The Newsletter of the Association of Library and Information Science Students

The Silverfish Logo

[Formerly the Sojourner]
January/February 1997

Update on Everything
Ken Thompson

As you may recall from the last Silverfish, there were many pending changes about to occur around GSLIS. Here's what's up:

Instead of GSLIS moving temporarily to Bagley and then back to Suzzallo after renovations are completed, it now appears likely that GSLIS will never move back to Suzzallo, instead finding a new home in Mary Gates Hall (directly south of Suzzallo). Whether the temporary move to Bagley will still occur is still up in the air.

Futures Committee Report:
The report came out, and most faculty and students seemed to be largely in favor of the recommendations. As I write this, we are waiting for the UW Provost to make some kind of decision about whether the recommendations should be implemented or not. (If yes, the report then needs the approval of the President.)

All hiring of new faculty is still on hold pending the Provost's action on the Futures Report. After the decision comes in, hiring will commence apace, I have been assured. Other plans have been suggested to make sure that a lack of full-time faculty doesn't lead to reduced course offerings.

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The Glory of Metacrawler
Darla Linville

On Tuesday, February 4, Erik Selberg came to speak before a rather populous colloquium crowd about the beauty and glory of Metacrawler (, a Web search service he designed with Oren Etioni and that was created here at the University of Washington. To the delight of the crowd, he made a thorough demonstration of what Web search services do, what metasearch services do and what are the problems and pitfalls involved with their maintenance and operation.

Metacrawler is a metasearch tool, which means that it uses the search capacity of several search services at one time to do a more thorough search for the client. This gives them better recall than most services have, a highly desired boast in the search engine world. Metacrawler also filters the responses it gets back by checking them against the query. This gives them better precision, and voila, a better search service than you can get with any of the single search services themselves.

Selberg spoke also of a future vision that they have at Metacrawler, to incorporate relevance feedback into their service. This would involve a user/service dialogue to determine if the desired information was found and suggestions of other search terms. This would make the service more helpful to inexperienced users. They are also in the process of creating a UW search service called HuskySearch which can be found at

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Great Classes in Other Departments

There are many classes outside the Graduate School of Library and Information Science that can be of great benefit, both philosophically and practically, for our education and career preparation. Librarianship is very much a "real world" profession, in that we will be interacting with people from all walks of life and have to be prepared for almost any situation. Following are some tips from GSLIS students on places to look for broader educational horizons.

Elements of User Interface Design
(IE 455/TC 455)

Heidi E.K. Senior

During Spring Quarter of 1996, Karen Eliason (Access Librarian at the Undergraduate Library) came to my User Education class to talk about the graduate work she was doing in Technical Communications. She made it sound so interesting that I looked up Fall 1996 offerings in the time schedule. I sent e-mail to the instructors of two Technical Communications courses and received positive responses from both of them.

"Elements of User Interface Design" is a required class in the Industrial Engineering department, but don't let that scare you. It's considered a "human factors" course - no math - and since it's user oriented, it's right up our alley. The professor, Tom Furness (head of the Human-Interface Technology Lab), considers the class to be an introduction to creative thinking and to the process of designing an interface. He had a broad definition for "interface." We had a half-dozen "pop quizzes" where Dr. Furness asked us to design a one-armed wheelbarrow, or a clock with no hands, or a stove for a blind person. There was a short-paper assignment on evaluating a video game in an arcade, and a huge team project on designing an interface. My team designed the screens for a handheld system that would tell a traveler where certain attractions were located and provide maps as well as instructions for the taxi driver in the local language. We performed user tests and gave a presentation of our results at the end of the term.

If you would like to know more about Technical Communications courses, I'm sure Karen Eliasen would be happy to help you:

Public Management: Personnel
(PB AF 523)

Julie Tanner

This 3-credit class is an interesting and valuable one for librarians, as most of us will be working for local, county, state, or federal government. Topics covered are the history and politics of public personnel management, the "spoils" system, human resources planning, equal employment opportunity and affirmative action, comparable worth, labor relations, training personnel and performance appraisal. Of interest and great worth was learning what questions an employer may legally ask a prospective employee, and what questions are off-limits. This is helpful if you are the one applying for the job, then you know which questions you don't have to answer. Also, valuable information concerning ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

This course was made up not only of students from the School of Public Affairs, but there was one student from the School of Education, a woman who worked for the UW police department, and a woman who worked part-time for the fire department in Kirkland. It was enlightening to hear how other professions handle labor disputes, etc. The course is taught by Ernie Miller (and yes, everyone calls him Ernie), a very approachable and well-liked professor. The course requires an entry code that you can get from the secretary of Public Affairs.

