rules on which to rely. At the macro level, libraries are in a different class from businesses or health organizations in the U.S.A., thus different rules, norms, and expectations are applied at this level as well. These social structures can influence the ways in which we identify ourselves and present ourselves to others.
These and other factors place pressure on us to act and interact with others in specific ways depending on several factors including time, context, and the roles in which we act.
In the third blog post, I will describe several incidents in which persons interacting on social media have presented themselves in ways that were detrimental to their careers.
Giddens, A. (1986). The constitution of society: Outline of the theory of structuration. Cambridge: Polity.
Puzzle pieces photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash
Soccer table photo by Mpho Mojapelo on Unsplash
In the final interview of the SLIS Leaders series, we’re talking with Doreen Hannon (MLIS ’00), recently retired director of the Salem-South Lyon District Library in South Lyon, Michigan. Even in retirement, Doreen has taken a leading role in libraries through her work with the Friends of Michigan Libraries.
You recently retired as Director of the Salem-South Lyon District Library (SSLDL). However, you’re still very active in the Salem and South Lyon communities and with Friends of Michigan Libraries. What recommendations do you have for those considering retirement but still wanting to lead and help libraries in a different way?
It’s pretty hard to leave library-land cold turkey when it has defined who you are for so many years! I’m looking at this as a gap year before I enter an encore career. My advice for finding ways to continue to lead and help libraries (post-retirement) is to think about what you are good at, what got you excited to go to work every day, because that’s where your gifts are. Sharing those gifts is a great way to give back to the profession and truthfully, when you give back, it makes you feel good! If you can engage in work that is meaningful and has a positive impact on society, you will feel a sense of purpose that you are contributing to something bigger than yourself.
I have found a great organization (well, they found me!) – the Friends of Michigan Libraries. The Friends of Michigan Libraries (FOML) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3), organization dedicated to support and advocacy for Michigan library Friends groups.
The Mission of the Friends of Michigan Libraries is
- To support Friends working on behalf of Michigan libraries.
- To serve as an information resource for Friends’ groups.
- To be advocates for libraries at the state level.
Friends of Michigan Libraries offer innovative and relevant workshops for Friends and trustees annually in the spring and fall. The Friends of Michigan Libraries fall workshop will be held Thursday, October 12th at Kent District Library and the Friends of Michigan Libraries Trustee Alliance Workshop will be Friday, October 13th also at Kent District Library.
I am now the chair of the Strategic Planning committee, chair of Social Media & Website Advisory committee, and I also serve on the budget committee. In helping grow the FOML Facebook presence I have become much more aware of libraries all across Michigan. Follow @FOMLibraries and see for yourself the incredible value that Michigan’s 396 public libraries are providing to people of all ages!
You started out at SSLDL as a clerk, and over time, became Library Director. For those starting out in their library careers, what recommendations do you have for honing leadership skills?
I absolutely love the topic of leadership! You don’t have to be at the “top” of the organizational chart to be a leader. I feel that each person in an organization is a leader in their own right and that working together as a team, great things can and will happen. It is important to continue seeking out leaders that you admire and learn from them, find books and articles written by leaders, and also podcasts. My favorite way to read is to “listen” to books and podcasts. This allows me to multi-task. When I really get serious about something I am reading or listening to, I take notes and then I share what I have learned with my colleagues and we take action!
My leadership role model is Rory Vaden, a self-discipline strategist and author of the New York Times bestseller Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success and the new national bestseller Procrastinate of Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time. I listen to all of Rory’s podcasts, The Action Catalyst with Rory Vaden which also leads me to find even more leadership books and podcasts based on who he interviews. Rory’s famous quote has become one of my favorites: “Success is never owned’ it is rented – and the rent is due every day.”
During your time at Salem-South Lyon District Library, you became known for your incredible ability to balance library expansion and improvement with thoughtful fiscal management. For instance, you paid off a debt millage, led a building expansion that added a new wing to the library, and invested in technology to increase Internet speed at the library by 650% to 150 megabits per second. Can you explain some of your methods for creating forward organizational progression while keeping an eye on budgets?
