Last updated July 4, 2020
Alongside research and teaching, professional service to one’s institution, community, and field is an important part of being a faculty member, particularly in the context of a library and information studies (LIS) school and profession that places significant value on service and volunteer work. While service may officially be only 20% of my work as an assistant professor, I value it through connections to and promotion of the development of LIS research, teaching, and as an academic field; and as establishing and supporting my place in that field and community. In my constant if recently more selective commitment to service, I ensure it remains (a) relevant and connects to my career, research, and teaching; (b) valuable for the university, field, and/or community; (c) active in terms of my participation in all of these; and (d) meaningful and valuable for me as an academic citizen and human being.
Service is both necessary for employment and a responsibility faculty members should fulfill, to help in the running of their department, faculty, and university and in supporting their communities. The University of Alberta (2016) specifically calls out supporting “the public good” in its ongoing strategic plan, a vision supported by the School of Library and Information Studies (2020) and Faculty of Education (2019) I work in, and I believe my service must fulfill this same spirit. To be an engaged and responsible faculty member I must care about my surroundings; a relatively unsuccessful institution that is not transparent with and accountable to students, staff, and faculty negatively impacts them and my own job role and life as an academic. As someone who does my best to be a positive force in the world, my service philosophy goes beyond job requirements and my own job satisfaction to trying to make the institution, its units, and the LIS profession and field better, stronger, and more successful communities for all involved. I aim to be a positive force for such improvement in my service.
Service to the Institution
I often find committee work rewarding despite its sometimes-negative connotations. I chaired the Scholarships, Awards, and Bursaries Committee at the University of Alberta School of Library and Information Studies (U of A SLIS) for 2016-19, and was a member of it for the prior year of 2015-16, my first at the U of A. Under the chair’s direction, the committee adjudicates existing scholarships and awards; proposes changed and brand-new scholarships and awards supporting students' scholarship, education, and careers; and provides help to students looking for or applying for funding from external organizations. During my time as chair, we were able to make six new awards available to SLIS students; tighten practices and improve transparency in adjudication and the naming of scholarships and awards; formalize an internal Statement on Scholarships and Internships for Indigenous Students; and make available over $200,000 in internal and external funding to over 50 deserving SLIS students. Supporting and rewarding the success of SLIS students was very personally meaningful service to engage in as an assistant professor. I also successfully transitioned the committee to a new chair and new support staff member. My time in this SLIS committee should aid my serving on the Faculty of Education’s Graduate Scholarship and Awards Committee beginning in July 2020.
Additional SLIS committee service has included our Curriculum Committee (2015-17 and 2019-present), helping to assess MLIS courses old and new and discussing other adjustments to SLIS curriculum and related policies; this connects teaching with changes in the profession and research and aligns with personal values of ensuring transparency and accountability. I have been an active member of SLIS’s Academic Council and School Council, offering ideas, feedback, and opinions and actively listening to the same from others. I was also part of SLIS’s Accreditation Working Group and Accreditation Advisory Committee (2019-20), and part of our Admissions Committee (2015-present), finding it meaningful to accept deserving students who will thrive in learning research, theory, and practice; as future LIS professionals; and as valuable contributors themselves to the SLIS, U of A, and LIS communities.
Outside of SLIS, I served on the Faculty of Education’s HT Coutts Library Advisory Committee (2015-17) as a voice for SLIS concerns and ideas, and was also part of the Faculty’s Technology Advisory Board (TAB; 2016-18), a relevant role given my research and professional expertise in the areas of information technology and online communities. I am a frequent attendee at and active listener and contributor to Education Faculty Council meetings. I also took part in successful selection committees for a SLIS postdoctoral scholar (2016); a SLIS assistant professor (2017); and—as part of the Dean’s Pool for Advisory Selection Committees—an assistant professor in the Department of Elementary Education (2019). It was gratifying to seek out and welcome strong researchers and valued teachers to be members of our university community.
Finally, while a doctoral student I served as one of 3-4 doctoral student representatives to the Florida State University (FSU) School of Information’s Doctoral Program Committee (Oct 2010 – Aug 2012), representing student concerns, offering valuable input, and providing first-year students with advice and guidance. I also served as one of four representatives for the FSU College of Communication and Information in the student government body for FSU graduate students, the Congress of Graduate Students (2009-11), including as a member and later Vice Chair of its Academic and Student Life Committee. Both activities allowed me to give back to and benefit the communities of graduate students I was part of.
Service Integrating Research and Teaching
Much of my service connects to research and teaching, as I believe all three are important components of being a faculty member and for meaningful academic citizenship, but some especially integrates and promotes it. At FSU I helped present and facilitate five sessions of the School of Information’s Research and Teaching Proseminar and colloquia series, which helped integrate and explicate research, teaching, and service for doctoral students at all stages. A group presentation and discussion of key paradigms and epistemologies in LIS was particularly meaningful for me in connecting research, teaching, and service together to benefit fellow academics and doctoral students. At the U of A I presented a well-attended public talk on my ongoing research at SLIS in March 2016 and continue to attend those offered at SLIS by other guests and faculty, along with occasional talks elsewhere on campus. I plan an additional talk of my own in 2020-21 in connection with ongoing research and further integrating my service to the LIS field.
While at FSU I also facilitated (alongside faculty member Gary Burnett) the School of Information’s student-run Agraphia writing support group (Aug 2011 – Mar 2014), discussing writing and career progress and goals, supporting and mentoring each other’s activities, and keeping motivations high. While I have not engaged in such activities formally at the U of A, I often informally discuss writing, academic, and professional career considerations with SLIS faculty and students and others elsewhere. Those of us who have been through key career stages can and should advise and support others looking to follow in our footsteps. I find such mentoring and advising personally meaningful and plan to continue it.
