Conference Participation Reports by SOIS Students Who Received IOrg Travel Support


For 2011 reports, click here

Ben Schnapp
Milwaukee, WI
MLIS student - IO concentration

Over spring break, I attended the third annual ASIS&T (The American Society for Information Science & Technology) RDAP (Research Data Access and Preservation) Summit in New Orleans.  I was overwhelmed by the brilliance of not only the presenters, but the attendees, as well.  I tried to absorb as much as I could, taking lots of notes so I would have a list of what to investigate more of in the future. 

The most interesting aspect of the conference for me was the idea of metadata systems for data, which is something I had not been exposed to before.  I’ve heard several times that metadata is data about data, but a lot of this conference focused on metadata for actual data sets.  Citing data sets is important for many reasons:

Some of this can be accomplished through new data repository and data systems that are being developed, like PURR through Purdue or iRODS which was developed by the Data Intensive Cyber Environments (DICE) research group.  These repository systems allow for exciting new roles for the librarian and information professionals in the research communities.  Information professionals work with the scientific and research communities helping to develop data management and curation plans and acting as consultants to researchers throughout the process.

One panel focused on sustainability.  The point was made that even though many of the conference participants (and many of us at UW-Milwaukee) are gearing their careers to academics or to public service, that even these fields need to be treated like you’re running or working for a business.  Improving automation and transferring curation tasks for digital libraries to submitters is needed to make many in-house or institutionally developed management systems practical from a budgetary standpoint.

Peter Fox from RPI was a highlight for me on the only panel session of Friday, which was on training data management practitioners.  Something he said that really stuck with me was that “the idea of a simple linear flow of data, information, and knowledge is a myth. It's a far more interactive ecosystem.”  The panel also discussed the importance of coupling actual research with education and the importance of working with live data.  Technological competency is important, but teaching skills methodology is more important than learning specific systems. 

I live tweeted the event for the ASIS&T Digital Library special interest group.  Check out #rdap12 to see mine and others updates and links related to the Summit. 

For anyone interested, most of the slides for the presentations can be found at

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Jihee Beak
PhD student

I attended the ALISE conference with a poster in the “Works in Progress” section. My poster’s title is “LCSH vs. Tags from LibraryThing in fiction genres.” The conference was in Dallas, TX during January 17-20. I participated in the conference with IOrg student conference support.

It was my first time presenting a poster at ALISE. The experience from ALISE is very helpful for both academic and professional purposes. I met many scholars and doctoral students from other universities. Not only did people at the conference give me valuable feedback about my research, but also I could expand my research interest by looking at others’ posters. As far as I remembered, about 100 posters were presented by subjects. Therefore, posters around my poster shared similar interest. I could talk with a poster presenter who was studying tagging in health information. Although we studies different topics, I could learn various research methods or data collection techniques used in tagging studies.

In addition, it was a great opportunity to understand job markets in the LIS field. Due to the nature of ALISE conference, I could see doctoral candidates’ resumes and job announcements. Although I have more time to look for jobs, this experience helps me understand what kinds of qualifications I need to build up for the rest of my doctoral program. Again, I appreciate IOrg that financially supports me to have this great chance.

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Ann Graf
PhD student

I was privileged to attend and to present with Richard Smiraglia at the Canadian Association for Information Science's 40th annual conference this past spring in Waterloo, Ontario, which is part of the much larger Congress of the Humanities. The theme for this year's CAIS conference was Information in a Local and Global Context.

This was my first academic conference and I now see how different they are from the professional conferences I had attended in the past. I enjoyed the succinctness of the presentations and the focus on research. As a new doctoral student it was very interesting for me to learn what type of research is going on in the field and how I might benefit from this exposure to the work of others.

The entire experience was encouraging and energizing and I met a number of people whose work I had read previously, such as D. Grant Campbell. He presented "Global Standards and Social Contracts: The Political Economy of Bibliographic Description" in which he questioned how the discourses surrounding different information communities affect how these communities can and do talk to each other. He referred to Michel Foucault and the concept of discourse formation and related all to collaboration on a whole new level with the advent of RDA.

I also met Olha Buchel, whose work we had used as a learning example in Margaret Kipp's mashups class during my last semester in the MLIS program. I was able to discuss her recently defended dissertation that involved georeferencing, something I am increasingly interested in as I head further into my own IO studies.

Angela Pollak's research on experiential information acquisition versus information gained through more traditional or formal education was based on her interviews with Ontario bushmen, or loggers, and she reported on the differences in how they learned what they know in comparison with foresters who work in the same area. She then highlighted some of the ways that experiential knowledge is gained, viewed by outsiders, and sometimes superior to traditional education.

Matthew Woolhouse used data from the Nokia corporation on 1.8 million music downloads from 13 countries to illuminate some interesting discoveries. The data did not include individuals' names or genders, but did reveal country location, time of day of each download, and into which predetermined broad music genre an item fell. The data reveal that the Finns download nearly twice as much music from Nokia as any other country showing up in the study (the US was not included), downloaders in the UK love hard rock, and Italians tend to download opera. Mr. Woolhouse, to humorous effect, cited psychological research that informs connections between personality traits and a propensity towards certain types of music.

Other presentations looked at information behavior, such as that displayed in the acknowledgement sections of books, or the attributes of "deep" information seekers and how their high needs for cognition affect how they search, what they find and how they utilize their results.

The very last slot of the conference was given to Richard Smiraglia and me for our paper entitled "Cultural Curation as Classification: The Evolution of the Bibliography and Taxonomy for The Encyclopedia of Milwaukee." I am thankful for the opportunity I had to give this presentation to the SOIS IOrg in advance of the conference. The actual presentation went well and was positively received.

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