SILS graduates celebrate with words of praise and wisdom

Release date: 
May 18, 1998

CHAPEL HILL, NC — Nearly 100 graduates were honored May 17 at the SILS 66th commencement ceremony. Dean Barbara Moran welcomed the audience of more than 175 graduates, family members and friends, commenting on the many changes in the school during the two years since she had first welcomed these graduates as new students. During the graduates' tenure, the school established an undergraduate minor in Information Systems, celebrated its 65th anniversary, and welcomed Charles Viles, Greg Newby and Brian Sturm to the faculty ranks.

The special annual commencement ceremony honored 32 May 1998 graduates, as well as graduates from August and December 1997. In addition, the school recognized its first large class of 20 undergraduate minors.

"I've always thought that the information profession is the best field of all," Moran told the soon-to-be library and information professionals, commenting that they had earned their entry into the profession "through one of the best schools possible."

The dean, who returns to a life as a faculty member later this year, encouraged graduates to use their talents wisely, keep their sense of humor, cultivate their optimism and to remember their responsibility to their professional lives while at the same time establishing an identity separate from their work.

The president of the SILS Alumni Association, Lisa DiIorio-Smith, welcomed graduates into a long line of nearly 4,000 SILS alumni, describing the alumni association's role as a bridge between the school and the professional world. She likened the link to the role information professionals serve in connecting people to the information they seek.

Honors & Awards

The alumni association recognized two students for their outstanding service to the school. Deborah Balsamo was selected for her service as president of the Information and Library Science Student Association and Mark Koyanagi was honored for his work as an advocate and instructor in information technology within SILS and within UNC's School of Nursing.

Two students were selected for their outstanding work on masters theses produced in 1997: Nora Armstrong (Meeting and Managing the Winds of Change: the Armed Forces' Response to Executive Order 12958) and Kiduk Yang (Combining Multiple Document Representations and Multiple Relevance Feedback Methods to Improve Retrieval Performance).

Twenty-five students from the class of 1997 were nominated to Beta Phi Mu, an honorary society for students whose academic achievements place them in the top 25 percent of their class.

Nominated by his students, Dr. Jerry D. Saye received the SILS Outstanding Teaching award.

Keynote Speaker

The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Martin Dillon, a SILS faculty member from 1970-85, who now serves as Executive Director of the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) Institute in Dublin, Ohio. OCLC is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization whose computer network and services link more than 24,000 libraries in 63 countries and territories.

Dillon discussed the evolution of a new librarianship. "We are entering the age of networked information," he said, adding that the proof we live in an information economy can be found in the fact that the most lucrative businesses on the Internet are search services.

He pointed out three key opportunities that exist for library professionals in today's world: "Taming the Internet," educating library patrons and knowledge management.

The speaker noted the chaos that reigns on the Internet, concluding libraries and librarians must play a role in conquering the new environment, in turn ensuring that libraries take center stage on the Web. Library professionals also have a role in educating library patrons in the intricacies of using networked information, Dillon remarked, pointing out that the skills required for this new environment are drawn from the skill set of the professional librarian: evaluating, selecting, representing, and organizing information. The third opportunity Dillon recognized for graduates is knowledge management, a topic very much on the minds of those who head the nation's largest corporations. Knowledge management includes all of the activities that assure the knowledge base of a corporation is used properly, Dillon explained, predicting that the area is likely to become a highly specialized and highly paid profession for graduates.

"You are fortunate to be entering a profession that is at the forefront of a great and epochal revolution," Dillon told the graduates. "The next century will bring great challenges, but our profession will certainly rise to them and you will share in its triumph."

Following commencement, graduates celebrated with families and friends under Carolina Blue skies at a reception on the Manning Hall lawn.

The School of Information and Library Science is home to approximately 250 graduate students, 70 undergraduates and 19 full-time faculty members. It prepares students to work with computer information systems and networks or for careers in library administration, acquisitions, collections management and other aspects of library work. The school offers master's degrees in information science and library science, a certificate of advanced study, a doctor of philosophy in information and library science and an undergraduate minor in information systems.