Ask a Librarian and Alumni Mentoring

Jessica Riggins visited SOLIS for our second Brown Bag meeting of the Fall 2013 semester yesterday (October, 23rd). Jessica discussed the Ask a Librarian program, which is a chat-based reference service for Florida residents run by the Tampa Bay Library Consortium (TBLC). Ask a Librarian is partnering with USF to allow current students and recent gradates of the MLIS program to volunteer their time to train for the Ask a Librarian program and work the Ask a Librarian virtual desk. MLIS students are encouraged to complete the training via:


Jessica also spoke about the LIS Alumni society and a mentoring program that they are offering MLIS students. If you are looking for a mentor to help guide you through the job application process (reviewing your resume, interview tips and tricks, etc.) then the LIS Alumni society may be able to help! They are interested in helping current students find jobs and they want to work with you. So, if you are interested in volunteering your time to Ask a Librarian or if you would like to learn more about Alumni mentors, feel free to e-mail Jessica Riggins at

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News and Updates

Posted by Rebecca Durney (SOLIS webmaster)

Check out what’s going on in the LIS world!

Interested in medical librarianship? This  might be an opportunity for you!:

“The Medical Library Education Section of the Medical Library Association sponsors a “New Voices” program every year to feature student and/or recent graduates’ research.  Please consider submitting a contributed paper abstract for the 2014 Medical Library Association Annual Meeting to be held in Chicago from May 16-21, 2014.  For more details, visit”:

ALA is offering a discount for participating ALA chapters:

“Want to join ALA and your state library association for $35 through the joint student program? It’s a great deal!

Find out if yours is one of the twenty-five Chapters (state library associations) allowing students to join them and ALA for one low price of $35, from now through August 31, 2014. (See also You Need Your State Library Association!).

ALA encourages students to apply for joint student membership online, so if yours is one of the 25, complete the online form through ALA’s secure database.

In addition, be sure to visit ALA membership pages and the ALA Student Members page for the most current information about all types of ALA membership, as well as the ALA Student Chapter homepage, to learn about benefits such as the Student to Staff program. If you have questions about ALA membership, please contact ALA Member and Customer Service. Also visit the ALA Student Support Portal.”

What the Zine?

“My name is Philip Bloom, and I am the organizer of last month’s Tampa Zine Fest. The organizers of the fest are creating a Tampa Zine Library, and we have collected several hundred zines.  Next comes the task of cataloging them, and we thought that there might be some students in the program that might be interested in participating in this fun project.  Several of the organizers are librarians, and we’d really like to include students, if they’d like to be a part of making this library happen.” E-mail us at if you’re interested!

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Nominate a great LIS instructor today!

posted by Rebecca Durney, SOLIS webmaster

SOLIS would like to share this e-mail with everyone:

Good afternoon!
Do you know a passionate, innovative, student-centered LIS instructor who deserves the recognition of her or his peers? If so, nominate this paragon for the Library Journal Teaching Award, co-sponsored by ProQuest. The winning instructor will receive $5,000 (USD) and an article in the November 15 issue of Library Journal.

Nominations—being accepted now—are due no later than September 16, 2013.

If you are a current LIS student, a recent graduate, or a faculty member, help us recognize a deserving LIS instructor who is making a positive difference in the world of librarianship.


Anyone who has taught a course at an ALA-accredited master’s program since September 3, 2010, as full-time faculty or as an adjunct, is eligible.

Who can nominate

Current students or recent graduates and faculty members are encouraged to nominate candidates. Students must have taken a class from the nominee within the past two years.

What to submit

Candidates will be evaluated primarily on the basis of the nominating letter (no more than two pages in length or email equivalent), but nominators are welcome to submit also letters of support and supplementary material (examples of coursework, etc.) for the judges to consider.


As much as possible, please send submissions in an electronic format such as a Word document or a PDF via email to

Or mail nominations to:

The LJ Teaching Award

Library Journal

160 Varick St., 11th Floor

New York, NY 10013

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Wanted: Secretary

Hello everyone! Well, Spring semester has just ended and we’ve elected new officers for the coming Fall semester. On the 7th of May we had our first officers meeting and realized that we are still in need of a secretary. So, if anyone is interested in becoming involved with SOLIS, meeting the officers, and helping us to keep organized please let us know! Write on our SOLIS Facebook wall or just come to the next meeting – scheduled for August 5th at 5 pm in CIS 2020.

Also, keep an eye out for an updated SOLIS website. We’ll have pictures of the new officers and a short bio for each – coming soon!

Rebecca Durney (SOLIS Webmaster)

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SOLIS Regional Meetings: Libraries’ Backstage Passes and Networking Opportunities

by Rino Landa

Mention a “backstage pass” and you might envision yourself walking behind a chaotic stage being primed with smoke machines and pyrotechnics by a bustling crew. Yet, not all backstage passes provide such a predictable experience. While there were no fireworks or craft food tables during a backstage tour of the Selby Library in Sarasota, Florida, there were plenty of heavy-duty machines, walls filled with music, and many rock star librarians.