Introduction to Museology
(MUS 480/ANTH 480)

Julie Tanner

For anyone interested in museum work, this 3-credit class is a must! Taught by the curator of Asian and Pacific Ethnology at the Thomas Burke Museum, this is an introductory class into museums of all kinds; art, cultural, natural history, science and technology, historical, aquariums, zoos. Areas discussed are the history, funding, role of the director in the museum; conservation, perservation and restoration of exhibits, architecture, design and building of museums, repatriation with a focus on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, exhibit design, and careers in museums with invaluable information about salary in this kind of work (it's lousy). We had several guest speakers including the director of the Seattle Children's Museum and the Education Director at Woodland Park Zoo.

This class also requires an entry code and if you really want to take this course, talk to Miriam Kahn, the instructor, whose office is in the Burke Museum. It is popular and fills up fast. Only offered fall quarter.

Writing, Designing, and Desktop Publishing
(URBDP 498B)

Larry Krasner

Last summer quarter I finally ventured into electives territory--and came out smiling. "Writing, Designing, and Desktop Publishing" (URBDP 498B) has been a recurrent skills class offered at the College of Architecture and Urban Planning (Gould Hall). A 4-credit, credit/no credit class, the course is an intensive immersion in Word and PageMaker, with practice in scanning, Photoshop, and Excel charting. Mac is the favored platform, but Windows is used as well.

Dena Assaf, the instructor, really delivered: she engaged the eleven of us with a deft mix of graphic design concepts and plenty of hands-on exercises and projects. A doctoral candidate in Urban Planning, she consults in desktop publishing and related computer applications. She really cared about our progress and gave each of us plenty of personal attention as we worked through our projects in the labs.

By the end of a full summer term, each of us produced our own newsletter, reformatted a document using Word's many bells and whistles, and got a brief grounding in the basics of email and the Internet. This course would be especially valuable for those of us planning to write a thesis; Dena offered advice and copies of the University's style manual. A great course, I highly recommend it!

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SLA Chapter Presents Sylvia Piggot
Raney Newman

I attended the presentation by Sylvia Piggot, president of the Special Libraries Association, on January 16. It was seething with un-library school looking-types, in ties and with steely eyes. It looked like a good networking opportunity. And that's what she emphasized in her talk. She had the nicest accent that was a mix of Canadian, British and Jamaican. I was trying to decipher which country each vowel came from as she talked about the need for continual self-education and self-evaluation, to make sure you are staying on target with your goals. I gleaned the idea that in special libraries, we need to take charge of our own development. The presentation sometimes seemed a bit esoteric, and I would have liked more real-world examples, but some of her little maxims were interesting. She said: don't stay in a job you don't like, don't hang around negative people, congratulate yourself for trying with every job application, even if you aren't hired.

She also had some intriguing ideas with regard to library schools, which is relevant in this time of transition in this school. She suggested that there should be a mingling of ideas by the business, education, computer science and library school departments. This needn't be limited to only those departments. Having lunch with her and my fellow SLA officers, she told about her student days, crusading to reform the library school. One of her tactics which was brutal but effective was to threaten to report the poor teaching quality to the student newspaper if there weren't changes made. It ended with several of the faculty going on sabbatical, and new faculty being hired. I thought they might have had some grudges but the school hired her as an administrator when she graduated.

With regard to the kinds of jobs we can do, she mentioned that people other than librarians will be coming into the field of what has usually been done by the special librarians; however, new kinds of work will simultaneously be opening to us. Some of the job titles she listed were Client-server Network Administrator, Knowledge Management Officer, Systems Librarian, Intranet Consultant or Designer. I got a feeling that we could create our own job title, depending on which areas of skill we develop.

To prepare ourselves for a self-created role, taking charge of our education is vital. She listed some of the useful skills: web development, intranet, database design, public relations (for proving to someone why they need our services), installing CDs, and teaching skills (to facilitate user self-sufficiency).

Altogether, I came away from this inspirational talk and meeting with a clearer idea of what awaits after library school.

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Special Libraries Association UW Chapter - Introduction
Raney Newman, vice-chair, SLA student group

Hello Everyone! I'd like to introduce the officers of the GSLIS SLA Student Group, and mention some of our upcoming events.

Aaron Oesting (e-mail is our beloved president. He's pretty easygoing, as long as you spell his name right. He has been living in Seattle for years after a long stint overseas and was most recently employed at a software company. Tiffany Tuttle (e-mail is our Secretary. She is a recent graduate of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She is also an officer in ALISS. She has really nice, boingy, curly hair which I envy, in case you want to spot her in Sam Oh's class, cataloging or various other mindboggler classes. Steve Weil (e-mail is the Treasurer, and has been around Seattle for several years. He has been a social worker, and now, I believe has his own web-related business. He is also student rep for the SLA Student and Academic Relations Committee. Me, I'm Raney Newman (e-mail, the vice-chair person. I like fiddle music and theater, and the fact that they actually trust us to use IOU slips (I only owe ten cents, really.) I bet they don't do that in the hard-bitten world of special libraries, public libraries maybe...

The SLA student chapter here hosts various events which provide valuable insight into the world of special libraries, career-related but enjoyable at the same time, like fat-free candy-bars. Watch for notices posted on our board about speakers from special libraries in the area. And watch for the dates for SLA student group meetings. We take any and all input on what kind of speakers you want to hear. Sylvia Piggot, the president of the Special Libraries Association, came to talk in Allen auditorium, January 16th. February 6th, there was a talk from a representative of Pathogenesis, who talked about reengineering library services. There will be a tour of King County Law Library on Valentine's Day. Time to be posted; we will meet at the library school and proceed to the buses.

Take advantage of the free admission to this summer's SLA conference if you volunteer 8 hours at the hospitality desk. The April meeting of the local chapter will emphasize how to make your conference experience interesting and productive.

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News from SALA
Ginny Allemann

The new SALA (Student American Library Association) board is finally in place! We are: Bonnie Parks (bonster@u), Chair; Deirdre Miller (mdeirdre@u), Vice-Chair; Ginny Allemann (valleman@u), Program Chair; and Sarah Kielhack (sarahwk@u), Conference Chair. Two other people, Cass Shettleroe (cshettle@u) and Julia Paulsen (gringa@u) form the "leadership group." We are excited about SALA, but just a little overwhelmed as we head into the second half of the quarter.

Our mission, or goal (or is it an objective?) is to provide service and educational opportunities as well as some fun activities for all students of the GSLIS. Please watch for information about our general meeting (sometime in the next month) and a social/fun gathering of some sort in the near future. (I know I could use some fun -- not that my life hasn't been infinitely enriched with Dialog searches and HTML pages!) Though you probably already have a few things to do, you might consider joining in on a 2-3 hour volunteer activity in February. It really can be a way to get a little perspective. The two opportunities are:

  • Wednesday, Feb. 19, 3:30 to 6:30 PM. Madrona Elementary School. The librarian has a large order of new children's books coming in and needs help covering them. Only three to five people needed.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 26, 3-6:30 PM. Franklin High School. The librarian needs help weeding reference materials, as well as some cataloguing and shelf reading. Other projects may be available too! I'm, oh, 80% sure that she'll buy us some pizza too. As many people as want to come are welcome.

Just sign up on the SALA board, or contact one of the people mentioned above. If neither of these works for you, but you'd still like to help out a public school in need, contact Ginny for other options. We can arrange small group volunteer activities with a number of Seattle schools. Thanks for reading and watch the SALA board for more info.

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GPSS Update
Jon McConnel

Just a little update from your friendly GPSS Senators. There is a copy of the minutes for the January meeting available for viewing at, and also on the bulletin board outside the student lounge. This is all so you can check up on us and see what we're up to!

The meeting was on Wed., Jan. 8 in the HUB. Nothing was voted on, rather the meeting was for discussing policies and positions that are still in the formative stage. Highlights that may be of interest include:

  • A GPSS proposal to the parking fees committee to keep the burden of parking fees at the current ratio between employees and students, instead of shifting the burden more toward students as the faculty and parking committee have proposed.

  • Discussion of the views of graduate students on a system-wide policy concerning academic integrity and grievance procedures (what happens when you're accused of cheating). Currently departments have their own policies (or not, as the case may be), decisions of which may be appealed to the Faculty Appeal Board (7 faculty members), and then to the president of the university. Consensus of the Senate seemed to be that there should be guidelines that departments must follow in making their own policy, appealable to a committee of students and faculty. A recommendation to be presented to the administration (who requested our input) will be voted on at the next GPSS meeting, in February.

Also brought up in the course of the discussion was the procedure concerning academic dishonesty on the part of faculty. Apparently intellectual property defaults to professors on this campus, so it's not unknown for students to have their research stolen. Would faculty agree to have appeals on these matters heard by a committee of 7 graduate students? Interesting question....

If you have any questions, feel free to email Jon (jonmc@u) or Britt (bfager@u).

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Edited by Kathleen E. Bennett (last updated 2/07/97)
Border background from Bordertown