The NISO Plus Scholarships are awarded every year to a group of early-career and emerging professionals who feel that their views are underrepresented in the information community. The scholarship program plays an important role in supporting NISO’s strategic goals, which include connecting diverse stakeholders and inspiring collaboration among them. This year, thanks to a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, we were able to bring our 2024 awardees (as well as a few alums) to Baltimore for our February 13–14 NISO Plus conference. Four members of the 2024 cohort recently agreed to share some thoughts on what they learned and experienced at the event.

Tianji Jiang, PhD Candidate, Department of Information Studies, UCLA

The NISO Plus Conference offered a fantastic opportunity for me to network with professionals and expand my knowledge about AI, open data, and metadata. My favorite track at the conference was the open data track, which closely fit with my research interests and ongoing projects. In all the sessions, experts from academic libraries, publishing houses, data repositories, and open data service providers shared their latest practices in making more data accessible and in making the availability of open data more trackable. They also discussed their visions for future efforts to further promote open data. In my previous work, most of my knowledge about issues relevant to open data came from academic papers and courses, where the knowledge was primarily generated by academic researchers. However, to build an ideal infrastructure for open data, the insights of other stakeholders in the data lifecycle are also very important.

During the NISO Plus Conference, I had the invaluable chance to listen to the voices of other stakeholders, including librarians, data curators, and publishing house editors, on this issue. Much of the content presented was new to me, providing valuable insights and thoughts that will be very beneficial to my future work. Among all the sessions, my favorite one is “Towards open-data sharing solutions in the humanities and social sciences.”

In addition, I met the other NISO Plus scholars and many other conference attendees from all around the world at the conference. With them, I broadened my perspective, heard various voices on topics related to information and data, and built invaluable friendships. We are looking forward to keeping our connection and building our community better.

Last but not least, I want to say thank you to all the conference organizers, presenters, and funders. Thank you so much for your tremendous efforts in creating such a wonderful conference. I am eagerly looking forward to meeting everyone again in Baltimore next year.

Vashalice Kaaba, School of Information, College of Communication & Information, Florida State University

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the NISO Plus conference, an experience that has profoundly enriched my perspective on information science. The event offered a comprehensive view of contemporary issues and advancements in our field, particularly the evolving role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the burgeoning realm of open scholarship. AI was showcased as a critical tool in revolutionizing the management and dissemination of information. The discussions were notably practical, grounding AI’s theoretical potential in tangible applications that enhance research efficiency and data accessibility. This exposure to AI’s diverse applications in our field underscored its indispensable role in shaping the future of information science.

A standout experience for me was the Open Scholarship track, especially the session titled “Towards Open Data Sharing Solutions in the Humanities and Social Sciences.” The insights offered by speakers such as Emma Molls, Erin Pollard, and Seth Russell were not only enlightening but also galvanizing. They portrayed open data as a mechanism for transparency and as a foundation for a more collaborative and inclusive research community. This session sparked several ideas about how open data principles can be integrated into my own work and the broader scholarly community.

Unexpectedly, one of the most rewarding aspects of the conference was the informal networking opportunities. Engaging with my cohort and fellow librarians over meals at Philips Seafood and prolonged coffee breaks (totally debating coffee-to-creamer ratio and its implications in AI during the conference!) provided invaluable exchanges of experiences and advice, leading to professional connections that continue to be a source of inspiration and support. Returning to my organization, these experiences have opened a plethora of possibilities. Applying AI and open research principles could significantly enhance our approach to library services, particularly in the effective and responsible use of user data. Equipped with these new insights and perspectives, I am better positioned to lead initiatives that are in tune with these progressive trends in our field.

Emory LaPrade, Cataloging and Metadata Librarian, Johnson City Public Library

This year’s NISO Plus conference was my first—and hopefully not my last! I can genuinely say that the connections I made with other attendees—especially my fellow scholarship awardees—were one of the many highlights of the experience. There are so many positively brilliant people who are working toward a brighter future and I feel very lucky to have met them.

One of the challenges that came to the forefront of my mind in attending the sessions on AI and open access metadata was scalability. I come from a more-rural-than-not consortium in east Tennessee, and many of the topics discussed were things I knew more about from my recent graduate degree than hands-on experience with them. My biggest worry is that, for places that struggle to get funding, where does that leave us in the information environment? How do we keep rural libraries and their communities from falling behind and further into the digital divide? I hope to do my part by sharing the things I learned about AI and open access metadata with my consortium’s cataloging committee next month.

Choosing only one session as my favorite is difficult, so I’m going with two: “Opening the Door: Inviting Critique and Bringing Indigenization to Expand Metadata Systems and Practices” inspired me to look at my own institution and begin drafting a land acknowledgement with leadership; “Perspectives on the Metadata Landscape” is what made me realize how much potential my consortium has to grow. There were times I wished there were two of me so I could attend more than one session at the same time!

Ultimately, I don’t believe I have adequate words to sum up this experience. I am so grateful for the opportunity, and to be able to continue to learn in webinars throughout the year is incredibly exciting. Thanks to all of the wonderful humans who made my attendance possible!

Mohamad Mostafa, Regional Engagement Specialist: Middle East and Asia, DataCite

Attending the NISO Plus 2024 Conference was a unique experience for me. The diverse conference tracks offered plenty of interesting topics and discussions. One track that particularly stood out to me was open scholarship, which delved into issues of equitable access, amplifying global scholarly voices, the infrastructure for open access books, and engaging discussions on the future of open science. As a panelist in one of its sessions, I had the opportunity to contribute to these important conversations. Additionally, I gained valuable insights from sessions on AI/machine learning and metadata, which provided a deeper understanding of emerging technologies and their impact. Among the many sessions, the opening keynote by Thomas Padilla on the state of Open AI was particularly impressive. It shed light on the value of open-source software, the challenges posed by proprietary content, and the complexities surrounding the definition of “open.” Furthermore, the session on the future of metadata emphasized the critical role of rich metadata in information retrieval and highlighted its significance for end-users.

NISO Plus also facilitated meaningful connections with stakeholders from various sectors, including publishers, librarians, service providers, and funders. One highlight was collaborating with five speakers from different countries on a proceedings paper based on our session about open scholarship and bibliodiversity. This collaborative effort exemplifies the spirit of networking and collaboration fostered by NISO Plus.

Being awarded the NISO Plus Scholarship Program was a great honor for me, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the NISO community. The conference was a valuable learning experience, and I look forward to contributing to the growth and advancement of this vibrant community. Shukran (thank you), NISO!


We are delighted to hear that the scholarship winners made so many connections with other attendees, and that the conference yielded takeaways that they can apply back home on the job. But we also want to emphasize how grateful we are to them for enriching the conference experience for all who attended. NISO Plus better serves the information community when diverse stakeholders can participate, and the meeting discussions benefited from the awardees’ individual perspectives, whether as students or as professionals from smaller public libraries or organizations based outside the US. We look forward to working with Tianji, Vashalice, Emory, and Mohamad in the coming months as we continue to build community and ensure that our work has the broadest possible impact.

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