I can say that I truly LOVED my job and the people I worked with! Fiscally, I ran the library no differently than I would run my own personal finances. My parents grew up in the Depression and were extremely frugal and hard-working people. The same thing at the library, we were very frugal and each year able to set aside funds until eventually, we had saved enough to pay for the library expansion without going back to our taxpayers. We were very intentional about how the library’s tax dollars were used and we did not take lightly our responsibility to provide great value to our residents. I enjoyed being behind the scenes, making things happen at the library, but I’m sure my delight and excitement were quite contagious. My personal motto is “Little things are big things – attention to details matters!” I spent many hours working on and monitoring the budget. Having a strong team comprised of the staff, the Library Board, and the Friends of the Library multiplied my efforts. The budget committee of the Library Board worked closely with me – no stone was left unturned, and our efforts definitely paid off.
What do you recommend to libraries that are trying to prioritize what is most important to their library and community while working within a specific budget?
You cannot work in a vacuum and presume that the library knows what is best for the community! You need to immerse yourself in the community in all ways – get out there and be a part of it, read the newspapers, stay on top of social media, listen to / attend township and city council meetings, pay attention to the schools, senior citizens and everyone in between. You need to understand what the needs and challenges of the community are, and be ready to fill in the gaps. We were fortunate to obtain a grant through the Library of Michigan and Midwest Collaborative for Library Services to participate in Harwood Institute training. The Harwood Institute teaches you how to turn outward and make more intentional choices in creating positive change and relevance in your community. A third opportunity for Michigan library staff to apply for this training was just announced (deadline to apply is August 31, 2017). I would highly recommend applying for the Harwood Institute training. You can learn how to apply and more information about this initiative at: http://mcls.org/harwood2017
You’re a SLIS graduate, and at one point, every librarian on your staff had an MLIS from Wayne State SLIS and some of your circulation clerks were earning their MLIS degrees at Wayne State. What do Wayne State SLIS alumni bring to libraries and how did those traits help you and SSLDL?
I’ve always felt that Wayne State grads have a well-rounded, hit-the-ground-running degree. At SSLDL we had 20-some employees who obtained the MLIS degree at Wayne State University and I think that really contributed to the library’s success. Professors in the SLIS have a passion and integrity that is expected of students, and this becomes a way of life for Wayne State’s SLIS grads!
Are there trends or issues that you are seeing in public libraries that you think need more attention? If so, what are they?
I think libraries need to be constantly on the look-out for ways to make library service as simple and convenient as possible. No one should have to jump through hoops for anything that they are needing at the library – they should always feel surprised and delighted by every single library experience. I also feel that Early Childhood Literacy is crucial and everything that libraries can do to assist parents and caregivers in helping with that is paramount.
You built strong connections between the library and the surrounding communities during your time at SSLDL. What recommendations do you have for those library managers seeking to improve community relations?
Once again “Little things are big things – attention to details matters!” Every single person we serve is important and valued. I would sometimes sit near our fireplace at the library and just observe how our customer service representatives and librarians interacted with our customers. I can tell you in all honesty, I don’t know where you could possibly go and receive such caring, friendly service as at SSLDL. Many libraries eventually need to ask their taxpayers for a millage. You cannot expect voters to approve a tax request if they don’t believe the institution is providing value. Every day is a new day, each person you serve deserves the best you can give. If you make a mistake, own it and make it right. You do that and you can’t go wrong.
Looking back on your career, what have been some of your fondest moments?
SO many great moments! Seeing children excited to come to the library and not wanting to leave! Laughing with my co-workers. Helping a customer and realizing you just made their day…their week…; being open during a winter storm because of the library generator and providing warmth when every other place around is closed; seeing a word of thanks expressed to a volunteer who is tending the gardens, the list goes on and on. If you want to make a difference in people’s lives, there’s no better place to do it than the library.
Daren Hubbard is Chief Information Officer and Associate Vice President for Computing and Information Technology at Wayne State University. He has over 20 years of experience in higher education leadership. He is a certified project manager and has an MBA and MLIS (’00) from Wayne STate University.
As CIO of Wayne State University, you are responsible for the university’s computing and networking facilities, data center operations, enterprise software applications, learning management environments, high-performance research computing, voice services, information security, and information technology support services. How do you stay up-to-date on current trends in those areas? Are there online resources, periodicals, or other media outlets that you would recommend on those topics?
