Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University


Library and Information Science (LIS) education has been offered at Charles Sturt University and its predecessor institutions since 1975. The School of Information Studies is itself over 30 years old, and is now the only school amongst Australian universities devoted to Library and Information Science education and research. Its 'headquarters' is Building 5 on the Charles Sturt University's Wagga Wagga campus, about 400 km south-west of Sydney, NSW.

The School currently has around 2,000 students enrolled in the Bachelors and Masters of Information Studies, the Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) and other specialist courses. It also has fifteen full-time academic staff, teaching and researching in a wide range of LIS subfields, many adjunct and sessional staff, and a large cohort of PhD students.

A new lecturer joins SIS

Louise Curham is finalising the examination of her PhD through the University of Canberra where she is a member of the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research. Louise is a graduate of CSU’s AV archiving course (2005) and holds a Graduate Diploma in Science (Information Services, specialisation in archives and records) from Edith Cowan University (2012). Louise was the Australian Society of Archivists’ Margaret Jennings Award recipient (2013). She has a Master of Fine Arts (research) from UNSW Art and Design (2004) and a Bachelor of Film and Television from the VCA School of Film and Television (1994).
Louise worked at the National Archives of Australia in audiovisual preservation (2002-7) and in government information management (2009-2019). She was the records manager and archivist at the Australian National Maritime Museum from 2007-9. Louise has conducted significance assessments on small arts collections in Sydney and worked with those community collections in pro bono relationships. Louise’s research focuses on heritage that cannot be kept adequately through digitisation and recording. Her PhD research used a case of live art from the 1970s. This draws on her media art practice using obsolete media and technology as well as her experience as an archives practitioner. Louise’s media art is shown nationally and internationally and her film works are in the national film collections of Australia and New Zealand. Those themes of old media and archives inform Louise’s work with hand-made, hand-processed and obsolete motion picture film and her collaboration in Teaching and Learning Cinema with Dr Lucas Ihlein.

RAILS19 issue of JALIA

A special issue of the Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association (JALIA) that showcases some of the papers presented at the RAILS conference hosted by the School last year has been published online. The Fifteenth Australasian Conference on Research Applications in Information and Library Studies took place on 28th and 29th October 2019, at St Mark’s National Theological Centre in Canberra. The eight RAILS papers featured in the special JALIA issue connect to the conference theme of ‘Towards critical information research, education and practice’ in a variety of ways. Two of the papers are co-authored by SIS academics, while the remainder are from researchers based in various institutions, including some outside of Australia.

Master of Information Studies student awarded the 2020 Loris Williams Memorial Scholarship

The School of Information Studies would like to congratulate our current Master of Information Studies student Robyn Garcia on being awarded the Australian Society of Archivists’ Loris Williams Memorial Scholarship for 2020. Robyn is a proud Noongar woman, working in the AIATSIS Family History Unit. Robyn said to the ASA when receiving her scholarship "Being awarded the Loris Williams Scholarship for 2020 came as a very unexpected but welcomed surprise. Over the next 12 months I look forward to building networks in the industry, gaining a better understanding of the practical application of information management from my mentors to compliment my tertiary study, and hearing about the challenges and experiences that my mentors have faced whilst working in this field. Similar to Loris, I am passionate about the work that I do as part of the AIATSIS Family History Unit. On a daily basis, I see the powerful and emotional impacts of discovering and accessing archived records, and I have the privilege of being able to share this journey with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I look forward to building on the work of other people like Loris, and I hope that I will be able to positively contribute to this area in the coming years. I believe the records management training and experience I gained in previous employment with the RAN and RAAF provide a good base to build on, and my previous studies in psychology will help me to understand client perspectives and thought processes that I can utilise to build better collections and improve related policies and procedures."

Waseem Afzal awarded ASIS&T grant

Dr Waseem Afzal’s research proposal Mapping the COVID-19 Information Flows in Asia-Pacific: Towards creating an ASIS&T International Information Source has been funded by the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) under ‘chapter development fund’. The aim of this project is to map information flows about COVID-19 in some of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region and to create an Information Source on COVID-19. This work will enable ASIS&T Asia-Pacific Chapter to engage researchers in the AP region to analyse the COVID-19 information environment and to identify some of the pressing information problems concerning this global pandemic.

