SLIS can land you more than a librarian job

Nick Boone

The School of Library and Information Science, or SLIS, at Kent State sets students up with jobs necessary for the future.

The Master of Science in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management (IAKM) degree is available only for graduate students, but it is made up of three concentrations including Health Informatics, Knowledge Management and User Experience Design.

Health Informatics

Students in Health Informatics study the interaction between people and information. This area works with health information and how it is captured, transmitted and utilized, said Rebecca Meehan, assistant professor of library and information science.  Students work in many domains and applications that can support health information.

“We really try to give a broad understanding of health information management, health information systems and knowledge organization structures,” Meehan said.

Students in this area will go on to work alongside doctors, patients and software companies, trying to find the best way to capture the information and share it with those who need it efficiently, quickly and accurately, she said.

“Once you have the technology be it, electronic health record,” Meehan said.  “What are ways that we need to improve upon that to make it more useable?  Is it easy to use?  Is it intuitive? Does it meet your needs?”

Some jobs that come out of this area include information science positions in the health field, clinical decision and support teams and even chief information officers in companies.

“I think that these jobs are becoming more and more important because we rely much more upon electronic health data,” Meehan said.

In turn, they need to understand how to manage the data and make it easy to use, as well as making it reliable and helpful for those who need the data.

“What we are trying to do, at Kent State, is really emphasize the core principles and core foundational elements that will help you guide information science into the future,” Meehan said.

Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management focuses on analyzing data and making it useful, said Athena Salaba, associate professor and associate director at SLIS.

Students in this area work on data analytics, such as recording data and knowledge and organizing the data so it is useful and meaningful. They also work on organizing information so it can be retrieved later and study how audiences interact with information and find ways to tailor the information to those who need it.

She said people in this field can work at museums, organizing the archives— they also organize the information so those visiting the museum can access it quickly and efficiently. People can also land jobs in community libraries, but not as the typical librarian, Salaba said.

They will organize documents, data, events and other information so the community can use it effectively.  They want to preserve the information so others can get to it in the future and understand it.

“Libraries have changed quite a bit on what they do anymore, they used to be a place where they collect books,” Salaba said.  “Now they have a much bigger role in the community.”

These jobs are important because of the power knowledge has.

“Empower people with knowledge, but also with knowing how to use the information to achieve the goals they have,” Salaba said when describing the main goal of this program.  “If you know what the information is and how to use it, I think that is very powerful.”


User Experience Design

User Experience Design deals with research about user interface and design programs, said Paul Sherman, assistant professor at SLIS.

Students are taught to conduct user experience research and to look at the findings and create a user interface that is user friendly.

Sherman said that students are given the tools to approach problems and solve them.  For example, when there is trouble with websites, people in this field will look at the way people interact with the website and improve it.

Graduates of this program can land jobs in many different areas such as product management, software developers and business analysis, Sherman said.

“There is a lot more interfaces, a lot more computers and a lot more mobile devices and we depend a lot more on the applications and programs,” Sherman said when describing why this field is important.  “Also, the bar has been raised by really great consumer level hardware and software.”

Contact Nick Boone at [email protected].