Category Archives: iSchool

Alicia Niwagaba Wins TDL Graduate Student Excellence Award

Alicia Niwagaba, photo: Kira Matica
Alicia Niwagaba, photo: Kira Matica

Alicia Niwagaba, graduate research assistant at the Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA), was awarded the Graduate Student Excellence Award by the Texas Digital Library (TDL). She accepted the award during the Texas Conference on Digital Libraries on May 17. Niwagaba is a recent graduate of the Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS) program at the UT School of Information.

During her time at AILLA, Niwagaba has worked on developing an open educational curriculum designed to teach language documentation researchers how to organize and arrange their materials and metadata to facilitate their ingestion into a digital language archive like AILLA. This work is supported by the National Science Foundation under grant BCS-1653380, Transforming Access and Archiving for Endangered Language Data through Exploratory Methodologies of Curation.

Alicia Niwagaba, photo: Susan Kung
Alicia Niwagaba, photo: Susan Kung

Niwagaba is a key member of the project team, which additionally consists of AILLA manager Susan Kung and AILLA language curator J. Ryan Sullivant. “Niwagaba contributes valuable insight gained from her training in libraries and digital archives to improve the quality of the curriculum content and to incorporate literature and viewpoints that would not have been considered otherwise,” says Kung. The curriculum she is helping to develop will be taught as a weeklong course at the Institute on Collaborative Language Research (CoLang) at the University of Florida, June 18-22, 2018. Thereafter, the curriculum will be available as an open-access educational resource on AILLA’s website.

During her time at AILLA, Niwagaba developed a series of educational video tutorials about language archiving. These are designed to supplement the written curriculum or to stand alone as individual, shareable resources. Some of these engaging videos have already been widely shared throughout the language documentation community. This includes two that are available on YouTube: Language Metadata in AILLA and Filenaming.

Filenaming video created by Niwagaba (YouTube)
Filenaming video created by Niwagaba (YouTube)

AILLA manager Kung is grateful for Niwagaba’s contribution to the archive’s work, calling her “a critical member of AILLA’s curriculum development team.” Kung adds that Niwagaba “brings unique insight and perspective to the work that AILLA does. In fact, her efforts on this project have improved the level and convenience of service that AILLA is able to provide to our important stakeholders, the language documenters who entrust their precious, irreplaceable language materials to this repository. We are delighted that Alicia Niwagaba has won this award.”

View the Texas Digital Library awards announcement.

iSchool students Rachel Simons and Ginny Barnes work on Wikipedia pages at the SXSW event Keep Wikipedia Queer. Barnes is also a PCL Graduate Research Assistant.
Photo by Jeanette D. Moses/WYNC

70 Pages of Change and Counting

Most people think of SXSW as a giant party. But a for a group of us from the UT Libraries this year, SXSW presented an opportunity to make Wikipedia a more welcoming and representative place for LGBTQ+-identified people.

It started with an idea from some great folks at WNYC Studios, a public radio station in New York, to host an LGBTQ+ Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon during SXSW. WNYC produces the acclaimed podcast Nancy that covers modern queer identity. Hosts Kathy Tu and Tobin Low were at the festival to present on diversity in podcasting and wanted to do more in their off-time while in Austin. They noticed that many queer and trans topics don’t have robust Wikipedia pages, if they had pages at all, so they decided to tackle these significant information gaps.

I linked up with them in January, when they had the wisdom to reach out to librarians in Austin to assist with this event, Keep Wikipedia Queer. Event planning is more than one-person job, and I was able to partner with some graduate students from iSchool Pride, a group from the School of Information.

As we began planning, we realized that many people from UT might not be in town during SXSW. To encourage as much UT participation as possible, we decided to host Queering the Record, a pre edit-a-thon research event at the PCL during the week before Spring Break. Queering the Record provided structured time, space, and snacks for librarians, students, faculty, and staff to use library resources to identify topics that need Wikipedia pages and collect a list of sources that could be used and cited by edit-a-thon participants. More than 35 people attended Queering the Record, and by the end, we created a 23-page Google doc that we were able to share and work from at Nancy’s Edit-A-Thon.

