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Bill Helling, Library and Information Science faculty, stands in front of the Gulf of Finland in Helsinki

Fulbright scholar William Helling takes Library and Information Science international

December 20, 2019

School of Informatics and Computing faculty William “Bill” Helling is a true polyglot, speaking some level of four languages in addition to his native English, and is also fully conversant in using technology to create and develop international community in Library and Information Science (LIS). In January 2020, the second-time Fulbright scholar will be heading back to Haaga-Helia University in Helsinki, Finland to further develop instructional methods, materials, and content, while conducting a class simultaneously across both campuses.

Helling first visited Haaga-Helia in 2013 when he received his first Fulbright scholarship. There he taught on improving business services with information technology, and developed an asynchronous online course at IUPUI that he combined with a face-to-face class in Finland. He says that conducting one class across two campuses was beneficial for all students because of the exchange of ideas and perceptions. “This was an opportunity for American students to work with different cultures on common concerns; Haaga-Helia students profited likewise because of their interactions with American students,” Helling says.

On this trip, he will build on the connections he made in 2013 and expand his relationships with faculty and staff there and elsewhere in Finland. He will also lay the groundwork for the Finland Study Abroad program that he and Andrea Copeland, the chair of the LIS Department, hope to initiate in the next couple of years.

“For the Department of Library and Information Science, international interaction is difficult to achieve but necessary to keep this discipline truly global, so that it addresses the needs of worldwide users.”

Helling began his lengthy career at the University of Kansas teaching college-level foreign language, having earned a Ph.D in French, but found himself returning to school to earn an MIS degree at Indiana University. He then worked for IDG books and as a public librarian before becoming an adjunct instructor at IU Bloomington and IUPUI. His interest in instructional technology and his professional experience eventually led to his current full-time position in the Department of Library and Information Science.

His study of French, German, Spanish, and Finnish, and his multiple travels abroad have served Helling in dealing with information architecture as he examines how to accommodate the international user experience on websites and the labels, both textual and iconic, that are used to convey information to web users. For example, Europeans often study and understand British English as opposed to American English, which can lead to confusion if not taken into account, as so much web content is created by native speakers from the U.S.

“My international experiences have helped me understand my need for cultural sensitivity as well as the need to take responsibly my role as a cultural ambassador.”

Helling has published and presented on a variety of topics, such as film interpretations of literature and French 19th-century exploration of Australia, and has much experience in library system software, including compatibility with RFID and integration with eBooks and similar third-party services. He is also an expert in digitization of library historical resources as well as website usability and accessibility.

“Dr. Helling’s work in cross-cultural education is just one of the many ways that our department benefits from his unique set of expertise and lived experiences. The LIS community is excited for him and can’t wait to see what comes next,” Copeland says.

About the Fulbright Scholar Program

The Fulbright Scholar Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by then-Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and awards approximately 8,000 grants annually.

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