Two GSLIS alumni named ‘Movers and Shakers’

Library Journal has released their annual list of Movers and Shakers for 2012 and included among those honored are two GSLIS alumni, Michelle Chronister (MS ’09) and Joshua Finnell (MS ’07).

Chronister is a program analyst with the U.S. General Services Administration responsible for the social media program on She is being recognized for her work to increase the interaction between the government and citizens who post on Facebook and Twitter.

An excerpt from the Library Journal article:

When Michelle Chronister began working for the federal government as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2009, didn’t respond to questions that citizens posted on its Facebook and Twitter pages.

Chronister, a program analyst, thought that the public deserved those answers, especially since the agency responded to email and phone queries. She proposed a change.

Now Chronister helps manage content for, the federal government’s web portal, updating, organizing, and testing content to ensure it’s accessible and useful.

The new approach began in January 2010 with Chronister answering questions on Twitter and Facebook. As a result, the social media program has grown exponentially, says Sarah Crane, director of,, and “We’ve been thrilled with the results,” Crane says.

Finnell is the humanities librarian at Denison University in Ohio and is a visiting lecturer in the School and Media Library Certification Program at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. In 2010, Finnell also earned the Special Collections Certificate from the Midwest Book and Manuscript Studies program administered by GSLIS, the University of Illinois Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Soybean Press.

An excerpt from the Library Journal article:

Humanities librarian Joshua Finnell has been described by faculty members at Denison University as the serious scholar’s best friend because he helps students and instructors take their research to a higher level. His skills with people, technology, and research garnered him 17 nominations for Movers & Shakers. “I meet the students where they are,” Finnell says.

Finnell works patiently with the most challenged students to overcome obstacles and pushes the most talented to make “crucial connections” through research, says Susan Kanter, assistant director of Denison’s Writing Center.

Finnell’s approach is summed up by his website title—Thoughtful Generalist. He’s knowledgeable and skilled in many fields. Besides contributing to academic literature in his own disciplines of library science and philosophy, he has published on topics including the ethics of medical research.

Finnell also played a major role in reviving McNeese State University’s School of Library Science Certification in Louisiana following Hurricane Rita. He worked to transform the formerly face-to-face program to be delivered online, resulting in 100 students and 30 graduates, says Debbie Johnson-Houston, library director at McNeese State, where Finnell is a visiting lecturer.

Mark Moller, chair of Denison’s philosophy department, describes Finnell as a natural teacher. “Many of us reach out to Josh because we trust what he does,” says Moller.


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