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2017 ASIS&T Chapter Service Award Recipients Recount Their Experiences — Louisa Choy

Last year we sent four New Englanders to the ASIS&T Annual Conference in Washington, DC (October 27 – November 1) with travel awards paid for out of the proceeds from our regional winter conference. We had awards for one practitioner, one student, and two awards for services to the local chapter awarded to the program committee co-chairs from last year. In this four-part series, they share their experiences at the conference with us.

This week, Louisa Choy, recipient of the 2017 NEASIS&T Chapter Service Award recounts her experience. If you are interested in traveling to Vancouver this fall to attend ASIS&T Annual 2018, check out our blog post explaining how to apply!

As a practicing academic librarian at college that is very focused on professional majors and the practice of those professions, I’ve always identified more with the “library” portion of my M.L.I.S and the “information science” portion was something I engage in when I have time. Pretty much all the conferences I’ve attended have been focused on best practices within academic libraries and finding out ways to improve my day-to-day work. It was exciting to have won the Chapter Service Award which allowed me the opportunity to attend the ASIS&T Annual Meeting last fall - a conference that had a very definite information science and research bent. It was a fascinating experience to see the breadth of work information professionals do, the global network, and the implications of the research on so many disciplines and even on the government. 

My somewhat messy notes on the various sessions can be found in my NEASIST Google Drive folder, but I would like to highlight a few of my favorite sessions and moments.

Fiction as Informative and its Implications for Information Science Theory.  As a humanities major who has defected to the social sciences, I couldn’t resist this session.  The presentation points out that there has been an emphasis on science and the technical in information science, and fiction has largely been ignored. However, people do inform themselves through the reading of fiction.  There are many ways in which fiction can help readers develop an understanding of the wider world and allow them to develop empathy and affirm and contest social norms.  So why not research this and expand the information science field?  And do how certain fields are gendered play a role?

Global Human Trafficking Seen through the Lens of Semantics and Text Analytics. This session featured two examples of how information research can make a tremendous global impact. There was the use of text analysis on human trafficking stories in Kyrgyz to develop a knowledgebase of human trafficking in the country – targets, how the victims end up being trafficked, and destination countries. Another example involved a researcher working with the US Department of State to use semantic analysis to develop a profile that would help them organize reports of human trafficking. Between the US legal definition, legal definitions in other countries (written in different languages), and international standards, there are enough differences to complicate the process. As a result of this semantic profile, the government can reduce the amount of time organizing documents and focus on analyzing them.

Information Literacy in an Era of Information Uncertainty.   The session covered information literacy in the academic library setting, information literacy skills of migrant workers, health literacy, and workplace literacy. The session was different from past information literacy sessions I’ve attended in that it was not so much about teaching literacy skills, but figuring out where the target audience is at in terms of literacy, and matching practices and interventions to convey information in a way that creates meaning for the audience.

Public Services or Private Gains: Motives Behind Participation on a Mobile Crowdsourcing Application in a Smart City. Several researchers from Singapore examined and categorized the various motives that drive use of mobile crowdsourcing platforms in smart cities. Figuring out how to drive participation can rebuild that social connection that has been eroding due to technology and meet the information needs of both residents and governments so that they can all be empowered to improve public services.

Technology as Humanism: the Next Digital Frontier.  People have been speculating that books were in peril due to the prevalence of screens and other digital technologies. However, it is because of these screens and the resultant distractedness that there is a stronger need to disconnect, to seek quiet and order, and for books and paper to serve as an anchor for the consciousness. People are actively seeking out apps to help them disconnect and print is having a resurgence.

Poster Sessions.  Poster sessions are the conference equivalents of buffets. I love getting a taste of so many different topics. There were of amazing posters and 90 minutes was definitely too short to visit them all properly. I took pictures of a few of the ones that caught my eye. They’re blurry, but they have enough information for anyone to follow up on.

Attending the conference with fellow NEASIST members.   I’m usually sort of a loner at national conferences, so it was fantastic having Kate Nyhan, Annie Erdmann, Bill Lundmark, and Sylma Burgos with me, so we could gush and debrief about the amazing sessions we’ve attended and hang out together between and after sessions.