Sunday, 20 March 2016




The past two days have gone by in a blur at the iSchool! The 2016 iSchool Student Conference took place from Friday, March 18 to Saturday March 19, the 8th annual edition of this exciting event. This year's theme was "Defying Conventions: Innovative Perspectives in the Information Field," and the Conference attracted not only stellar presentations but also a fantastic turnout of students, faculty, and members of the public.

I will be adopting Cady McLaughlin's 2015 format in her reflections on the Conference last year (in the hopes of establishing a Musings tradition) and give you a Top 10 "In Case You Missed It" list about the 2016 Conference below, with a special focus on MMSt students.

1. Musings' editorial team was well-represented at the Conference on both days. Well done Emily, Annissa, Leah, Anya, Orvis, Rowena, and Kate! I also presented as part of a workshop.

Anya in action. Photo Credit: Madeline Smolarz

2. A number of MMSt students participated in the lunch time poster session on Day 2, presenting their fascinating research on topics ranging from protecting historically significant sites from destruction during war to studying ancient mystery religions.

Sometimes research involves Play-Doh, as Annissa demonstrated with her poster. Photo Credit: Madeline Smolarz

3. There were four types of presentations: panels, lightning talks, workshops, and round tables.

So much to do, so little time! Photo Credit: Madeline Smolarz

4. A member of the MMSt faculty, sessional instructor Hooley McLaughlin, joined 3 other iSchool professors in a lively talk about education in the information field. I still think someone should have taped this raucous conversation!

Professors McLaughlin, Grimes, Furness, and Stevens with moderator Chris. Photo Credit: Madeline Smolarz

5. I was pleasantly surprised by the presence of knitters in the audience, which I think created a soothing effect for nervous presenters. At one point, the needles of two students and iSchool Dean Wendy Duff herself could be seen turning yarn into beautiful knit creations.

Working on a pair of mittens. Photo Credit: Madeline Smolarz

6. Contributing editor Leah Moncada showed us how Musings articles can serve as curated exhibitions. If you're interested, do get in touch with her to learn more about how her work on the Historic Kitchen column has migrated to another site and might even get her published.

She even made us a sallat from the 17th century to try! Photo Credit: Madeline Smolarz

7. The Conference reception was held at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, which was the perfect visually stunning setting to unwind and enjoy some scrumptious food after a busy day.

The majestic stacks of the Thomas Fisher. Photo Credit: Madeline Smolarz.

8. ...Speaking of food, look at this breakfast spread that was provided in the morning of Day 2! Along with the ever-present complimentary coffee and tea, the Conference committee made sure everyone was taken care of.

Just a small part of Saturday's breakfast. Photo Credit: Madeline Smolarz

9. MMSt assistant professor Dr. Cara Krmpotich introduced the Keynote Speaker, Ronald Niezen, who is the Canada Research Chair in the Comparative Study of Indigenous Rights and Identity. She also bravely started off the Q & A following his powerful talk. Niezen spoke about the role of information in its many forms during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's work.

Conference attendees gathered for Ronald Niezen's keynote speech. Photo Credit: Madeline Smolarz

10. Overall, 52% of the presentations were delivered by MMSt students. In terms of numbers, we are a small part of the iSchool community, but we are no less mighty because of it. We proved ourselves to be a powerful force, capable of defying conventions at every turn!

Rowena delivered her enlightening Lightning Talk to a packed room. Photo Credit: Madeline Smolarz

Thank you to everyone who came out and supported MMSt students at the Conference (a special shoutout to my dear parents and aunt who drove 2 hours in traffic to come to my workshop). Everyone who presented should be proud of their accomplishments. Congratulations are also in order for the wonderful Conference organizers -- next year's committee has their work cut out for them.

For updates about next year's Conference, please like the Facebook page and follow on Twitter.

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