Category: SLIS News

Student Spotlight – MFA and MLIS Thesis Defenses

SLIS is proud to celebrate two students who recently completed public defenses of their thesis projects.

Eric Coleman, MFA Book Arts student, defended his thesis on October 2. Titled “Year, Make & Model,” Eric’s project parallels his journey in printmaking, saying, “it’s the culmination of my work with vehicle restoration. It highlights the cars & relationships throughout a ten-year period of my life. This book is not only a glimpse into the inner workings of my psyche, but it’s a world that most may not consider.” Eric’s thesis committee was chaired by Prof. Anna Embree. Coleman will be graduate in December 2020. Join us in wishing congratulations to Eric for a successful thesis defense!

On October 19, Juliana Mestre successfully defended her MLIS thesis entitled, “A Derridean Reclamation of Hospitality in Library and Information Science.” A work of information theory, this thesis uses philosophical deconstruction to argue that learning to embrace hospitality’s irreducible paradoxes provides a model for how library practitioners can, through discourse, continue to serve patrons authentically despite other seemingly unresolvable conflicts in professional values. Juliana’s thesis committee was chaired by Dr. John Burgess. Mestre will graduate with her MLIS in December 2020 and intends to pursue a PhD in LIS. Congratulations to Juliana on this great accomplishment!

Alabama SLIS at ASIS&T 2020

The 83rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) is being held online from October 22 to November 1, 2020. The conference theme is “Information for a Sustainable World: Addressing Society’s Grand Challenges.”

Dr. Bharat Mehra serves as conference co-chair alongside Dr. Kendra Albright (Kent State). He will be co-presenting on Sunday, October 25 from 4:00-5:30 PM on “EDI and Leadership in Information Science.” On Thursday, October 29 from 9:00-9:15 AM, Dr. Mehra is presenting a paper titled “Women’s Concerns in Alabama’s Public Libraries: An Exploratory Website Content Analysis of Illustrative Information Support Services.” That same afternoon, from 4:00-5:30 PM, Dr. Mehra will speak in the Closing Plenary for the day, “Information for a Sustainable World: A Call to Action.” Dr. Mehra also has a virtual poster, “U.S. State Libraries as Strong Institutions: Supporting Justice for LGBTQ+ Patrons?” that will be open to view through the duration of the conference.

Dr. Steven MacCall will have a virtual poster with UA PhD student Huapu Liu that will be available to view during the conference, titled “Data-Driven Semantic Indexing of Digital Assets Documenting American Football Game Action.”

Alabama SLIS at ALISE 2020

The Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) 2020 Annual Conference moved from Pittsburgh to online due to COVID-19 concerns. The move to virtual shifted the conference dates to October 12-23. SLIS faculty are well-represented in the conference program:

Dr. John Burgess (Assistant Professor) will be speaking in a special interest group on Wednesday, October 21 from 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM on “Where Do We Stand? Working Toward an ALISE Position Statement on Learning Analytics in Higher Education (Information Ethics SIG).” Later in the afternoon, Dr. Burgess will be presenting a juried paper from 2:50 – 4:10 PM, titled “Using Investigative Video Games to Teach Reference Transaction Skills in Interconnected Classrooms,” a project he completed with MLIS graduate Anna Grace Wallace.

Director Jim Elmborg (Professor) will be presenting with Dr. Bharat Mehra and Dr. Jeff Weddle (Associate Professor) on Wednesday, October 21 from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM on a juried panel on “Poetry and the Voice of LIS Educators: Transforming the Fabric of Lives and More.” Director Elmborg also serves as co-chair of the 2020-2021 ALISE Council of Deans, Directors and Program Chairs.
Dr. Hengyi Fu (Assistant Professor) served as a ALISE 2020 proposal reviewer.

Dr. Bharat Mehra (Professor & EBSCO Endowed Chair in Social Justice) will be speaking in a special interest group on Monday, October 19 from 3:40 – 5:40 PM on “Innovative Teaching Strategies and Conventional Approaches for Enhanced Learning in a Global Information Environment.” On Tuesday, October 20, Dr. Mehra will be part of a juried panel, “Connecting Rural Public Libraries to LIS Education and Research: The Case of Health Services, Programs, and Partnerships” from 12:30 – 2:00 PM. Later in the afternoon, Dr. Mehra will be speaking in a special interest group from 2:50 – 4:50 PM on “Transforming LIS Education Through Disability Inclusion (Disabilities in LIS SIG).” Dr. Mehra also serves as a co-chair for the ALISE Academy, a co-chair for the Community Conn@ct Mini-Grants selection committee and will serve as a virtual host for the conference.

