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24-Hour Global Conference Recap

The ASIS&T 24-Hour Conference entitled “Theme: Networking, Sharing, and Learning: Challenges and Opportunities” was held on April 26-27, 2022. This was the first international virtual conference of its type. For conference purposes, the world has divided into three regions i.e. America, Asia/Pacific and Europe/Africa zones.

North America Region Summary

The ASIS&T 24-Hour Conference took place on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, kicking off in the Americas region at 9:00 am Eastern Daylight Time. The regional co-chairs Dr. Rachel Williams and Dr. Vanessa Reyes moderated the eight-hour program, which spanned several presentations in the form of keynote lectures, lightning talks, research papers, and breakout poster sessions.

The conference was initiated by the ASIS&T President Dr. Naresh Argarwal whose welcoming remarks set the tone for the rich presentations to follow. The opening keynote was delivered by Dr. Rebecca Davis, an Assistant Professor at the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons University. Dr. Davis presented her IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) funded research related to African American undergraduates and academic library use during COVID-19. Key findings from her talk centered on the ways in which African American undergraduates used the library, challenges they faced, and what their experiences were like during the pandemic.

From there, the North and South America region launched into the lightning talk session, which focused on presentations on “Information Resilience in a Time of Chaos: An Overview of Van Dwellers’ Information Practices in the Onset of COVID-19,” by Kaitlin Montague, Rutgers University, USA; and “Gender and Personal Information Spaces During COVID-19,” presented by Dr. Vanessa Reyes, University of South Florida School of Information, USA, and Dr. Kristen Schuster, Kings College London, UK.

After a short coffee break the conference continued with the first paper session of the day. The presentations included a talk on an ethics-centered approach to the analysis of machine learning in student mental health research by Dr. Sana Ben Hassine at the University of Quebec at Montreal, Canada. Kate Gregory and Lauren Geiger, both from  Mississippi State University Libraries, USA, discussed the challenges and rewards of collaborative research during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, Dr. Danielle Pollock from Simmons University, USA, outlined how design justice principles may be implemented in LIS education.

The lunchtime keynote address was entitled, “Vaccine Hesitancy and Exposure to Misinformation,” presented by Dr. Stephen Neely, an Associate Professor in the School of Public Affairs at the University of South Florida. Dr. Neely’s presentation brought attention to many factors related to vaccine hesitancy among adults in the United States. The presentation highlighted the critical role of information literacy initiatives in addressing misinformation. After lunch, the conference moved into poster sessions. In the breakout rooms, attendees discussed Denise Gomez’ (Florida State University, USA) posters on disaster planning for rural and small libraries and literary traveler’s information and motivation behaviors. Participants also delved into issues around consensus methods in scientific and technological expert communities with David Stokes, UCLA, USA.

The afternoon paper session was focused on academic library settings. The session considered a variety of issues within that context, including: open access services in academic libraries (Phillips Ayeni, McGill University, Canada); challenges and opportunities in virtual reference services (Laura Costello, Rutgers, USA); and developing cataloging training during COVID-19 (Joy DuBose, Mississippi State University Libraries, USA).

Finally, the first eight hour session wrapped-up with two keynote presentations. The first talk was from Dr. Christine D’Arpa, Wayne State University, USA. Her talk, entitled, “Shifting the narrative from resilience to recognition: Public library workers and work during the COVID pandemic,” challenged concepts related to the labor public library workers have done during the COVID pandemic. The closing keynote address from Dr. Brian Detlor presented on “Promoting Networking, Sharing, and Learning for Marginalized Populations through Community-Led Digital Literacy Training.”

The two final keynote talks tied together many of the themes of the day, including issues of labor, information and technology literacy, ways in which the pandemic highlighted the acute information needs of marginalized populations, and the opportunities for growth and collaboration that resulted.

Dr. Williams and Dr. Reyes, appreciates the assistance of the ASIS&T Staff, 24-Hour conference planning committee, presenters, and attendees.

Asia/Pacific Region Summary

Asia-Pacific is the part of the world near the western Pacific Ocean. The Asia-Pacific region varies in area depending on context, but it generally includes East AsiaOceania, the Russian Far EastSouth Asia, and Southeast Asia. There is a total of 61 countries that fall in this region.  In terms of area and the population, this is also called the biggest region of the world.

In our time zones, there were three keynote speakers, four invited talks, four long papers, four poster presentations, and three panel discussions.

The keynote speakers belong to Hong Kong, Pakistan, and Australia. All scholars were the renowned personalities of the region. A few renowned researchers were also invited to share their thoughts on different topics related to the conference themes. The participants also submitted their long and short papers for the conference and after initial review process the Asia/Pacific committee selected only those articles which were related to the conference themes. This region also arranged three panel discussions for the participants. The topic of the first panel discussion was “Non-Western approaches in Information Science Research”. The panelists of this discussion belonged to the Oceania region. The second panel discussion was made up of researchers from China and the topic of this discussion was “Fighting with the COVID-19 pandemic: How information research can help?”. The panelists engaged in the third panel discussion were the emerging research of the Asia / Pacific region and they shared their thoughts regarding “emerging research in Asia/Pacific” with the audience.

