Introductory Post

Hello to everyone in INFO 287! My name is Sam and this my second semester at SJSU.

I was initially drawn to the MLIS program because of my experience working in a Berkeley bookstore as an antiquarian and rare bookseller. I fell in love with the process of researching rare books and ephemera, cataloging the titles into the bookstore’s database, and repairing fragile pieces of history so they could find new homes on the bookshelves of local collectors. Every day felt like a treasure hunt. I had long considered the prospect of returning to school for an MLIS, and this experience eliminated any lingering hesitation I had about continuing my education. I could easily envision myself working in an archive at a museum or academic institution. With this goal set in mind, I sat down at my computer and submitted my application at SJSU.

A portion of the antiquarian/vintage book section I maintained
From left to right: Lynd Ward’s Vertigo (a “wordless novel” which was an early precursor to the graphic novel), a signed first edition of The Ways of White Folks by Langston Hughes, and a signed limited first edition of The Reivers by William Faulkner.

I have to admit something, though: I went through a bit of a transformation after my first semester in this MLIS program.

While there is a part of me that enjoys the methodical, tactile, and somewhat meditative practice of repairing, researching, and organizing old texts, there is another part of me that is fascinated by the emerging technology of our digital age. The internet, and specifically social media, are changing the way humans exchange information, often with profound societal and political implications. We are entering uncharted territories in information science, and it’s at once both exciting and terrifying. Fake news, mis/disinformation, deep fakes, conspiracy theories, and the algorithms which promote or suppress their dispersal are all grave concerns to me as an MLIS student. I was already following these developments prior to my enrollment at SJSU, but my first semester enabled me to research these topics in-depth and in an academic setting.

One of my favorite classes last semester was INFO 200, which gave me the freedom to explore how mis/disinformation are effecting populist information communities (that research is available on my INFO 200 blog). INFO 200 was the first course I had ever taken which involved blogging assignments. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous to use a blog. Ultimately I found that I really enjoyed how creative blogging could be — I could share my writing, relevant news articles, Twitter posts, intriguing images, or video content. I was able to dive deep into the rabbit hole of the internet to find content for my blog, and the multimedia learning experience allowed me to extract so much more from the class. I learned how fun it could be to use digital tools in an academic setting.

One of the reasons The Hyperlinked Library sounded like such an interesting course was due to the description of it being a “choose your own adventure” using digital tools. I think virtual information communities are fascinating, and I’m doubly interested in how information professionals can use digital tools for library advocacy and addressing the disinformation crisis. I explored these themes by using Twitter for my professional synthesis in INFO 204. While the internet has caused some complications for information exchange, I think it has an amazing potential to be used for good. I’m interested in learning how libraries can evolve alongside the changing digital landscape. Based off the course description, I think this is the perfect class to learn more about this topic.

Anyway, I’m excited to work with you all, and hope that everyone is having a great start to their semester!

-SG