Speaking of Nancy’s event – it was a lot of fun! During the 4-hour event held downtown, we met people from around Austin and around the country, all of whom are passionate about LGBTQ+ representation. Seven folks from UT attended, including some PCL Graduate Research Assistants, and we connected with a librarian from the City University of New York system. As a group, we edited more than 70 Wikipedia pages on topics as wide-ranging as comedian/blogger Samantha Irby, LGBTQ+ rights in Syria, Austin’s QueerBomb celebration, and the children’s book series Frog and Toad.

The response to both of these events from students and staff was so positive that we hope to hold more LGBTQ+ Wikipedia edit-a-thons in the future!

 A group photo from the SXSW event Keep Wikipedia Queer, including librarians and student staff from the UT Libraries. Photo by Jeanette D. Moses/WYNC
A group photo from the SXSW event Keep Wikipedia Queer, including librarians and student staff from the UT Libraries. Photo by Jeanette D. Moses/WYNC

Special thanks to iSchool student and PCL GRA Elle Covington for her contributions to these events!

 

 

 

Gaining from Experience

Ian Goodale.

As the fall semester kicks into full swing and due dates for papers and projects start to loom, the reference staff at the Perry-Castañeda Library is gearing up to best serve the student population at UT both in person and online. One of the key access points for many students seeking help in the evening and nighttime hours is the Ask a Librarian service, which is staffed by graduate students in UT’s School of Information. The program welcomed four new interns over the summer, all of whom are excited to serve both the UT community and the broader, international base from which they receive questions.

Christina Gasull.

While the Ask a Librarian interns each take multiple shifts staffing our instant messaging-based reference service, they also gain experience in several other areas of academic librarianship. Answering email questions received from patrons worldwide is an important aspect of the internship program, and allows the interns to interact with a very diverse range of questions across a broad spectrum of disciplines.

Laura Gienger.

Staffing the Information & Research Help Desk in person at the PCL is another vital component of the internship, and provides the Ask a Librarian staff with valuable in-person reference experience. “Staffing the chat, email, and Research Help desk has been an amazing learning experience about serving the varied information literacy needs of a vast research institution with incredible diversity,” said Christina Gasull, one of the new interns. Laura Gienger, a returning intern appointed last spring, agrees: “The most interesting part of this position so far has been getting glimpses of all the different research projects and papers that students are currently working on!”

Hayley Morgenstern.

Communication and collaboration with full-time library staff is another important aspect of the internship program. In addition to working their digital and in-person reference shifts, all of the current Ask a Librarian interns have taken on additional projects in fields they are passionate about, working with librarians to develop and carry out work in areas of their interest. Hayley Morgernstern is exploring subject librarianship in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Ian Goodale is working with the Slavic bibliographer to research and supplement online research guides and do cataloging work, Robin Vickery is creating stack guides for the dance, music, and theatre materials at the Fine Arts Library, Laura has worked with the digitizing of materials, and Christina is currently helping to revise the PCL’s Youth Collection.

Robin Vickery.

All of the interns are passionate about serving the diverse communities of patrons they encounter. As Robin said, projects “that advance the library’s mission to support its community of patrons and researchers are what interest me most about librarianship, so I am excited for the opportunity to be so involved!”

Authored by GRA Ian Goodale.

iSchool Volunteer Program Begins

 

 

For over 25 years, graduate students from the School of Information’s Masters of Science in Information Studies program have volunteered at the Perry-Castañeda Library at what is now the Research Help and Check Out desk.

Through the Volunteer Program iSchool students gain experience providing expert research help in a university library by shadowing experienced librarian coaches. Each volunteer is paired with one or two coaches who guide them over the semester. By the end of the semester, volunteers will begin answering patron questions with support and feedback from their coaches.

Participants from both sides of the program speak highly of the relationships that it fosters between experienced librarians and students who are just entering the profession. The iSchool students bring fresh enthusiasm to working at the library that benefits everyone who works at or visits the PCL.

This semester’s program began on February 2nd and will run through May 8th. This semester’s volunteers are Corey Fifles, Alia Gant, Nicole Harris, Rachel Panella, Jeremy Selvidge, and Alicia Zachary-Erickson.