Tuscaloosa Native, Alex Smith, Steps into SLIS Leadership Roles.
Born and raised in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Alexandra “Alex” Smith has been fascinated with information management and data synthesis since high school. Because of the world’s large population, Alex realized that she could translate knowledge into supported statistical frameworks and then translate those findings into common language for dissemination. This realization led Alex to pursue an LIS degree and career. Alex states, “As the population and use of technology grows, verifiable information is harder to communicate and preserve so LIS professionals must step up to the plate to combat the current trends and support information literacy.”
Alex began her research and information/data management experience through her work in a clinical psychology lab, performing Fluid Dynamics research funded by the NSF and working as a research technician at a palliative care clinic. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in the Blount Scholars Program. Alex is currently pursuing an MLIS with a concentration in Archival Studies. In addition to managing the C&IS Commons on campus, Alex is also the project archivist for the Betsy Plank Collection housed in the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at UA. This summer, she was chosen to work as a Junior Fellow at the Library of Congress in the Manuscript Division where she was responsible for processing the E.O. Wilson papers.
Alex says that her favorite aspect so far in her SLIS experience is the community that SLIS inspires and impacts. “Information sustainability, accountability and dissemination are applicable to every person and profession,” Alex notes. “It can be, and should be, used as a tool for social justice and public good so SLIS has a tendency to collect really inspiring faculty and students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. It’s really a special place to learn and grow as a person.”
When asked about the current and future role of libraries in communities, Alex recognizes that libraries are growing more important as physical gathering places, especially for marginalized and threatened populations to exist safely while accessing much needed resources. Furthermore, Alex believes that libraries function as resource gathering places to collocate critical services and resources that might be difficult to access otherwise. “The current social climate is full of gaps- social, financial, access- and libraries must work to be places that exist outside of these constraints and provide for all.”
Alex challenges students to talk to each other along the way, listen to each other and be an active participant in life around you. “If you do this, you will find passions and purposes you did not see before and LIS will take on a deeper and more vibrant meaning, she advises. “UA SLIS is a family, as cheesy as that sounds. The faculty and staff include experts in a wide range of research interests and backgrounds to provide a rich LIS education. Beyond the education, UA SLIS is composed of great people who want students to succeed so they have fostered a culture of open communication and support. All around, SLIS is a great place to pursue an MLIS that goes beyond the piece of paper or resume line.”
In addition to her college-wide service roles, Alex also gives of her time and energy to make a positive impact in the field of LIS on a local level. She currently serves as President of ALA Student Chapter and President of SAA Student Chapter at UA. “Both groups strive to support SLIS and UA through service to students and the surrounding community,” Alex states. “I am lucky enough to help both incredible groups of people band together to promote an inclusive SLIS environment and promote social justice.”