Dr. Mehra and doctoral student Baheya Jaber have a digital poster presentation along with Dr. Carol Perryman that will be available through the duration of the conference, titled “Womens’ Lives: Illustrative Information Support Services for Meeting Womens’ Health Information Needs in Rural Public Libraries in Texas and Alabama.”

Dr. Miriam Sweeney (Associate Professor) will be part of a juried panel on Wednesday, October 21 from 5:00 – 6:30 PM on “Critical Data Approaches to the Interconnected Library.”

Faculty Spotlight – September 2020

SLIS Director Dr. James Elmborg was elected co-chair of the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) Council of Deans, Directors, and Program Chairs for 2020-2021. ALISE is a non-profit organization that serves as the intellectual home of faculty, staff, and students in library and information science, and associated disciplines. It promotes innovation and excellence internationally through leadership, collaboration, advocacy, and dissemination of scholarship.


Dr. Jamie Naidoo presented “Diversifying Library Services via Inclusive Spaces, Programs, and Collections” as part of the Jefferson County Public Library Association’s (JCPLA) Staff Appreciation Week at the Birmingham Public Library in September 2020.


Dr. Steven Yates was a featured speaker for the Tennessee Association of School Librarians Virtual Conference on September 26. He presented “Titans for Advocacy: Building Your Publicity Plan for Success.”

Faculty Spotlight – Summer Recap

Faculty and students at UA SLIS persevered beyond unexpected challenges in summer 2020 and continued to produce research and creative activity in a variety of venues.

On June 6, Prof. Sarah Bryant released a book project called Read This Out Loud in response to the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. This book is a downloadable template that is available through her website alongside detailed binding video tutorials. The purpose of the project is to enable anyone to participate in the production and dissemination of this book, a list of names of almost 2,000 Black people killed by police between the years 2013 and 2019. This book was distributed for free in the local community and across the United States. The book template has been downloaded nearly 1,000 times. The San Francisco Center for the Book staged a book binding event for it on September 1 and German artists Birgit Nielsen and Ann Carolin Renninger adapted Prof. Bryant’s work to include victims of racism and right-wing violence in Germany, where they staged a binding event on September 9 and 10.

Dr. Steven MacCall presented in July at the LD4 Conference on Linked Data in Libraries. The conference had originally been scheduled for May 2020 at College Station, Texas; however, the ever-present threat of COVID-19 prevented maintaining the original schedule and plan of events. Delivered virtually, Dr. MacCall presented in the “digital collections” track of the conference with his presentation titled “Data-Driven Semantic DAM Indexing Incorporating Statistical Play-by-play Game Logs: A Linked Data Application using Wikibase from the 2017 Football Season of the Alabama Crimson Tide.” The objective of this project was “to demonstrate how statistical play-by-play datasets generated by loggers during college football games could be incorporated into a semantic indexing process for photos and video clips captured during those games.” The YouTube recording of his presentation can be found here.

Dr. Bharat Mehra had several co-authored articles published in various academic journals. “Framing a Discussion on Paradigm Shift(s) in the Field of Information” was published in the Journal of the Association of Information Science and Technology and can be accessed here. Dr. Mehra also co-authored “An ‘Owning Up’ of White-IST Trends in LIS to Further Real Transformations,” published in The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy and “Scenarios of Technology Use to Promote Community Engagement: Overcoming Marginalization and Bridging Digital Divides in the Southern and Central Appalachian Rural Libraries” in a special issue of Information Processing & Management. The link to the later article can be found here.

Dr. Miriam Sweeney, along with collaborators Dr. Todd Freeborn (UA’s College of Engineering) and Dr. Claire Major (UA’s College of Education), received a $299,997 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their project “Using Problem-Based Learning to Increase the Ethical Reasoning Skills of Electrical and Computer Engineering Students.” Read more about the project on Dr. Sweeney’s site here.

Congratulations SLIS faculty!