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Jeremy McLaughlin

What attracted you to information science as a profession and field of study?

After a decade of working in different capacities with library-related technology and content publishers and vendors, I realized information science really was a passion that went beyond the job description in my daily professional life. I decided to pursue an MLIS so I could more formally explore different areas of information science and librarianship. Once I began to understand the wide scope of the profession and the applicability of its methods and processes to research and practice across disciplines, I was hooked.

In what area of information science do you practice, teach or do research? What about that area of practice/study made you choose it?

With a soft spot for bibliographic data analysis and an empirical focus on research outputs and workflows in the arts and humanities, my research interests lay primarily in two areas of information science: research assessment and impact studies (bibliometrics, altmetrics, the development of quality indicators), and, scholarly communications or scientific processes (eScience, Open Access and scholarly publishing, research data, researcher profiling and evaluation). The term I have adopted for my research focus is “the sociology of scholarly capital.” To me, this idea includes the social impact of the communication changes inherent in the digital transmission of scholarly ideas (or content) and the underlying social forces that shape concepts of academic value for individuals and institutions. The sociology of scholarly capital pervades why academics do research and how they find information. It influences what and where they publish and how their ideas are assessed and declared “valuable” by the community.

Why did you join ASIS&T and what does your membership in ASIS&T do for you?

I was fortunate to join the San Jose State University ASIS&T Student Chapter in my first semester in the MLIS program. Amidst the numerous emails new students receive, I remember the invitation to join the Student Chapter because it was specifically focused on information technology and building community within the larger iSchool experience (which seemed very overwhelming). I jumped in head first and have been actively involved in ASIS&T over the past 4 years because of the community and the ability to feel connected to like-minded peers with similar interests, even while experiencing the benefits of a large, international Association. Members can get involved in a number of ways that help them meet their current and future needs for personal or professional development and find their “people” in ASIS&T and the larger profession. Members can join Chapters and SIGs that help them focus on particular areas of interest or build regional networks with peers; they can expand their leadership experience by volunteering with Committees; and, they can explore research interests and professional development by presenting a Webinar or other event, and at the Annual Meeting by presenting papers, taking part in a Panel, presenting posters, and, of course, by staying up-to-date through JASIST. The ability to stay generally connected through a large Association while tailoring my specific involvement based on changing professional or personal needs has been the key to finding, maintaining, and continually expanding the value of my membership within ASIS&T.

What advice would you give to young people contemplating information science as a potential profession or field of study?

Regardless of your particular interests, the information science community means that you don’t have to re-invent the wheel to find your way or to be successful. Do not be shy about speaking up or asking for advice or help, take on leadership roles when you can, and definitely don’t be shy about making sure that your experiences meet your personal and professional needs. Reach out to faculty and other students, invite “research celebrities” or luminaries to present a webinar on a topic you are interested in, and never be afraid to ask. Whether within ASIS&T or the larger profession, our peers and colleagues in the information science field are a welcoming and friendly bunch. Tap into that expertise in the ways that make sense for you and build from it….even on day one you don’t have to start at square one!

What do you think will be the biggest challenge for those working in information science in the next decade?

Fake news and information literacy in a Google-ized world will continue to be important topics in the next decade. As we move into the post-Information Age, one of the biggest challenges facing all information scientists will be to continually make connections between the day-to-day information needs of an increasingly online/wired public and the expertise of our profession. As demands and expectations around information change, we can expect more attacks on Libraries and “traditional” sources of information. In the face of change and challenges, it is increasingly important that the value of information and information professionals be expanded and reflected in new ways. Information science should adopt and adapt as a mantra the famous words of Linton Weeks and remind policymakers and the public that within the nonstop tidal wave of global information, information science not only helps fuel the wave but it also provides us with the floaties and teaches us to swim.