New book on Open Access by Dr Simon Wakeling published by Routledge

A new book by SIS lecturer Dr Simon Wakeling has been published by Routledge. Dr Wakeling worked with co-authors Professor Stephen Pinfield (University of Sheffield), and Professor David Bawden and Lyn Robinson (City, University of London) to write Open Access in Theory and Practice: The Theory-Practice Relationship and Openness. Available in open access form, it is the first title in the new Routledge series Critical Studies on Open Access.

The book investigates the theory-practice relationship in the domain of open access publication and dissemination of research outputs. Drawing on detailed analysis of the literature and current practice in OA, as well as data collected in interviews with practitioners, policymakers, and researchers, the book discusses what constitutes ‘theory’, and how the role of theory is perceived by both theorists and practitioners. Exploring the ways theory and practice have interacted in the development of OA, the authors examine what this reveals about the nature of the OA phenomenon itself and the theory-practice relationship.

Open Access in Theory and Practice: The Theory-Practice

COVID-19 Research Grant awarded to team including six SIS staff

Eight members of the Libraries Research Group have been awarded an internal research grant to explore the public library response to the COVID-19 crisis. Drs Jane Garner, Simon Wakeling, Hamid Jamali, Yazdan Mansourian, Jessie Lymn, Holly Randall-Moon and Professor Philip Hider are undertaking a national survey of all public library services to gain an understanding of how these libraries have adapted their work in response to the compulsory closures of their physical sites due to COVID-19 restrictions. Supported by the Australian Library and Information Association and the Australian Public Library Alliance, the research also seeks to understand the challenges faced by public libraries as they responded to these closures. A second phase of the research will include a few in-depth case studies. The goal of the project is to explore the role of public libraries in their communities during a national crisis, and to assist public libraries in their preparedness for future events of this nature

Associate Professor Mary Anne Kennan Retired

Associate Professor Mary Anne Kennan retired on 15 May 2020. Mary Anne joined the School of Information Studies in June 2009. She has had many roles within the School and the university including serving as Associate Head of School for four years and Acting Head of School for several extended periods. Mary Anne was involved in teaching and developing the curriculum in several ways, for example proposing and co-writing an introductory subject for the master’s program and researching and the co-developing the curriculum for the data management specialisation and graduate certificate. Enjoying research and the collaborations associated with it, Mary Anne hopes to continue to be engaged with it in some ways including remaining for a while as the Editor of the Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association (JALIA).  She will remain engaged with the School as an Adjunct Associate Professor.

Associate Professor Mary Anne Kennan

Virtual Study Visit program underway

The School of Information Studies visits cities across Australia and internationally with groups of 20-60 students to tour a selection of information agencies. These Study Visits form a core part of our workplace learning program, and offer our students valuable opportunities to see the diversity of information work, and develop peer and professional networks. The School has responded creatively to the current challenges of COVID-19 by moving our unique and significant program of yearly Study Visits into a virtual space.

Our current Virtual Study Visit program has over 100 students attending a selection of eight online sessions with established information professionals, who are giving insight into their current roles and their career journeys. Speakers include librarians and archivists from the academic, health, public, museum and school library sectors, talking about career development, technology, current issues facing their sector and also the impact of COVID-19 on their work. We look forward to further developing our virtual study visit programs and also returning to our face-to-face visits when possible.

Virtual Study Visit Program

ALIA Scholarship Winner

Congratulations to Claire Sadler, this year’s winner of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scholarship sponsored by the Australian Library and Information Association. Claire has just started her Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) degree, and is excited about receiving this award. She says that she hopes to be a positive role model for the Indigenous students that she may end up teaching, and plans to use some of the award to purchase a new laptop as well as to support herself during the work placement element of the course.

Libraries Research Group's website launched

The Libraries Research Group has launched its website, which includes a list of projects its members are presently undertaking, and various other details. The Group received $20,000 of internal grant funds last year and has identified two overarching themes for its work over the next three years: the ‘value of libraries’ and ‘making collections more visible’.

Congratulations Dr Helen Reid

The School and supervisors Associate Professor Mary Anne Kennan, Dr Bob Pymm and Professor Annemaree Lloyd congratulate Dr Helen Reid who graduated in December 2019 with her PhD titled “Learning on the Job: Librarians Keeping Up to Date with Emerging Technologies”. Helen’s research explores the practice of workplace learning about emerging technologies in academic libraries using an action research method and a practice theoretical approach. Results demonstrate that lack of time and opportunities to share and build knowledge constrain learning. Allocation of time, management support and common understandings about learning and technology enable it.

Dr Helen Reid

Dr Helen Reid, Dr Mary Anne Kennan and Dr Bob Pymm after the graduation ceremony.

Outstanding Journal Reviewers

PhD student Bec Muir has received an Outstanding Reviewer Award for her contribution to the International Journal of Information, Diversity, and Inclusion in 2019, while Prof Philip Hider has received one for his contribution to The Indexer. Philip has reviewed manuscripts for a range of Library and Information Science journals over the years, and enjoys contributing to the scholarly process in this way, but this is the first such award he’s received!

METL graduate awarded 2019 Jean Arnot Fellowship

The 2019 Jean Arnot Memorial Fellowship from the State Library of NSW was awarded to Josephine Laretive, a recently graduated student of the Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship). The fellowship is named in honour of the late Jean Fleming Arnot, MBE, FLAA, a former staff member of the State Library of New South Wales. The fellowship is awarded to a female librarian or student of librarianship for an outstanding paper of no more than 5000 words on any aspect of librarianship. The paper submitted was titled 'Information literacy, young learners and the role of the teacher librarian' and was awarded at the Jean Arnot Memorial Luncheon at NSW Parliament House. Josephine commented: ‘Commitment to learning and completion of the Master of Education Teacher Librarianship at Charles Sturt University has provided me with strength and direction to adapt and allowed me to enhance my commitment as a teacher librarian. I look forward to what is ahead.’

award photo of Josephine Laretive

Josephine Laretive (R), with her mother.

Waseem Afzal awarded Defence grant

Waseem Afzal

The School of Information Studies congratulates Dr Waseem Afzal who has won a research grant funded by the Australian Department of Defence. The research project “Understanding the role of properties of information in shaping violent extremism: Enhancing the cognitive base of the Army’s Intellectual Capital” will examine (1) the role that different properties of information play in shaping extremist content, (2) will identify generalizable information strategies underlying different extremist groups’ propaganda, and (3) will propose information strategies to counter extremist information warfare.  We look forward to reading about the results!

RAILS 2019 a resounding success

The Australasian Conference on Research Applications in Information and Library Studies (RAILS) was duly hosted by SIS on 28-29 October at CSU’s campus in Canberra. The conference theme, “Towards critical information research, education and practice”, was picked up in a wide range of ways by presenters. Sixty participants from eight countries attended; there were 39 papers (six presented by SIS staff and students), three posters, three keynotes and one panel. RAILS 2020 will be hosted by Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand.

Participants in RAILS listen to a speakerA presenter at the podium at RAILS

Above - Welcome reception and Keynote Speaker Mike Jones at RAILS 2019.

Libraries Research Group established

The Faculty of Arts and Education at CSU has formed a Libraries Research Group, to build on the University’s strengths in the field of Library and Information Science. Nine of its twelve foundation members are academics from the School of Information Studies. The group will focus on the ways in which library and information services can be improved, and library collections enhanced, as well as the role of libraries and librarianship in contemporary society. Aligned with the University’s Research Narrative of developing flourishing communities, the Libraries Research Group will address priority issues for libraries and their managers, helping to ensure that library services meet the needs of the communities they serve and contribute to a better informed, and more information literate, citizenry. The Group has been awarded $20,000 of start-up funding from the Faculty and held its first meeting on 27 September by videoconference.

The six members of the group in attendance in Wagga are pictured .

Drs Mansourian, Jamali, Lymn, Hider, Afzal and Wakeling

(L-R: Drs Mansourian, Jamali, Lymn, Hider, Afzal and Wakeling).

Cited as Field Leader for Australia in the field of Library and Information Science

Dr Hamid Jamali of the School of Information Studies was cited as field leader for Australia in the field of Library and Information Science based on Google Scholar data in the list of Australia’s top researchers 2019, published in the Australian Higher Education Supplement of the 25 September 2019. The table of results can be found within the following article which notes that Professor Sharynne McLeod, also of CSU is world leader in her field of audiology

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