The iSchool’s student chapter of the Special Libraries Association (SLA-UW) was honored with a Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Leadership for their initiative and success with the Capstone Networking event held November 5, 2013.
A capstone project is a degree requirement in the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program at the University of Washington Information School. Working alone or in teams, students manage the project’s development, tasks, schedules, and deliverables, then coordinate the hand off to the sponsoring organizations. The projects cover such areas as content and knowledge management, website design, application development, digital initiatives, data management or analysis, academic bibliographic instruction materials, program or service development, and collection development.
The student leaders of SLA-UW, in conversations with their fellow students across the program (both residential and online), noted a high degree of difficulty in locating projects and sponsors in the autumn of 2013. The group identified an opportunity to create an event that would help match students with necessary projects and sponsors. Using the “speed dating” metaphor, the group created a capstone networking event where potential sponsors would have a few minutes to “pitch” their projects to the students and student teams could “pitch” their teams for additional members.
As they planned the event, SLA-UW partnered with students in the Master of Information Management (MSIM) program, which also requires capstone projects, to create a combined event. The students secured the support of the school’s director of corporate and foundation relations, who contributed additional funding and outreach to organizational partners and invited iSchool faculty looking for students to explore research projects.
“I am extremely proud of these students," said Nancy Gershenfeld, senior lecturer and Capstone instructor. "While a number of people and groups all made this event a success, the idea came from the SLA-UW officers Sarai Dominguez and Anna Sgarlato. I tip my hat to them and especially Rachel Price and Laura Horan, who planned and ran the event.”
The Capstone Networking event, drew 30 representatives from 25 sponsoring organizations and approximately 60 students who attended in person. The event was also streamed online which enabled students not able to attend in person to view the pitches and communicate with sponsors.
As a result, students successfully connected with organizations such as Alaska Airlines and Expeditors International, and several teams formed on the spot and added members throughout the event.
“SLA’s student groups are the starting point for SLA’s future leaders,” said Janice Lachance, SLA’s chief executive officer about the award. “It is our goal to get them involved early and often so they can get on the fast track before they complete their library and information science programs.”
The Special Libraries Association (SLA) is a nonprofit international organization for innovative information professionals and their strategic partners. SLA serves information professionals in 68 countries in the information profession, including corporate, academic and government information specialists. SLA promotes and strengthens its members through learning, advocacy and networking initiatives.