Newsletter of the Association of Library and Information Science Students (ALISS)





November 2003

Vol VII Issue V

Silverfish Left Navigation Bar

Knowledge Mismanagement, FRBR and Margaritas – Oh My!
A Report on the 2003 ASIS&T Annual Meeting

By Kristen Shuyler
As recently as a month ago, if I had heard what sounded like "furber" in a conversation, I would have been thoroughly confused – or worried, depending on the context. However, as a recent "graduate" of LIS 500, I relished the chance to discuss FRBR, XML, Dublin Core, blogs, academic libraries, and other LIS topics with new friends at the ASIS&T 2003 Annual Conference in Long Beach this October. Indeed, the most valuable aspect of the conference to me was the opportunity to meet and talk with new people. Our own award-winning student chapter, ASIS&T-UW, made my trip possible through its student scholarship. I am so grateful that I was able to participate in the ASIS&T community, hear its top thinkers, and share in its after-hours beers.

Spending time with recent graduates of the iSchool, other newly-minted MLIS folks, and current students from UW and around the world was the core of the social experience. This is where the beers (and margaritas!) came into play. It was interesting to hear the lowdown from other people at various stages in their educations and careers.

I also appreciated the chance to meet a wider range of people by staffing the iSchool's information table. Prospective students, ASIS&T board members, iSchool faculty and students who I hadn't met yet, and even the editor of JASIST (the society's journal) stopped by. Sitting at the table also gave me a brief respite from the tightly packed schedule.

Although I didn't get to meet them, simply seeing the luminaries of our field in real life was a highlight for me. After reading articles by Marcia Bates, Birger Hjørland, Michael Buckland, and Nick Belkin in the first weeks of the term, it was a thrill to see them in person! The theme of the conference, "Humanizing Information Technology: From Ideas to Bits and Back" was closer to "Humanizing the field of library and information science" for me. I appreciated seeing the faces and personalities behind the names.

Most of the social action took place during the coffee breaks and evening receptions, but the sessions also offered glimpses of the social side of academic discourse. I attended presentations about cooperative virtual reference services, the information behavior of new immigrants and sex workers, personal information management, emotion and design, and digital asset management systems. I especially appreciated the discussions that followed the talks. The session that tied most closely with my first-year coursework was the "Revival of the Concept of Documents in the Theoretical Foundation of Information Science" with Michael Buckland, Birger Hjørland, and Jack Andersen. Like usual, I thought that the richest part of this session was the discussion. With visions of antelopes dancing in my head, I was enthralled as the distinguished panel entertained such questions as "Are YOU documents?" and "What isn't a document?".

The session that revealed the most about the social world of the field was SIG/CON. This was an evening event presented by a special interest group (SIG) whose sole purpose, it seems, is to lighten up the conference with spoof research presentations. This year's theme, "Knowledge Mismanagement," provided fodder for entertaining talks that ranged from to hilarious to groan-worthy. Joe Janes, apparently a perennial favorite at SIG/CON, was cited in several of the presentations, and gave a well-received talk himself: "Re-centering User-Centered Design," which suggested techniques such as makeovers for users. It's reassuring to know that this group doesn't take itself too seriously.

Suggestions for making the most of a conference

Not only was the ASIS&T conference a great forum to meet people and share ideas, it provided a wonderfully broad overview of the current trends in information science research, and was a lot of fun! I would highly recommend attending future ASIS&T conferences – or any professional conference, for that matter.

Some great suggestions about attending conferences are available in three articles by former iSchool students, which I would suggest reading if you plan to go to a conference (see sidebar). I'd like to share some new tips I picked up at the first event I attended – the "new members brunch," which featured a casual Q&A session with ASIS&T board members and past presidents. Someone asked, "How do we make the most of this conference?" and are here the notes I took of the responses:

• Go to sessions you think you won't understand to broaden your thinking.
• Session-hopping is okay; if you don't like a session, quietly leave and find a different one.
• Hang out in the hotel bar.
• Attend talks by the famous people who you've always wanted to see.
• Don't miss SIG/CON!
• Go to the networking SIG dinners.
• Get e-mail addresses from the folks you meet so you can keep in touch.
• Talk to anybody.
• Follow the free food (available at the many receptions).
• Consider attending the business or planning meetings; all meetings are open.

I'll vouch for almost all of these (I didn't get a chance to attend the networking dinners or the business meetings) and add two more of my own:

• Don't forget to enjoy the city hosting the conference! I only spent a few minutes at the beach, but that little bit of sand and sun in the middle of Autumn term was worth it.

• Apply for the ASIS&T-UW scholarship or any scholarship offering support to attend a conference that interests you!


For other articles written by iSchoolers with advice on attending conferences, check out the following links: