The Newsletter of the Association of Library and Information Science Students

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[Formerly the Sojourner]
March/April 1997

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Fieldwork
Judith Nyman-Schaaf

Students who participate in Directed Fieldwork (LIS 590) consistently rank it as one of the most worthwhile courses the School offers. The official catalog description of the four credit course is brief: "Minimum of 200 hours of professional, supervised fieldwork in a library or professional information agency." The Information Handbook for Students goes into further detail: "GSLIS recognizes the value of work experience in a real-life setting. Ideally, this should provide an opportunity to understand the concepts studied in the classroom and also to apply the skills which have been learned. One of the most successful components of the program leading to the Master of Librarianship is the course LIS 590."

There are only a few requirements for fieldwork. A student must have completed a minimum of 33 quarter credits in the program, including LIS 500, 501, 503, and a minimum of one course in at least four of the five concentration areas. The 200 hours of service can be spread over three consecutive quarters, but the student must register for LIS 590 in the quarter he/she completes the course.

There is a process to go through to apply for fieldwork, but that can be detailed elsewhere. There is an informational meeting on fieldwork April 10 (Thursday) at 2pm in 127 Suzzallo. Anyone thinking about doing fieldwork is encouraged to attend to have your questions answered. If you cannot make the meeting, don't hesitate to contact Judith Nyman-Schaaf in 133 Suzzallo for the information.

Fieldwork arrangements must be made through the office because it is a course for credit. However, students may do some exploring and investigating on their own prior to the initial interview with the director or Nyman-Schaaf. But, it is imperative that arrangements are not made by the student without prior approval.

Often doing fieldwork your last, or next-to-last quarter in school is the best time. Even though only 33 credits are required, 12 of those are in the foundation courses. Subtracting that total leaves only 21 hours of specialized courses. Of course, the more courses behind you, the better your experience will be and the more you have to offer the host institution.

If you want to do fieldwork in the Puget Sound region, timing is not as critical as it would be if you want to do it abroad, far away, or in an obscure place. Part of the reason for that ease of placement in the immediate region is that many local libraries/information centers know about the course and are eager to have participants. If it's someplace farther away, they don't know as much about the program so we have to do more explaining. It sometimes can take us a while to find a place that can be a host library.

Even if it's a local setting, however, you really need to allow at least one full quarter in advance so that arrangements can be made. Making those arrangements can take time -- people aren't always in their office; some institutions require approval of others such as their human resources office or director; some institutions want to interview the student; etc. Do give us time to pursue the best location for you.

The office doesn't maintain a master file you can search to find your "ideal" location, but that's why we meet with you after you fill out the paperwork. We can offer suggestions. We also receive requests from libraries/information centers who want to host fieldwork students which we share during the interview because it may be a location you've never thought about.

It's possible to split time between two libraries, but more than two would make your experience at each much less valuable. Students have done their fieldwork in places as close as Suzzallo Library to as far away as Australia. Experiences have been in large and small public libraries, large and small academic libraries, medical libraries, law firms, public schools, state libraries, and all ranges of special libraries. Some special libraries such as Microsoft and Boeing cannot host students because their interns are paid. Students doing fieldwork cannot be paid for the experience because credit is assigned.

Take advantage of this opportunity. It is an excellent way to prepare for the work you plan to do in the environment you have chosen.

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Fieldwork at Vancouver Public Library
Els Kushner

On a visit to Vancouver last winter, I fell in love with their new downtown library, especially the children's department. So I told the librarian at the desk -- who turned out to be the head of the department -- about the UW field study program, and about my interest in children's and young adult services and in possibly doing fieldwork at VPL. After some back-and-forth between VPL and UW, I ended up doing my field study there last summer and having a terrific time. I spent 6 weeks there, working on a variety of projects involving children's and young adult services and collections.

I had taken a class in the spring on Public Library Services for Youth, and was full of ideas for improving the library's Young Adult area, which had received much less attention in the new building than the splendiferously designed Children's Library downstairs. I had to scale down my notions due to some real-world considerations, such as the architect's restrictions on posting anything on the wall space, and the realization that whatever I started would have to be maintained after I left by a regular staff person, all of whom were busy enough already. Fortunately, my supervisors were supportive, and I set up an experimental suggestion box and graffiti board, which were well-used, [despite my fears that the graffiti board's "Question Of the Week" would just sit there forlornly staring at me, unanswered.] At the end of my field work my supervisor told me that they were going to continue both displays after I left, and also continue staffing the Young Adult desk part-time (it hadn't been staffed before). It was really satisfying to feel like what I'd learned in class wasn't just theory -- I could use it to create something that would improve the library.

In addition to getting experience with everything from compiling a resource list to putting together a storytime to assisting with paperback-buying (we actually went down to the bookstore with a list and tossed paperbacks into a shopping cart), I got a chance to see the everyday workings and policies of a large public library that I didn't already know well, as a patron or an employee, and that was actually in a foreign country. While VPL's structure was familiar enough to be comfortable for me, its "Canadian-ness" came through in everything from the strong union to a collection development policy that emphasized British and Canadian as well as U.S.-published books. I'm sure my fieldwork experience helped me to land the job I have now, in another downtown children's department, and that I'll be able to draw on it wherever I end up after I graduate as well.

I should mention a couple of things you'll want to know if you plan to do field work in Canada: this is a fairly expensive option, as non-Canadians can't legally supplement their unpaid fieldwork with paid work while they're there. I managed by subletting my room in Seattle, finding a cheap place to stay through friends of friends (the exchange rate was helpful here), and compressing my fieldwork into a relatively short time so that I could work in Seattle for part of the summer. Also, you'll want to clear yourself ahead of time with Canadian immigration. When you call Immigration, the phrase to use when explaining what you're planning to do is "unpaid practicum," not "internship." Internships are presumed to be paid positions (even if you insist that this one isn't) and are governed by very strict rules. I found this out the hard way.

In spite of glitches like these, I would recommend "getting out of town" for fieldwork -- to a different library system than the one you work in or plan to work in, if not actually to a different part of the world -- to anyone who can manage it. While the advantage of getting your foot in the door at a place where you already want to work can be compelling, fieldwork can also be an opportunity to experiment and get a different perspective, or just to work someplace where you might not get a chance to otherwise. After all, they're not paying you; you might as well go somewhere you've always dreamed of.

Unfortunately, VPL has had some budget cuts this year and isn't taking any student placements until 1998. If you're interested in doing field work there next year, in Children's or any other department, the person to talk to is Sue Yates, the regional manager, at (604) 331-4009.

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Fieldwork at Portland State University
Heidi Senior

Since I am from Portland, I did my fieldwork at Portland State University during the summer of 1996. I wanted to work on the Business/Government Documents desk but that department already had someone, so I ended up on the Social Science/Education desk. I was nervous about that because I hadn't taken a reference course in that area.

It ended up being a great experience! My supervisor was working on a database of archaeological site reports for Portland State students; I helped her update it by evaluating publications and getting data from them. We are still working together toward putting the database up on the Web for public access. When that happens I will have a publication under my belt. I spent the first three weeks of my fieldwork performing that task and the next two weeks putting together a website of resources for distance-education students in the Social Work program. My supervisor and the other librarians I worked with were as happy with me as I was with them, and they claim they will support me if a position ever comes open at Portland State. That's a bonus of fieldwork; it's sort of a trial-run for both you and the institution, and if it works out you have an "in" because the people know you. I heartily recommend fieldwork, and I especially encourage you to branch out into a library that doesn't get many fieldwork participants if at all possible. You never know how it will work out.

Any questions? Feel free to send me e-mail:

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Interview with Allyson Carlyle
Ken Thompson

Cataloging -- United States -- 20th Century
Cats -- Psychology -- Seattle (Wash.)
Junior High -- Insanity -- Burkina Faso

In an effort to acquaint you all with new faculty members, we decided to grill new faculty member and cataloging maven Allyson Carlyle on the past, present and future. She kindly obliged me in an email interview, of which this is an excerpt.

1. What was your undergrad major?

English Lit. and History, with a minor in French.

2. What made you move from that to LIS?

I've worked in libraries since I was in the 6th grade, the only break being my Peace Corps work. And now, if you consider being a faculty member non-library work. Actually, I worked for so long in libraries that I had a pretty awful attitude about profess ional librarians and thought I'd never be one. One of my college professors talked me into it. I was swayed by the argument that I'd get more vacation time and more money.

3. What did you do while in the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso?

I taught English to junior high school students, who are the same all over the world! They were great, but they drove me nuts. I decided I'd never teach again.... Not the last time my predictions for the future will be wrong, I'm sure.

