We Called, You Answered

I must confess, we weren’t entirely sure what would happen when we opened our ears to readers. Sometimes, blogging can feel a bit lackluster, a vain attempt to articulate some moot point into the void. Other times, self-expression taps into a collective experience and calls us to be better, braver, and more authentic in our lives off-script.

A stunning example of the latter is Jay’s post on Becoming Impossible from earlier today (we’ll miss you, Jay!). Another example is the exceptional feedback we received from our readers. Over the course of two weeks, 173 of you responded to our humble survey. You responded to our call with creativity, criticism and all-around good advice. In addition, you’ve reached out to individual writers over email and in-person. Thank you for going above and beyond.

After looking at your responses, we’ve reviewed your comments, adding our own ideas to come up with the following initiatives for 2016-17:

  • Increase HLS visibility to and for LIS students
  • Improve website design and navigability
  • More vibrant posts

Initiative #1: Increase HLS visibility to and for LIS students

Most full time LIS programs are two years or less. Each year, roughly 50% of on-campus students will cycle in and out of a degree program. How do we adequately orient students to who we are and what we do when turnover is so high and our profession/discipline is so broad? This year, we are going to be more organized in how we connect with current and prospective students. HLS will be more strategic about how we use social media and partner with community members in individual programs to connect with students.

Visibility is a two-way street. In this sense, we will continue to follow the tradition of former HLS cohorts and to use professional organizations, conferences, and publications to showcase the work of LIS students and reaffirm the value of collaboration with and among LIS students in the larger LIS community.

Initiative #2: Improve website design and navigability

A couple years ago, the HLS rolled out a new website. One thing made abundantly clear in the survey results, you are ready for a new re-design. And we couldn’t agree more. Over the next year, expect to see some stylistic upgrades to the front-end of our site, including a more organized front page and a better browsing experience for mobile and tablet users.

We will also be adding an exciting new feature to our site, a Resources tool with information about different LIS programs, professional organizations, and other guides to help potential and current students familiarize themselves to the profession/discipline. Thank you Kendra and Hailley for fleshing out this idea.

Initiative #3: More vibrant posts

Remember how back in Initiative #1, I cited that 50% turnover rate? Well, there’s a problem with this statistic—it completely ignores the experiences of those who doesn’t fit that LIS student model. It ignores online students, part-time students, undergraduates and doctoral candidates, and everything in between. While HLS can’t be everything to all LIS students everywhere, we can strive to fill in the gaps of our collective knowledge and experiences.

The first frame for ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education argues that authority is constructed and contextual. By simply writing here at HLS, we are taking advantage of a privilege that isn’t afforded to all LIS students. Our experiences, coupled with the authority vested in us through our status as HLS writers also creates a blind spot on those who don’t mirror our own experiences. As managing editor, the survey responses that most resonated with me were those calling on HLS to be brave. Be brave about what we don’t know, and be brave about filling those gaps—whether it’s a difference in identity or a difference in opinion. These differences make for more authentic conversations. They get us closer to the ideal of a connected community that is comprehensive, vibrant, and robust.

This is arguably the most important initiative and the most difficult to quantify. But one thing is certain—vibrant content originates from vibrant authors. As such, we will spend the next year investigating how to create vibrant content from the inside out. We will reevaluate our writer policies to encourage greater turnout for applicants. We will connect with previous editors about previous successes and look for ways to update them for this year. Lastly, we will look for new ways to incorporate voices and opinions not represented by our current pool of writers into our rotation of Wednesday posts.

An Open Call

The scope of these initiatives is ambitious. Laughably ambitious, even. We are a small group of students, meeting virtually, scattered across continents, each in different programs. But as Jay put it so eloquently,

“No one goes to school alone. We may be tutored alone, we may study alone, we may learn alone, but no one ever goes to school alone. Hacking our education, in library and information science or any other subject, can only be a group project. We are in this together, and we are better together.”

If anything in these initiatives speaks to you as a student or working professional, please consider dropping us a line and offering your support: hacklibschool[at]gmail[d0t]. There is so much we can accomplish together, that we could never accomplish alone.



Kristina Williams, Managing Editor
Nisha Mody, Consulting Editor
Carissa Hansen, Community Manager
Amy Cross-Menzies
Annie Tunnicliff
Chezlani Casar
Des Alaniz
Georgina Rivas-Martinez
Heather Johnson
Jennifer Eltringham
Jessica Colbert
Kendra Werst
Lauren Hester
Sarah Rutz

Photo via Flickr, “cant understand what they’re talking aboot.” Creative Commons v. 2.0

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