Update from the SLIS Dean, March 2016

March 15, 2016

Eileen Abels

Dean Eileen Abels shares recent events and future planning at Simmons SLIS

In February, SLIS welcomed Wayne Wiegand as our Allen Smith Visiting Scholar. Dr. Smith was a beloved faculty member at Simmons College in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) for 31 years. He taught primarily in the areas of reference, humanities, and oral history. Dr. Smith earned a Master of Library Science degree at the University of Denver and a Ph.D. at the Institute of Dialect and Folklife Studies at the University of Leeds, England. He also graduated from the Hillcraft School of Horseshoeing in Littleton, Colorado, and worked as a farrier. He enjoyed motorcycles and sailing and played a variety of musical instruments, including clarinet, saxophone, banjo and the Appalachian Dulcimer.   Following his death in 2008, The Allen Smith Visiting Scholars Program was established in his memory by family and friends. This fund has brought distinguished scholars to Simmons SLIS annually. In the selection process, preference is given to scholars whose areas of expertise include oral history, reference, or the humanities.
Dr. Wiegand led several sessions related to the American Public Library. His extensive research into the history of public libraries and the narrative style of his book Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library would have touched on Dr. Smith's diverse interests and research. Dr. Wiegand’s presentations inspired interesting conversations about the future of public libraries, specifically the physical space. An interview with Dr. Wiegand will be posted on the InfoLink blog this month. 

When we engage in discussions about the future of libraries, information centers, and archives, here at SLIS we also think about the future of educating librarians, archivists and information professionals. The curriculum in all of our programs (Children’s Literature, Computer Science, and Library and Information Science) is continually reviewed and modified to evolve with the needs of the profession. 

A few current projects at SLIS offer insight into the future of library and information science. Our podcast series, Beyond the Stacks: Innovative Careers in Library and information Science, presents interviews with graduates of MSLIS programs in unique careers one might not expect of someone in the field. An apt theme might be “I didn’t know you could do that with the MSLIS degree.” Our blog, Unbound, focuses on trends in the LIS field, such as art inspired by video games and computer hackers; how LIS students fight oppression; and art residencies in libraries.  

SLIS is not alone in preparing for the future. Simmons College is currently engaged in a Redesigning Simmons Project. The goal of the project is to create a distinctive, competitive, and sustainable learning environment. The MSLIS, the MA in Children's Literature, the MFA in Writing for Children, and the BS in Computer Science will remain as degree programs at Simmons. However, the organizational structure will change. All involved constituencies will have an opportunity to engage in the redesign. Faculty and staff have attended sessions to discuss ideas. Provost Conboy has held several webinars and an in-person session with alumni. Undergraduate and graduate students will have similar opportunities to engage. Please plan to attend a session and feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.

Please contact Alisa Libby if you have any questions or issues that you would like me address in my next column.

Until next month,
Dean Eileen Abels