I tend to rely on multiple websites and information sources to keep up like cio.com, informationweek.com and campus technology. We also read the chronicle of higher education as well to stay aligned with the academe. I encourage my team to do the same to ensure that we have a variety of perspectives at the table. I also look to several outlets that cover consumer technology like engadget.com and theverge.net to track larger tech trends. And finally I take note of how my children are using technology to anticipate emerging trends.
You also manage an extensive staff. Can you share a little bit about how you and your team communicate goals and priorities to ensure that the many projects you work on maintain forward progress?
Much of what we do centers around communicating early and often. Weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly meeting with multiple levels of management and staff is a must. And all of that is supplemented by communications from my office via email, portal or through the website. And finally, I perform skip-level meetings to engage directly with all staff to hear from all corners of the division.
You earned your MLIS from Wayne State in 2000. How has your MLIS contributed to your work as CIO?
The most important contribution would be the skill to acquire new knowledge and be able to quickly integrate it and leverage it for alternative purposes. This is something that librarians have been doing for years that is critical to technology work. For example, the reference librarian is very similar to an application developer- listening intently to requirements and needs and exposing and connecting patrons to information solutions in real-time.
Can you share a bit of insight into your overall leadership style, specifically related to leading teams and people? What has helped you define and determine your leadership style?
My leadership style is grounded in respecting the capabilities of my team and giving them what they need to be successful. At every level of management that l have served, I make it my business to learn what the styles and capabilities of my team are and work with them to fully leverage them. Most people need similar things: a clearly articulated vision that guides the overall work, transparency with regard to evaluation and expectation and support if and when they get in over their heads. And finally, I empower folks to create their own solutions to problems- presenting me with options to select from- rather than dumping them on me to solve- I am always amazed what people are able to do when you believe in them.
Do you have any recommendations for LIS professionals who might be in the early or middle stages of their career and are seeking to improve their leadership skills?
The best advice I have ever received was to seek out opportunities for growth even if you were not going to be compensated for it right then. That willingness to invest in yourself and to lead because leadership is needed is a great opportunity to show initiative and to demonstrate your abilities. Doing so usually puts you on the radar early and helps to solidify your image as someones who goes above and beyond with out being told to.
Students, faculty, and patrons alike have high expectations that organizations will adapt to technology trends very quickly. Given the rapid change that is always occurring in the tech world, how do you decide which projects to take on and adapt to serve students, faculty and staff at Wayne State?
We do a lot more listening than talking. Through surveys and direct feedback we have an idea where our challenging areas are and likewise where the greatest opportunities for advancing the state of the art may be. Decisions on projects frequently come down to alignment to the University’s strategies, cost and the availability of staff resources. When things come together and we are able to exceed expectations and do something that is cool and exciting at the same time- when that happens Wayne State is the big winner.
Are there are any trends in the fields of computing and information technology that are not getting the attention they should be? Especially related to C&IT in a university setting, what trends do you think deserve notice?
A trend that is gaining traction is data science and the use of data to provide better more proactive support. Also, more students have shared the desire to have more interactive work spaces – which is something my employees are asking for as well. Areas with large screens that individuals can easily access are becoming what everyone wants to work with.
Do you have any advice for students considering information management and similar courses of study?
Be open and flexible, what you study today may not be what you work on tomorrow.
Alicia Biggers-Gaddies (MLIS ’96) is Knowledge Center Manager at Ford Motor Company International Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. She has over 20 years of experience in the fields of knowledge management and competitive intelligence. Alicia also teaches Competitive Intelligence courses for SLIS.
Learn more about her work related to data analytics in her January interview with the Special Libraries Association.
What is a typical day like for you as Knowledge Center Manager?
A typical day includes meetings with data suppliers, business skill teams and providing orientations to new or rotating employees. The day includes responding to research requests, answering quick reference and of course, the emails!
Depending on the day, I can be pulled into project work and project management. During the 4Q and 1Q the days are focused on budgets, negotiations for services supporting our core team as well as the corporation.
How many people work on your team at the Knowledge Center? Do you have a communication style that seems to work better than others for your group? For instance, do you find that weekly meetings, or one-on-ones, or email are better for coordinating goals and communicating with one another?