Service to the Community, Profession, and Field
Service to one’s community is also important. During my doctoral program at FSU I served (2010-11) as Secretary of the local FSU-based Gamma Chapter of Beta Phi Mu, the international LIS honour society. We renewed the chapter’s commitment to providing value to our members, executed two successful annual meetings and guest speaker events, and recognized the efforts of our members as they began and continued their careers as LIS professionals and leaders. Service to my community remains a vital role for me as faculty member, but my focus has shifted away from this form of community to the broader academic community one is expected to be part of as an assistant professor. Such visibility and academic citizenship in my academic field and profession should be meaningful both in personal interest and value and towards becoming an integral part of the academic community, and not just as a strong researcher or educator. I have achieved this visibility and meaningfulness through multiple avenues of active service.
I have reviewed prospective articles for a wide variety of journals, notably including the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science (CJILS), the Journal of Education for Library and Information Science (JELIS), Library and Information Research, Journal of Information Science, Aslib Journal of Information Management, New Media and Society, and Library Hi Tech. I am also an editorial board member and Review Editor for JASIST—one of LIS’s top three journals—since mid-2017. I have reviewed paper, poster, and panel submissions for two of the biggest LIS academic conferences, the Annual Meeting of the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) and the iSchools-organized iConference, every year since 2012; and for the three most recent years of the Canadian Association for Information Science (CAIS) conference; three Social Media and Society (SMSociety) conferences; the 2019 Consortium for the Science of Sociotechnical Systems (CSST) Summer Institute; and multiple relevant mini-tracks of the Hawaii Conference on System Sciences (HICSS, in 2013, 2018, 2019, and 2020).
Peer review keeps me connected to research and builds my academic network in ways I expect to become even more meaningful as an associate professor, while also providing meaningful and accountable feedback to scholars as they prepare to publish or present. My reviews are well-received and appreciated by journal editors, manuscript authors, and program and track chairs; I believe this strength led to my JASIST editorial board position and recognition as the best reviewer of short papers for the ASIS&T 2019 Annual Meeting. I look forward to continued peer review, editorial, and conference program work when possible given other obligations, but have become more selective to ensure I contribute reviews when and where I have appropriate time, knowledge, and value to give and that the service remains valuable and meaningful to me as an academic.
Conferences and Academic Associations
I also remain visible by attending conferences and workshops, including ASIS&T Annual Meetings (2010-2019), CAIS Annual Conferences (2016-2019 ), Social Media and Society (2017, 2019), the iConference (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016), and the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) Annual Conference (2012, 2014, 2015). By invitation I have also attended three CSST Summer Institute events; in 2014 as part of an infrastructure team; in 2016 as an invited junior scholar "camper"; and in 2018 for the Decennial Sociotech Futures symposium. I have also accepted the opportunity to co-chair the 2021 CAIS Annual Conference to be held at the University of Alberta. I continue to look out for relevant conference and workshop opportunities not just for presenting research, but also an engaging way to keep up with both the field and the organizations associated with these events.
I am a member of ASIS&T (since 2010), ALISE (since 2010), and CAIS (since 2016). I am active in additional service to ASIS&T in particular, as I have found it to be my “home” association and conference and most comfortable fit in the information science community. I served for multiple years as the Communications Officer for ASIS&T’s Special Interest Group for Social Informatics (SIG SI), managing the SIG’s social media and communications venues including a Facebook group, Twitter account, web site, and listserv. At other times I served as Secretary, as Social Chair (a low-key role organizing social events for SIG members at major information science conferences), and facilitated two officer elections. I now serve as SIG SI’s Awards Coordinator, facilitating submissions for, review of, and the conferring of our awards each year. My research and teaching expertise in social informatics, my SIG SI service, and my other service to the LIS field mutually inform each other in ways I find impossible to personally disconnect. As with my institutional service in admissions and awards, it is personally rewarding to recognize strong scholarship in the research community I call home.
Outside of SIG SI I served on the Task Force on ASIS&T’s Web Presence for its entire existence (2013-14); currently serve on a Task Force on ASIS&T Diversity and Inclusion; was a Social Media Contributor for ASIS&T for one year (this including a small stipend); and have helped adjudicate many SIG USE (Special Interest Group for Information Seeking, Needs, and Use) awards and ASIS&T’s Cretsos Leadership Award. I received the latter myself in 2016, recognizing the value of my service up to that point to the Association and its community. This and other experiences indicate I have, and I certainly intend to continue to be, a positive force in service to my institution; academic and professional field; and regional, national, and international communities.
- Faculty of Education, University of Alberta. (2019). 2019-2024 Faculty of Education strategic plan: Education for the public good. Retrieved from https://www.ualberta.ca/education/media-library/strategic-plan/do_strategicplan_updatedapril1_singlepages_2019.pdf
- School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta. (2020). Vision, mission, and values statement. Retrieved from https://www.ualberta.ca/school-of-library-and-information-studies/about-us/slis-mission-statement
- University of Alberta. (2016). For the public good [strategic plan]. Retrieved from https://www.ualberta.ca/strategic-plan/index.html
Specifically, the Knowledge Organization Travel Award; SLIS Student Travel Award; Alvin M. Schrader LIS 592 Intellectual Freedom Prize; and Awards for Entering, Continuing, and Graduating Online MLIS Students. ↩︎
Formerly known as the School of Library and Information Studies, but became the School of Information in February 2014; the latter is used in this statement for consistency. ↩︎