Students strike lightning at Super Conference 2013

Photo credit: Jesse Carliner

In the lightning round session at the 2013 Super Conference, five students from across Ontario presented 10-minute lightning talks on issues related to academic libraries. The audience cast ballots for their favourite presentation. This year, Wendy Traas won the competition and received the 2013 OCULA Student Award, an honorarium, and a complimentary OLA membership for one year.

During my first semester at the University of Toronto’s iSchool, an OCULA representative visited our classes to promote the Student Lightning Strikes Session at the 2012 OLA Super Conference. He encouraged us to develop ourselves professionally through conference participation. As a new Master of Information student I was completely intimidated by this idea, but added it to the list of things I wanted to accomplish while completing my degree. I was only slightly less intimidated a year later when I submitted a proposal for the 2013 Lightning Strikes Session.

I proposed an idea that I first explored in a paper for a course taught by Kim Silk on data librarianship. The idea was that data visualization activities can develop statistical and data literacy skills in students. Inspired by the compelling work done by investigative data journalists, I proposed that academic librarians use infographic activities to promote competencies such as locating data sets, critically assessing statistics, and visually displaying information.

I developed an interest in the details of teaching information literacy during a class with Sheril Hook on information literacy instruction. I realized that teaching these skills requires creativity, especially when instructors have such limited time with students.

Participating in the Lightning Strikes Session had many highlights for me, not the least of which was the opportunity to connect with people in OCULA and get a glimpse into the association. I was pleased to meet the other students from Western and Seneca, who were all so impressive and charming. Our combined nerves could have powered the entire event!

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to present as a student at the 2013 Super Conference, and I wholeheartedly encourage other students to do the same. I got a great deal out of it, including increased confidence. My nerves have been replaced with a sense of excitement about conference participation. In fact, I’m working my ideas into a poster for the upcoming OCULA Spring Conference. Come and say hello!

View all five 2013 Lightning Strikes presentations here:

Brittany Coulter, University of Western Ontario
Radical Reference and the Political Realm: The Future of Academic Librarianship

Elizabeth De Jong, University of Western Ontario
International Broadcasting: Fostering Diversity in the Academic Library

David Hum, Seneca College
How Academic Libraries Can Stay Relevant and Thrive

Wendy Traas, University of Toronto
Data Literacy: Using Information Visualizations to Promote Data and Statistical Literacy in the Classroom

Mark Weiler, University of Western Ontario
Academic Libraries at the Frontier of Government Information

Wendy Traas, OCULA 2013 Lightning Strikes winner and MI candidate, University of Toronto.