Dr. Anthony Chow

Director of the SJSU School of Information

Good evening.

My name is Anthony Chow, the Director of the School of Information at San Jose State.

First of all, to our graduates in the class of '22 and 2023, my hearty congratulations on your graduation and significant accomplishment, a milestone that you have achieved tonight. We're extremely proud of you. I also wanted to share that tonight reflects an iSchool first and significant moment in our history, our first-ever graduates with a Bachelor's in Information Science and Data Analytics. Congratulations to all of you.

The SJSU iSchool continues to be the largest and one of the most influential iSchools in the nation. We're projected to grow by 5% to 10% in the fall, and this year's class will move us to close to 12,000 graduates in 49 states nationally. The MLIS degree, over the past two years, we represented 30% of all of the nation's MLS candidates, and we're also number one in all racial categories, both in terms of total number of students as well as the total percentage of those students nationally. This includes 36% of all MLIS candidates that classify as Hispanic and Latino nationally. Quite an achievement.

To all our graduates tonight, 375 this semester and 758 for the entire academic year, we raise our glasses in celebration of you. Go forward and help people. Work hard and be successful in both your personal and professional lives. Never forget that you've joined close to 12,000 SJSU iSchool alumni worldwide, and we'll also always be here for you if you need us. And I'm sad to say I've got a coffee mug to salute you, so cheers to all of our graduates. Using your reactions icon, let's also give a loud virtual applause to all of our dedicated and passionate and committed faculty and staff who worked so hard as well to make tonight possible for us all. So thank you again for all of you, all the faculty and staff. Let's also do the same for your family and friends and all who supported you along the way. Thank you so much for supporting our students and making tonight such a success.

Tonight we're delighted to have an all-star lineup of speakers to share a few words of wisdom and congratulations with you, but before we do, let me share a few thoughts. This past month I have written articles and given talks on a number of information-related topics, including digital preservation and archives, advocacy and the future of libraries. Let me share a few highlights from each.

The iSchool is working on an IMLS grant with the Northern Cheyenne Tribe called "Seeking Immortality" where we are helping them record their language and select cultural artifacts. We visited with them a few weeks ago and one of their highest requests was simply to help record stories first and foremost, that every unrecorded lifetime experience that is lost through the passing of -- due to the passing of an elder is a significant loss to us all. Our long-term vision is to seek immortality for their native speakers and community leaders by taking full body scans of them and then using AI and chat bots to have virtual avatars that look and sound like them and can hold conversations with future generations hundreds of years from now. It is my belief that this will become a core service of libraries, the recording of stories and the use of AI to immortalize ourselves so our great-great grandchildren can meet us someday in the future long after we're gone. We must help others preserve today and the past for tomorrow.

From an advocacy standpoint, as both individuals and advocates for our own work and institutions, it all comes down to articulating our and your own worth within the context of organizational and societal goals. As Alan Inouye, American Library Association Senior Director of Public Policy and Government Relations said, when he said it, and where he said it best, that really advocacy is a professional responsibility for all of us and we cannot and should not leave it up to others. We effectively advocate in three primary ways, build long-term relationships with peers and decision-makers and their staff so there's a meaningful understanding of what is important to each other within our own personal and cultural context, and also so that disagreements on singular issues do not become relationship-breakers. Discussions and disagreements are held at a human level and define who we are and the immense diversity our nation represents. Always be respectful and polite in building and maintaining these relationships. Two, have multiple points of data on why what you do and what your organization does is value-added and has high return on investment. If you don't have the data to share with others, then you immediately lose credibility in the eyes of decision-makers. And three, gather and share stories of impact with a particular emphasis on patron and customer stories of satisfaction and success due to your service programs and resources.

Also, one final note, the majority of funding is local, and so if you ever wonder if you can rely on a state or national advocacy committee that represents you, the answer is no. Local funding typically is over 90% of funding, and so all of us must advocate for our own worth and what is important to us and how that is aligned to the organizational, societal, short and long-term best interest.

Finally, the libraries of the future. First, they'll be data-driven and community-centered. In our disrupted world, libraries are being used more often than ever due to the fact that digital access is increasing much more rapidly than print circulation is declining. Access to data, especially visualized data, is essential in helping us make informed decisions as real-time as possible. Also, decision-makers really like to see this type of data, and visualized data in particular. Second, however, is that no one should be taking the value of libraries and information for granted, as lack of support for libraries is usually not due to real opposition but, rather, that other services are in higher demand and are higher priority for future funding. Remember, relationships, data, and stories of impact. Third, libraries of the future are going to be even more high-tech than they already are. As hard-copy print materials continue to decline, the born digital data and job competencies that go with them will significantly increase the digital divide between the haves and have-nots. And finally, libraries will continue to
provide equal access to high-quality vetted and peer-reviewed resources, services, and programming. In the era of increased censorship and book banning, libraries serve as the freely accessible foundation for access to open information for everyone. We just now have many more diverse ways to do this.

As we celebrate all of you tonight, the field of information could not be more exciting and turbocharged. I hope you're excited about the endless world of possibilities your SJSU iSchool degree affords you. And my final advice to you for success in your career, and life in general, is to work extremely hard and be kind to others. You must give to get.

Thank you so much.