This region also has arranged the quiz competition for the participants. The purpose of the competition was to promote ASIS&T among the participants of the conference. All questions related to ASIS&T history, procedures, and office bearers. Cash prizes were awarded to  the winners, i.e., $100 for winner and $50 for two runner-ups. The participants enthusiastically participated and enjoyed this conference segment but only three registered members won the cash prizes.

Dr. Muhammad Tariq was the co-chair of the conference, and he and Prodip Roy were also the Regional Chairs of the conference. Michael Olsson and Jiban K. Pal were the other team members of Asia Pacific Region. All really did a terrific job to make this event successful.

The conference theme was networking, sharing, and leaning, challenges and opportunities.  So, the purpose of the conference was to bridge the gap between the information community around the world. The conference also provided a hub for the professionals for sharing and networking of their ideas and thoughts with their peers and other professional communities.

At the end, I would like to pay my thanks to all my team members like Prodip Roy, who is the regional co-chair of Asia/Pacific Region. He really worked hard during the arrangements of the conference and also moderated the session very well. Michael Olsson was another energetic member of this team and I admire his tireless contribution in completion of different tasks like review process of all submitted papers, moderation of the session as well as the arrangement and execution of panel discussion. Jiban K Pal, who was very enthusiastic and dynamic contribution. He planned, managed, and executed the idea of quiz competition. He proved himself a true ASIS&T volunteer.

I am also thankful to Naresh Agarwal, President for ASIS&T for his continues guidance and support. During the conference preparations, he emerged as a wonderful leader of the community. Thanks to Lydia Middleton and Cathy Nash who were directly involved in the conference planning, and due to their positive contributions, the quality of the conference was definitely enhanced. I am also thankful to all ASIS&T staff who were with us during the continuous 24 hours to execute this conference. I am also thankful to my co-chair Blessing Mawire, for her constant help and advice.

I am also thankful to all the presenters, keynote speakers, invited guest speakers, and the panelists who shared their thoughts and research with the audience. I am thankful to all the presenters for sparing their time and energy for this conference.

Last but not the least, I extend my gratitude to all the participants who joined us to make this international conference a successful historic event. I am sure that the knowledge gained from this conference will definitely enhance the quality of work in their work areas and will create a positive impact of their professional thinking.

Europe/Africa Region Summary

The 24-Hour Global Conference was the first fully virtual conference of the Chapters Europe and Africa and aimed to promote networking and stimulating information professionals in the area to become members of ASIS&T.  The ASIS&T 24-Hour Global Conference Europe/ Africa time zone was the first experience of collaboration between the two Chapters of ASIS&T. President Naresh Agarwal, Executive Director Lydia Middleton, and Director of Events Cathy Nash encouraged the program organizers to be innovative, to find and try new solutions that are offered by technologies and which are not possible in face-to-face conferences. The 24-Hour Global Conference experience achieved the expected result, and perhaps went beyond the organizers' expectations in some aspects. It also highlighted some critical points, on which we can reflect in view of the next global event.

The participation format was chosen to be as interactive as possible and designed to support numerous ways of learning, involvement, and sharing. To facilitate interaction and networking, the platform Miro was used to communicate between participants, for questions to the authors, and to always have an eye on the program and timetable. There are three different time zones in Europe and Africa and Miro reported the exact time for each of the zones. The Miro platform was especially useful when we had to change the program at the last moment due to the delay of a keynote.

The Program Organizing Committee brought together representatives of the two Chapters. They were: Region Co-Chairs Agnes Mainka, Germany;  and Anna Maria Tammaro, Italy; together with Conference Co-Chair and Committee Member Blessing Mawire, South Africa. Other members were Liezl Ball, South Africa; Tamara Heck, Germany; Aylin Ilhan, Germany; and Marton Nemeth, Hungary.

The most positive aspect of the 24-Hour Global Conference was the quality of the content presented by the authors of the papers and the two keynotes. Papers, short papers, and posters were all relevant and focused on the theme of the Global Conference. The Europe/ Africa Time zone program included two panels, six papers, eight short papers and posters.

Program Organizer Panel: The panel discussion from the Organizing Committee members on the New Normal strategy after the pandemic was part of the program, during which participants joined the conversation, adding thoughts in the chat, made comments, or just listened while having lunch.

Panel Session: Creating Connections for Enhancing Collaborative and Professional Development: Opportunities and Challenges. The chairs (Hilal and Webber) and chairs-elect (Msoffe and Rutter) of the Africa and Europe ASIS&T Chapters shared their experiences of creating connections across disciplinary, physical, cultural, linguistic, and virtual boundaries, and identifying opportunities and challenges. They also solicited ideas from participants for future collaborations between Chapters.

The choice of keynotes was an example of collaboration as the committee chose a well known expert from each of the two Chapters: Ina Fourie (University of Pretoria, South Africa) spoke on Information Behavior as Research Lens for Life: Our Challenges, Joys, and Opportunities; and Isto Huvila's (Uppsala University, Sweden) speech was entitled, "A Relational Information Science? For Networking, Sharing and Learning."

The two keynotes stimulated a lively conversation, and their themes were both inspiring and provocative, mostly based on their research on information science. There was a request for a follow up and to continue the conversation on the two topics chosen by the keynotes.

There were also some comments on critical aspects of the conference. Participation could have been more numerous, especially in the breakout rooms where the participants were limited to a few dozen. The succession of time zones in the 24 Hours led to starting at times that were not convenient for the Europe and Africa participants.