Our backstage pass was provided by participating in one of the first SOLIS Regional Meetings. Planned as an informal get-together, the Sarasota-Manatee Regional Meeting took place in the heart of downtown Sarasota with the goal of bringing local MLIS students together to share our experiences about the USF program, recount professional stories (some horror), network, and just have fun. The saying “the best of college learning might be outside the classroom” rings true when you have opportunity to learn from peers that share the same joys and pains of being a library science graduate student. You will be hard pressed to find course recommendations, volunteer opportunities, assignment discussions, and links to professional contacts in a virtual classroom, however, these were in abundance at our Regional Meeting – talking in person still trumps a chat screen.

Of course, there is also no way of going backstage in the virtual world. However, after getting to know everyone who attended the meeting, it was time to go backstage. Our guide was Marilyn Nykiforuk, Assistant Manager for Selby Library, who not only gave us the full VIP tour behind the key-code-guarded doors of the staff area, but also offered honest answers about the challenges faced by public libraries, shared some of the positives of public librarianship, and even gave us more than a week’s full notice that Sarasota would be looking for part-time library staff before the announcement was officially posted. During our tour we also wandered through the immense collection of music recordings and sheet music maintained by the Sarasota Music Archive and watched in awe as books and DVDs were fed into the automatic sorting machine that lies behind the innocuous book-drops along the library’s facade.

Like any other academic program, the core of the School of Information is its students. The closer that students feel to each other, the closer we will feel to the department and ultimately to the profession. By providing the opportunity for students to meet in their local area, surrounded by the resources that they are familiar with and more easily able to access, the Regional SOLIS meetings allow for a stronger sense of academic and professional community. We might recognize a classmate from a prior class when they submit their introductory posts at the beginning of each semester, however, Regional Meetings offer a chance to connect a face to the name; suddenly, a name that you see in Blackboard posts or next to the chat window of an Elluminate session is more than just text. There is no reason to let geography limit the personal and professional friendships that can be forged by actively participating through SOLIS in our local communities.

Regional Meetings bring the School of Information out into the communities where many of our alumni will eventually serve. Future meetings, with more local students, will undoubtedly help foster the networking opportunities that will not only improve our local communities but offer greater recognition for students at USF’s School of Information. As future rock star librarians we shouldn’t give up the chance to use the backstage passes that Regional Meetings offer; not when every library can be a different stage, with new opportunities to learn and grow from our current and future colleagues.

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How Libraries Meet the Needs of Their Patrons: How the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative Is Meeting the Needs of the Deaf Community

by Jacquelynn Mantel

Imagine for a moment that you are a goldfish in tank. You can see everything going on outside the tank, but you have no idea what is being said or the context of anyone’s actions. For the Deaf, this is their reality. Now, imagine being Deaf, walking into a library and trying to ask for help. Perhaps you need to locate a book and have forgotten the title or author or you are trying to print out a document from your email. What if the librarian couldn’t understand you, was impatient with you or made you feel stupid? These two examples are basic situations in which library staff routinely assists patrons; for the Deaf, however, these seemingly simple transactions can be fraught with frustration and can make them reluctant to ever use their local library. One of the important functions of public libraries is to serve the patrons in their community, but what are some of the ways that they successfully reach underserved populations such as the Deaf?

ImageThis question was at the heart of a wonderful library talk sponsored by SOLIS on Friday, February 8th 2013. Rosa Rodriguez, Director of the Deaf Literacy Center, spoke to students at the Safety Harbor Public Library, where the Center is based. For the past 14 years the Deaf Literacy Center has been an asset to the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative. Some of its most popular services include basic literacy programs, signed storytimes, family mentorship, and ASL classes. The need for the program and outreach is real, as Mrs. Rodriguez illustrated for us with this statistic: 90% of Deaf people have at least one person in their family who cannot communicate with them. Also, 70% of Deaf people who graduate high school do so with a third or fourth grade reading level. According to the Deaf Literacy Center’s website, the Florida Association of the Deaf estimates that the Tampa Bay area has close to 350,000 Deaf or hearing-impaired residents, the 5th largest concentration of Deaf persons in the United States.

The need for communication was one of the main themes that kept recurring throughout the discussion. One of my friends that had taken ASL classes at USF had explained to me that ASL is its own language. I had always assumed that it was simply a way of using hand gestures that spelled or represented English words, but, like any language, ASL is imbued with its own culture. That idea did not really hit home for me until Mrs. Rodriguez began to illustrate how written words have many different meanings, and that this is one of the barriers that the Deaf face when trying to communicate with the hearing. I was also unaware of the different needs of the Deaf community, as the services they seek and prefer are not “one size fits all.” Some Deaf individuals want to read lips, some will only sign, some can hear with hearing aids, and still others want to commune exclusively with other Deaf people. The range of services needed is as unique as the individuals themselves. Mrs. Rodriguez’s presentation emphasized the desire among the Deaf to have a forum within their community where they can interact with one another, as is evidenced by the popularity of the Center’s programs. For example, at this past year’s Winter Wonderland Storytime, over 250 people came—and that was with minimal advance publicity. Tutoring, mentorship, and educational programs are in such demand that volunteers work seven days a week in outreach services. Some of the most interesting library programs and services we talked about were:

