Category: SLIS News

Faculty Spotlight – November 2020

Dr. Laurie Bonnici co-presented at the annual Document Academy DOCAM conference on August 6th, 2020. “If an antelope can be a document, then…can monsters be anecdata?” compares the fascination with folkloric traditions or myths, such as mermaids or the Kraken, to the notion of anecdata – an information phenomenon described as a bridge connecting people with codified or discoverable information. “Anecdata is little-known knowledge imparted by common people passed through proximal ties.” This work was published in October 2020, titled “Embracing Monsters as Documents.” Well done, Dr. Bonnici!

Dr. James Elmborg spoke on a panel at the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) conference on November 17. Titled “Increasing Equity in Audiovisual Archiving through Fellowship Programs,” the panel addressed concerns within the field of audiovisual archiving, such as diversity, equity, and inclusion. Several programs are addressing the concerns presented, including WGBH’s Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellowship (PBPF), The AMIA Diversity and Inclusion Fellowship Program (ADIFP), and BAVC’s Community-based Preservation Education and Training Program (CPET). This panel had representatives from each group present to discuss the achievements, challenges, and strategies from their respective programs. Hats off to Dr. Elmborg!

Dr. Miriam Sweeney virtually attended the Association of Internet Researchers conference, held on October 27th -31st. Featured as a co-speaker for a roundtable event, Dr. Sweeney spoke on “the relationship between humans, machines, and culture as a way to problematize popular notions of ‘algorithmic culture’ that tend to reify code as a rational tool and de-emphasize the roles of humanism, ideology, and power in the process.” Referring to this as “Facing Our Computers” Dr. Sweeney’s creative play on words is meant as “a playful and multi-layered provocation for exploring the design, use, and meaning of digital assistant technologies, artificial intelligence, and related smart technologies that are part of our ubiquitous technology ecosystem.” Well done, Dr. Sweeney!


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.”