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SOIS Provides Travel Funding to Help Students Broaden Their Experience

Suppose you wanted to attend or present your work at that great out-of-state conference, but funds are short. You’re a student, after all, and traveling costs money. Hotels cost money. Even conference registration costs money. SOIS and the UWM Graduate School want to make sure you’re not out of luck.

In the Spring 2011 semester, SOIS provided seven students—Alexis Logsdon, Kali Davis, Amanda Burns, Judy Jones, Cletus D. Kuunifaa, Marilyn Manross and Percy Wise—with travel awards to attend professional conferences. Logsdon, Burns, Jones and Kuunifaa received additional travel awards from the Graduate School. In addition, SOIS also provided two doctoral students, Jihee Beak and Chunsheng Huang, with travel awards to attend conferences.

Alexis Logsdon
•  Logsdon presented her paper “The Archives in the Library: Preserving GLBT Periodicals While Providing Access” at the third annual Archives, Libraries, Museums & Special Collections (ALMS) 2011 International LGBT Conference at UCLA in West Hollywood from April 12–15.

Marilyn Manroos
•  Manross attended the Special Libraries Association (SLA) in Philadelphia from June 12–15.

Amanda Burns & Judy Jones
•  Burns and Jones presented their paper “Multicultural Children’s Literature from Theory to Practice” at the Diversity 2011 Conference held in Cape Town, South Africa from June 20–22.

Kali Davis & Percy Wise
•  Davis and Wise attended the ALA conference in New Orleans from June 23–28.

Cletus Kuunifaa, Jihee Beak & Chungsheng Huang
•  Kuunifaa, Beak, and Huang all presented papers at the World Library & Information Congress: 77th IFLA General Conference & Assembly held in San Juan, Puerto Rico from August 13–18. Kuunifaa presented his paper “Access to Information: An Index for Transparency in Ghanaian Governance vis-à-vis the Jamaican Experience”. Beak presented her paper "Comparison of Metadata Schemas: AACR2+ vs ICDL's Metadata Schema". Huang presented a report on a survey of the international activities of national library associations.

Travel Funding - Where to Start

Although the students discovered travel funding opportunities in various ways, they agreed that the application processes was relatively simple.

“Each funding source required you to fill out an application form,” Burns said. “These forms had to include where you were going, why you were going, if you were presenting, what you were presenting, who you were presenting with and when you planned to travel. For the SOIS Travel Award you have to do a short reason statement about why attending this conference will benefit you.”

In addition, the SOIS form requires that students agree to either write a blog entry for each day that they attend the conference or present on the experience after their return. Student blog entries are posted at

SOIS Travel Awards are intended to assist BSIST and MLIS students whose poster or paper proposals have been accepted by a conference or meeting of an accredited, nationally-recognized professional or academic organization. Student Travel Awards are also available for students who simply wish to attend a SOIS-approved professional conference. SOIS evaluates other travel fund requests on a case-by-case basis.

Funding amounts are based on destination (domestic vs. foreign, major “hub city” or otherwise) and are provided as reimbursements. For presenters, this may include airfare, board and lodging, meals, ground transportation, conference registration and poster printing costs. SOIS will notify applicants of acceptance within 10 days.

UWM Graduate School travel funding has a separate set of criteria that can be found here:

Burns, who was awarded both SOIS and Graduate School funding, credited SOIS with advising her on using both awards to her advantage.  

“Once I found out that I had received funding from both SOIS and the Graduate School, it was a matter of figuring out how to make them work for me,” she said. “I made an appointment with Laura Meyer in the SOIS office to discuss this with her. Laura and I used all my receipts—you must keep them all—to fill out the paperwork and turn it in. It was a smooth and easy process.”

Getting a jump on conference experience can be a boon to students, Burns said.  

“As an academic librarian, it is expected that you will do presentations and get published,” she said. “This conference [Diversity 2011] gave me the opportunity to do both, although I am still waiting to hear if they are publishing my paper.”

Burns and Jones were part of a panel presentation on theory and practice in multicultural literature for children and young adults, a topic they studied with SOIS Associate Professor Laretta Henderson.  

“Discussion by panel members included an overview of the class, an overview of SOIS and recruitment of diverse students, critical race theory, selection criteria and resources, and representation of body image in children’s and young adult materials,” Jones said. “Our session was 90 minutes, we had a very small audience and, instead of a traditional presentation, we had a more intimate discussion in the round seating with the audience.”

Davis, who attended the ALA Conference in New Orleans, notes that simply attending a conference has its benefits, particularly to those students not accustomed to interacting with their peers.  

“As a distance education student, I am not able to have the in-person interaction with my professors and peers as I would in a traditional classroom setting,” Davis said. “I saw this as an opportunity to meet some of my fellow students, UWM SOIS faculty and administrators, and participate in-person in a setting that complimented my schooling.” In addition, Davis was able to meet with SOIS Adjunct Instructor Tomas Lipinski, who taught her Legal Issues for Library and Information Managers class, and her classmates to attend a number of ALA discussions and lectures that were complementary to the class content.

Conferences can also be ideal places to network, as Manross discovered when she met another attendee of the SLA Convention.  

“It turned out that his background and job is in financial services (my last long-term job),” she wrote in her SOIS blog. “As the sole librarian at an East Coast hedge fund, he manages their resources and research. And, hearing of my job search, after we ate, he walked me over to a recruiter he knew who was there as an exhibitor. She asked for my resume and, yes, I had one with me!”

Kuunifaa, who attended the IFLA conference, has additional reason to be excited.

“It is humbling to have a proposal accepted first of all at this level, given the strong competition from other participants,” he said. “And second, it is even more encouraging that this paper won the IFLA-LIS 2011 Student Paper Award.”

Beak, who also attended the IFLA conference, is thankful to SOIS for the support she received.

“Presenting at the IFLA conference was a great experience. Not only did SOIS support expenses, but also many faculty members helped me in submitting my paper and preparing my presentation. SOIS encourages doctoral students to do more academic activities and to expand their knowledge and human networks. ”

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