Sara Bond is a graduate student working on her Master’s in Library and Information Science at the Univerity of California, Los Angeles.
Sara is one of two winners of the 2017 McKinley Scholarship.
The following is her essay submission.
More and more the role I see myself taking is a hybrid of librarian, archivist, information specialist, data scientist, instructor, provider, compassionate ear. As an MLIS graduate student, I am often asked, “What’s your track?” and the only answer I can really come up with is: Information. I am less interested in how archives theory differs from informatics than I am in seeing the commonalities. This past year in my MLIS program I took courses in Data Management, and heard some of the same sentiments echoed in a course I took in Community-Based Archives. There is something looming just at the horizon, just outside of vision, that is coming to the LIS profession that we can already sense, and already know is completely going to alter our daily work. Oftentimes when I tell people I am getting a master’s degree in Library and Information Science, they look at me like I’m already a fossil. But what these people don’t realize is that information professionals are what stands between them and an information technology landscape, in which they invest more and more of their social capital, dominated by corporate interests. We could go so far as to utter, like the famous line in the Terminator movies, “Come with me if you want to live.” What I expect to derive from attending the ASIS&T 2017 Annual Meeting is my footing in the LIS field. I want a better understanding of this intersection that I believe we are at.
I am currently a part-time academic employee at a prominent lab for robotic exploration of the solar system in Southern California, where just today I saw a presentation given by a sociologist of science and technology at Princeton University. She spoke about diversity in spacecraft teams, and how important it is for teams to avoid the groupthink that can befall them, as it did the Challenger team, if they are not diversified. The theme of ASIS&T 2017 intersects with this notion, and in addition to recognizing that people from different backgrounds, cultures and disciplines connect, discover, use and engage with technology in diverse ways, it is important to acknowledge that this diversity has substantial, measurable benefits. I work with incredibly bright and gifted engineers and scientists who rely on information technology to keep them abreast of the latest research in their fields. One of my mentors recently said that there is a difference among information, knowledge, and data. Simple access to information is not the highest plateau that I believe we can achieve as information professionals. If that were the case, Google is “it.” However, Google shows biased results, and their search engine favors their own products and services. Recently when a group of young people were asked to draw a picture of the internet, they drew Google. I find this very problematic, as information technology needs to be robust and diverse, not drawn from corporate lines. I once heard it said that the way astrologers of old “read” the stars is perhaps what we need to make sense of our information overload mess. Information professionals can become these nascent astrologers that can form the stories, knowledge and data out of the ether. Attending ASIS&T 2017 and meeting people with the experience and knowledge and vision that I do not yet have would enrich my understanding.
I have a suspicion that I speak for more than just myself when I say that information professionals become attracted to the profession because their curiosity inherently wins. We are the quintessential cat with nine lives. LACASIS&T and ASIS&T would benefit if I receive this scholarship as I will take this curiosity and desire to further our understanding of what it means to be an information professional in this rapidly evolving present, take it into my new career pathways, and also use what I have learned from attending ASIS&T 2017 to collaborate and expand the body of knowledge in our field, and beyond.
The McKinley Memorial Scholarship offers travel funds for students to attend the ASIS&T Annual Meeting.