4. Married? Significant others? Pets? How do you like Seattle?

Not married. Many significant others, but not of the sort you are asking about, I suspect. I have 2 cats, Emma & Kadi. Both girls, and they hate each other.

I love Seattle. I used to work in technical services at the Seattle Public Library so I've lived here before. It's nice to be back. Not to mention that most of my good friends from LA now live here. (Oops, I'm not supposed to admit that I used to live in California, am I???)

5. What's your teaching background?

Teaching English as a second language in Africa. Teaching assistant and TA coordinator for the undergraduate library course offered by the library school at UCLA. Faculty at Kent State Univ. for 2.5 years (taught the usual cataloging courses + a bibliogra phic instruction course). I'm quite interested in teaching as a discipline. I enjoy studying teaching and trying out different methodologies, as my students will discover.

6. What do you think is the most important thing to teach LIS students? (a purposely vague question)

I think it is important for students to get a sense of the profession of librarianship. It is a profession whose primary purpose is service to users. I don't know if it is possible to TEACH dedication to user needs, but it is the most important thing that students leave library school with, I think.

7. Do you see the current cataloging curriculum expanding, contracting, or changing any way?

Don't know. I think my teaching of cataloging is different from other people's teaching of cataloging, and so the curriculum will change because I am in it. I'd like to see a nonbook cataloging course added to the permanent curriculum, but that depends on who we fill vacant faculty slots with.

8. What is the most exciting thing about cataloging?

There is little that is not exciting about cataloging, in my book! I think it is the most intellectually rich and challenging part of library & info science. Little research has been done, so one can dig right in and do very important work. I make the ana logy to English lit: it is as if only a few articles and books had ever been published about Shakespeare--that is where we are in cataloging. I feel privileged to be working in this area right now. I also think it is great fun to teach.

9. Are you involved in any kind of research now? If so, what is it?

At the moment I'm writing a paper for the 6th International Study Conference on Classification Research to be held in London in June. It's an investigation into how classification can be used to organize author and work displays. Then I'm also writing up some research I did last summer at Kent. This is a study of how people organize documents related to a particular work. I had people put 47 different documents related to Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol into groups. They also had to give each group a n ame and write a description of it. I'm looking both at what kinds of groups people made and what characteristics they used to group as well as how closely the groups and characteristics match traditional library groupings.

10. Overall, do you think that libraries/librarians will play a larger or smaller part in people's lives? Why or why not?

I have no idea. But I'm not a library doomsday sayer. Just visit a public library in almost any community on the weekend. Then say they're going away, or they're going to play a smaller part in people's lives! I worked as a children's librarian to suppor t myself when I was working on my Ph.D. We would be so busy sometimes I couldn't believe that anyone who made predictions of the library's downfall had actually visited one lately. Did those kids use the Internet? Sure. Did that mean they spent less time in the library? Not that I could tell!

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Update on Everything
the more things change, the more they stay the same

Ken Thompson

Futures Committee Report

Well, it hasn't actually been approved yet, but we are inching closer to some kind of action on it. The delay was caused by the search for a new Provost, and the Acting Provost, Lee Huntsman, has just been hired, which is good news, since he has actually (theoretically) read the report. Now the problem is that all his time is consumed with getting the UW's budget pushed through the state legislature. It is hoped that in a couple of weeks, some decision will be arrived at. Additional good news is that Dean Landolt of the Graduate School is behind the plan (except for GSLIS becoming its own College, which now seems unlikely). [The full text of the report is now available on the web at]

New Faculty

Finally, the School's worst kept non-secret can be publicly revealed: Dr. Efthimis Efthimiadis has been hired. He's currently on the UCLA Library and Information Science faculty and will be arriving in Seattle to teach beginning next Fall. His homepage describes him thus: "[His] research is in information retrieval (indexing and searching), the design of front-end interfaces that improve access to databases, and the evaluation of information retrieval systems. More specifically, research focuses on the application of probabilistic techniques to information retrieval and in methods that incorporate user preferences and user interaction in the retrieval techniques...Professor Efthimiadis teaches courses on the principles of information retrieval, database design, online searching techniques, business information, and medical informatics." Also, approval has been given to hire two visiting faculty positions for next year only. The remainder of the faculty vacancies will be filled with adjunct faculty.