There is one researcher along with subject experts from our key research suppliers and myself. We use a blend of styles to communicate depending on the situation or task at hand. We have touch point meetings for the macro view of how the world is working while emails help track research with quick exchanges in person.
As Knowledge Center Manager you have to work with many different units at Ford and are involved in a lot of different projects. How do you communicate to different units about the value of your work and make them aware of the services you offer?
Over the years, we have built a reputation of response and follow-up with many of our “users” rotating through different teams, they become our “advocates” of branding the role of the Knowledge Center to Ford. Of course, we promote and market through senior management briefings, 1:1, small group and team orientations. We host a biannual “Info Expo” which provides corporate exposure to the internal information services and the suppliers they work with to provide research intelligence to the corporation.
Communicating the value of the Knowledge Center is daily from how we brand our research summaries to infographics to our SharePoint site.
You have taken on many large scale projects at Ford that have had international, company-wide impact. For instance, you created and implemented a global contract management process and you completed a global information audit which produced ~$2M in savings by removing duplicate purchases. What recommendations do you have for implementing these sorts of large scale projects – especially related to communicating process and goals to end users?
Listen to the users (your analyst and business/skill teams) and senior management then look for trends and gaps. From there, find a common ground or language to socialize the issue, challenge or project. Seek an executive champion with realistic goals to accomplish and move the corporation forward. It is a team effort, not individual and you let go when momentum has formed allowing the company system to lead. The most recent example is our effort to bring forth analytics as a skill team and competency to Ford which was successful with the creation of our Global Data Insights & Analytics team.
For those LIS professionals who are just starting out in their careers, what recommendations do you have for them in terms of cultivating their leadership style and capabilities? What can they do early on in their careers to prepare themselves for jobs like Knowledge Center Manager?
Know thy self. Easier said than done. Look to understand what motivates you and what bugs you. Be honest. Recognize others don’t work the same and that is okay as long as the work, task, and projects are completed with the value of the service preserved and enhanced. Managing is moving people forward, not moving yourself forward. Your progression is measured by how well you honor, reward and promote others.
To enhance your career for management roles, take on responsibilities that move the value you bring to your organization. Take on the role of managing a site or compliance for the group. Volunteer for projects, offer to assist with budgeting, write value statements of services and listen to the company, response to the opportunities – see a need, fill a need. Do not replicate or duplicate rather compliment and supplement the efforts around you.
Are there trends that you’re seeing in knowledge management that LIS professionals should be keeping tabs on?
Like “knowledge management”, know how your role is impacted, enhance or changed with the inclusion of “analytics” or “data analytics.” Know how you can assist with this development, the same as the information professional handles competitive intelligence, research, IT, and content management. As our society develops, our core skills as information professionals are flexible to adapt to those developments as guides to those around us – listen, simplify and respond; do not simply “react” to these developments.
How did your Wayne State SLIS education prepare you for your current role?
Most fundamental learning I took from my WSU SLIS experience were the key skills unique to information professionals – research interview (critical, use it daily), cataloging (how information is organized to retrieve), abstracting (this is critical, I use it daily for executive summaries) and indexing (how to find anything).
Going back to participate in advisory groups, student groups and other WSU SLIS activities helped to polish my management / leadership skills.
Lastly, for students interested in Knowledge Management or for those current LIS professionals considering a move to Knowledge Management, do you have any advice for how they can best prepare for a career in KM?
The skills you acquire through the MLIS program fit the demands of knowledge management. You are acutely positioned to help organizations with human input to KM as there is more to it than a system (IT). You understand how humans store and retrieve information. How they might tag it (and you index it) and how the company’s vocabulary impacts any system. Those are skills that are not taught in just any grad program. Know it, use it and leverage your skills to solve problems and challenges. You will see the main issue with KM is the people (input / output) not the software.
Dr. Timothy Bowman, SLIS assistant professor, will be contributing a series of blog posts on the topic of Managing Digital Identity. Dr. Bowman draws on his research related to the presentation of self in online environments to help students and alumni understand the impact of digital identity on professional life.
Your Identity, Defined.
