I am co-chairing the planning committee for the 3rd Annual Graduate Student Symposium to be held in November, and this year we decided to reach out beyond our local Library & Information Science (LIS) program for presenters. The symposium in the past has consisted of only current students in our local SIRLS program. A few months back, the planning committee thought hey, why not invite graduate students from other departments, and LIS students from other schools entirely? So we did. Collaboration and working with one another is such an important element in the professional world today so this seemed appropriate. We anticipated maybe getting a couple students from outside departments to submit their abstracts but thought there was little chance of getting a response from other schools. At least, if nothing else, we thought this would make other programs aware of what we are doing, and maybe set a foundation for future symposiums becoming national events.
Our deadline for receiving submissions is tomorrow. We have yet to receive one from another graduate department, unfortunately. We were hoping some students in law, journalism, english, or sociology would participate; library issues are so cross-disciplinary and we though someone outside LIS might be interested in discussing information policy & law, freedom of information, preservation of the written word, or the digital divide. While the non-response from around campus was a bit of a disappointment, we have actually received two submissions from students outside of our school, from LIS students in Maryland! One presentation and one poster session submission. If accepted, this means several students will be flying out to the desert from the east coast to share their research with us Tucsonans. We are thrilled at the possibility.
Why am I sharing all this? I think it illustrates that there are opportunities for graduate students across the country to connect and learn from one another, and it’s a fantastic feeling to know you are helping facilitate this connection. I wish there were more opportunities like this. While travel money can be an issue for students, there are plenty of scholarships and travel grants available out there; graduate student councils often offer these to make such opportunities possible. I think there should be better communication between ALA Student Chapters so that we can create more opportunities to come together and learn from one another. If you are in a graduate LIS program and planning a professional development event that other students might want to be involved in, communicate with your peer institutions to open the door to that possibility! Maybe all us students could come together to plan a national event where just students are presenting their research? ALA’s New Members Round Table (NMRT) might be interested in helping coordinate this. It can be difficult for students to get experience presenting in a professional setting prior to graduation, and what a great thing to make these opportunities available. It’s also a great way to allow students to network, collaborate and learn from one another.
P.S. There is still a day to submit your abstract to present at the symposium, please submit online here!