  • The special puppets that were made for children’s storytimes, which allowed for the puppeteers to sign
  • The popularity of programs teaching babies as young as 6 months old to use ASL successfully, before their ability to talk has developed
  • The flexibility with established rules that the library has shown in order to successfully adapt to the needs of the Deaf (relaxing the due date on a book to accommodate different reading speeds, but allowing only one book to be loaned at a time)
  • The Deaf Literacy Collection at the Safety Harbor Public Library, which holds over 2,000 items, including DVD movies with rich storylines that star an all Deaf cast

While Mrs. Rodriguez’s presentation was interesting and very informative, the most compelling part of the library visit was the special guests: three Deaf adults and one child who told their stories to us and illustrated how they are involved with the Center, how it has positively impacted their lives, and how they are now able to serve others in the community. It is one thing to read about libraries conducting outreach initiatives to underserved populations, but hearing the success stories firsthand was particularly moving. Mrs. Rodriguez stated that in order to make the Deaf Literacy Center successful, three things were needed: An open mind, a supportive library staff, and an accommodating administration. With this foundation in place, a public library can integrate its services and programs to be more inclusive.

A great big Thank You to Rosa Rodriguez and the volunteers at the Deaf Literacy Center for spending time with SOLIS and shedding light on the important work they do!

If you are interested in reading more about the Deaf Literacy Center of the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative, you can follow this link to their website:

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Brown Bags (They Aren’t What You May Think!)

Greetings! For those unfamiliar with Brown Bags, they are casual get-togethers that provide LIS students, alumni, and other professionals with a forum for connecting with one another and staying informed.  Interviews are live and available via Blackboard Elluminate.

Please feel free to offer suggestions on topics of discussion, questions, or potential interviewees. Use Facebook to post your responses or send messages. In the meantime, keep checking our page to see who will be our first guest for the 2012-2013 academic year.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Latoya Mozell, BB Chair

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ASIS&T 2011 Annual Conference with Brittany Deputy

Along with scholarships to attend the ALA Annual Conference and the FLA Annual Conference, SOLIS also gives out a conference scholarship to attend ASIS&T. ASIS&T, or the American Society For Information and Technology,is a leading organization for information science professionals in the US, helping bring the community together to share and grow. Brittany Deputy,the current student chapter President of ASIS&T at USF, received a SOLIS scholarship to attend their recent conference in New Orleans. She had the following to say about her experience:

In October of 2011, I was fortunate enough to be awarded the ASIST Conference Scholarship from the USF: School of Information. With those funds, I was able to travel to New Orleans, LA for the 2011 ASIST Annual Conference to learn and network with my peers not only as a student studying Library and Information Science but also as the ASIST USF Chapter President. At the conference I was introduced to information professionals of all kinds and was able to hear firsthand about cutting edge research in medical informatics, curricula bibliometrics and so many other inspiring feats. It was truly an experience in LIS professional development and study that I will not soon forget. Due to my participation in this conference, I have gained new skills and abilities not found in traditional higher education and I believe this new found knowledge will only increase my capability and marketability in my impending job search after graduation. It is experiences like mine at the 2011 ASIST Annual Conference that make students like myself more driven and focused toward careers in LIS and such experiences would be nearly impossible to have without the help of the ASIST Conference Scholarship Fund provided by donations from LIS professionals and USF alumni.

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ALA Annual Conference with Krystal Bullers

Krystal Bullers, a current student at USF was the recipient of the ALA Annual Conference scholarship. She attended the 2011 conference earlier this summer in New Orleans. She had an amazing time and had the following to say about the conference:

“Once a year the American Library Association holds “THE ANNUAL CONFERENCE” – a huge gathering of librarians from all types of libraries and at all stages of their career. I was lucky enough to win a scholarship to attend this year, something I could probably not otherwise have afforded. This year the conference was held in New Orleans making it a double treat since I have not visited the city prior to this.

This conference is huge. Gargantuan. Enormous. Conference attendees roamed the city clutching a program the size of a phone book (okay, a phone book for a smallish city, but still…). I had used the online interactive tool to identify the sessions I wanted to attend but as I thumbed through the satisfyingly substantial guide, I discovered programs and sessions I had overlooked. Deciding on which event from the number of options was very difficult; I ended up choosing sessions based on a combination of interests and sheer logistics. After the first day in which I attended sessions from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm without even a chance to eat, I also decided to be more discriminating in my choices.”

If you would like to read more, you can go to Krystal’s blog.

To see some of Krystal’s adventures at ALA, you can view the presentation she gave at a SOLIS Brown Bag!

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SLA Conference, Philadelphia, PA

Last May Margo Moore attended the Special Libraries Association Annual Conference in Philadelphia as the recipient of the School of Information/SOLIS Conference Scholarship.

Margo is a current student and the SLA student chapter vice-president. She was the recipient of one of the SOLIS conference scholarships; these conference scholarships are given to students in the program who are active participants in the student organization. The scholarship helped her go to the recent SLA Annual Conference which was held in Philadelphia by reimbursing her travel, hotel, and conference registration questions. She took the following video of the conference. Enjoy!

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