It remains unclear at press time whether Dr. Bassett will be staying as Acting Director of GSLIS. His one year appointment is up in June. Certainly it is in the best interest of the School to keep Dr. Bassett and provide continuity through this difficult period of transition, especially as there is apparently no likely candidate to take his place.


Well, the state legislature has not included money for the renovation of Suzzallo in the next biennium's budget. However, latest reports from Judith make it unclear about what exactly this means. So the office is still gearing up for the move to Bagley as if it is still going to happen. To further confuse matters, completion of Mary Gates Hall is apparently in question due to cost overruns, and the possibility now exists that GSLIS will not relocate eventually to Gates, but will come back to Suzzallo. Stay tuned for the next episode in this drama.

10 Credit Panic

As we should all know by now, next year it'll take 10 credits to be a full time graduate student. The School's may propose to increase some of the classes to 4 credits as a solution to the problem that most GSLIS classes are 3 credits and 3 classes is full time. So expect to spend some more time in class next year! Alternatively, 1 credit independent studies can be worked out with willing faculty members, but GSLIS is hoping that enough 4 credit classes will be created to solve the problem. A faculty/curriculum meeting is planned for 4/11/97 to address this and other curriculum-related issues, like finalizing a class schedule for next academic year.


The GSLIS Bunheads (I really think the name should have been 'The Z39.50s') won their first game 15-14 in five innings. Only three of the ten players suffered substantial injuries. Maybe we should warm up next time.

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Alumni Representative Report
Cass Shettleroe

Project Network will be on Friday, May 2nd, 1997 at approximately 6pm.

Project Network is an evening where representatives of different types of libraries come and talk. In addition, people who participate will have an opportunity to fill out a form ahead of time that will hook them up with a "mentor" of sorts in the field of library work that they request. At Project Network, they will meet their "mentor".

A more definite time will be set soon. For more information, please e-mail Cass Shettleroe at

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GPSS Update
Britt Fagerheim

The Graduate and Professional Student Senate held a meeting on March 12. A complete copy of the minutes can be viewing at The following are some highlights of the meeting:

  • The Senators were asked to write a letter to Gov. Locke to urge him not to decouple TA/RA salary increases from the faculty. TA and RAs are not included in the current proposal to give faculty 2.5% increases.

  • Differential tuition is again being debated in the House. The House version would call for a 12% increase for professional students in the Law and Business schools. The Senate version calls for 10%. Sen. Kohl is willing to introduce an amendment in the Senate. Kim Goforth, GPSS Vice-President, calculates that over six years, the increase would be 83% for Law School tuition and 54% for the M.B.A. program. The bill passed out of committee onto the floor.

  • Graduate Student Appreciation Week will be the Week of April 7th. More info later, but I heard the food is always great!

  • Some house-keeping changes were introduced for the by-laws. These were mostly having to do with the proposed shift of the budget process from a fall vote to a spring vote, and clarifying proxy voting during the elections. Also included are changes proposed to the duties of the officers.

  • Chris Haugen from Students for Washington's Future, which is sponsoring Initiative 674, explained the purpose of their initiative; to exempt Higher Ed from I-601. If anyone has any questions, they can e-mail

  • Dan Ferrell from Housing and Food Services announced that they are looking into bringing a brand name restaurant into the HUB. They are doing research, including hiring a research firm to do surveys and focus groups. On Friday, April 4th @ noon, there will be a focus group for grad students. Participants will receive lunch and $10 in coupons.

  • There are some developments with the Domestic Partnership Coverage. King County Medical will require the University to administer an ffidavit certifying that: the relationship has been more than 6 months, the student cannot enroll another partner within 6 months of relationship termination, and both partners must sign a termination form. There will be no rise in premium. However for every 40 domestic partners KCM asked to withhold 1% of stabilization fund to guard against excessive claim.

The next meeting will be April 9 in HUB 200. Everyone is welcome to attend! If you have any questions, feel free to email Jon (jonmc@u) or Britt (bfager@u).

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Dr. Herman Totten to Visit Summer 97

Herman Totten, Regents Professor at the School of Library and Information Sciences of the University of North Texas, will be visiting UW GSLIS this Summer to teach a 598 course on Information Resources and Services in Culturally Diverse Communities. He is fondly remembered as a very enjoyable teacher by our own Assistant to the Director, Judith Nyman-Schaaf. You can find out more about Dr. Totten and see what he looks like by checking out the web page at

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Edited by Kathleen E. Bennett (last updated 4/04/97)
Border background from Bordertown