In today’s world, our identity may be spread across multiple avenues of interaction and can be absorbed by different audience at various times. We may know the audience or we may not. What we choose to reveal in one context may be hidden in another and this also may change across time. With the advent of the internet and the subsequent integration of the web and mobile technology into our daily lives, some scholars have suggested that we have both an offline identity and an online (or digital) identity (Camp, 2004). We may be defined simply by distinguishing attributes, such as those used to define our unique presence in a computer application or legal record, but is this digital identity a way in which we would define ourselves?
How do you define one’s identity? It’s a question that has been discussed across multiple disciplines, including information science, sociology, psychology, law, business, and health, and defined in a variety of ways. Identity, as defined by the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “sameness in all that constitutes the objective reality of a thing; the distinguishing character or personality of an individual” (Merriam-Webster, n.d.) What does it mean to identify the “objective reality of a thing?” How can we identify the “distinguishing character or personality of an individual?” How do context and time fit into the equation? These questions have driven scholars to search for answers across various contexts, which has undoubtedly led to more questions than answers.
Online you + Offline you = ?
When you create a new account on a social media platform such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, what information do you enter? Do you identify the unique characteristics of your personality and/or self? Is the profile a way others can understand the objective reality of who you are and what you are? What about offline: Do you introduce yourself to a potential employer and describe your distinguishing characteristics or personality objectively? Some of these distinguishing characteristics may be inferred through a photo, media, or legal document that your audience may have access, while others may not.
I would predict that, either offline or online, you present yourself in ways that are appropriate for the context and the time of interaction. This is where presenting one’s self and identity differ. What is the difference between identity and the way you present yourself? We may consider identity to consist of managing those legal and factual attributes of our lives (such as our birth date, height, weight, eye color, etc.), whereas presenting our self to others can be thought of as managing the information we reveal about our self to audiences in varying contexts at different times.
In my own research on identity and self-presentation, I primarily utilize theories and frameworks from sociology and social psychology to investigate the ways in which social media participants represent themselves in these online contexts. Erving Goffman is a prominent sociologist who spent his academic life studying self-presentation. His book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959) was one of the first studies to examine aspects of self-presentation from a sociological perspective. Goffman developed a framework to describe this activity in terms of dramaturgical concepts (i.e. actors, audience, stage, props, etc.). One of his primary ideas was that one must maintain their role during a presentation to an audience, else the actor will be embarrassed when the audience no longer believes them. His work has been used across multiple disciplines to describe how actors represent themselves to audience in different contexts.
Why Digital Identity Matters
Whether we are discussing identity or self-presentation, what does it mean for you? As you know, the way you represent yourself to others can have an impact on what you can accomplish personally, socially, and legally. If you represent yourself as speaking French and as a programmer in a resume to an employer, that employer will understandably expect those skills to materialize once you are hired. If you apply for a passport to visit another country, those who process your application will expect that the information you provide be accurate and legally factual. Taking it one step further, if you are working the reference desk in a public library and you are performing a reference interview with a patron, how you present yourself will have an impact on the success of your ability to understand and successfully fulfill the patron’s request. If the patron believes you are knowledgeable, trustworthy, and open to the patron’s questions, you will have a better chance of finding the proper resource they require. However, if the patron sees you as standoffish, uninterested, and snobbish toward their request, the patron will most likely not receive the resource they require.
How you act and what information you choose to share about yourself in a specific context will typically be how your audience identifies you. This can be extended further when we consider the online context and the information you provide about yourself; what you place online is permanent, can be copied, taken out of context, and is available to an invisible audience (boyd & Ellison, 2007). This may present us with potential problems, as future employers, organizations, friends, and legal entities may find something you shared (or a friend shared about you) years ago and use that to identify you and judge you in some way.
boyd, d., & Ellison, N. (2007). Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship. JCMC, 13 (1). Retrieved from http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html
Camp, J. L. (2004). Digital identity. IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, 23(3), 34–41. https://doi.org/10.1109/MTAS.2004.1337889
Goffrnan, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. Retrieved from http://www.worldcat.org/title/presentation-of-self-in-everyday-life/oclc/256298
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Identity. Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved June 22, 2017 from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/identity
People Walking Photo by mauro mora on Unsplash
Computer User at Coffee Shop Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash