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Graduate School of Library and Information Science - University of Illinois


Get to know Soraya Silverman-Montano (MS '11), youth librarian & NLA president

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 15:42:10 +0000

iSchool alumna Soraya Silverman-Montano (MS '11) is the 2018 president of the Nevada Library Association (NLA). In this role, one of her goals is to work with library organizations across the state to get their staff involved and active in the organization. Silverman-Montano, head of Youth Services at the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District’s Spring Valley branch, was named the NLA's Librarian of the Year in 2016 and an ALA Emerging Leader in 2014. Where do you work and what is your role? I have worked for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District for thirteen years and currently serve as department head for Youth Services for the Spring Valley branch. It's a dream job because I have an amazing, passionate staff; our community is extremely diverse and involved in our library; and it is unbelievably fulfilling work to be able to serve our youth and their families and build lifelong learners.   What do you like best about your job? Honestly, being a manager and leader. As a department head, I'm able to work with and support my staff to help make their goals come to fruition. In the six months I've been in my position, we've completely transformed our department. My first priority was to understand what was and wasn't working and what my staff hoped to see changed. This resulted in consolidating our collections, rearranging shelving, and creating spaces to better serve our community—including an expanded tutoring area, play area, teen zone, and story room as well as a new STEAM Wall for passive educational discovery. All of this could not have been accomplished without staff being able to candidly express their ideas and concerns, and all of us coming together as a fabulous team to make it happen. We are now looking for ways to further grow our services and space to meet the needs of our community. Why did you decide to pursue a degree in LIS? Libraries have been a part of my identity my entire life. My mom was a single mother of five, working multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet, so we grew up with very little means. The one consistent and infinitely reliable form of entertainment and education in our lives, outside of school, was the library. My mom would take us to every program and storytime she could in her time off, and at minimum, we would go to our local branch at least once a week to check out new books. The library was my solace and favorite place to be. When I turned fourteen, my mom forced me to become a teen volunteer, which I hated at first because volunteering didn't entail reading. But, because my mom was brilliant and endeavored to give us the best life possible, she said that I didn't have a choice and that it would be an incredibly beneficial experience. Little did I know, it would shape my entire career. Because the librarian knew me, she invested more time than expected to make my volunteer experience an incredibly rewarding one. I quickly grew to love it and strived to accomplish as much as I could to help the library. At sixteen, I was hired as a page, and after graduating from high school, I was promoted to a circulation assistant. After I received my undergraduate degree, I was hired as a youth services assistant; by that point I knew I would work for libraries for the rest of my life. I went straight into grad school and finished my MS/LIS in one and a half years, as I was eager to become a librarian and did so shortly after graduating. How did the iSchool help you get to where you are today? Attending the U of I was such a fabulous experience. I was determined to find a graduate school that not only had a great program but was also a place where students genuinely enjoyed their education. A friend of mine who was already obtaining her MS/LIS at the iSchool raved about her experience, and after talking to other colleagues about their experiences elsewhere, I knew where I wanted to go. Through the School, I have made lifelong friends and connections to professionals all over the country. I loved how much versatility I had in choosing my courses, all of which challenged me t[...]

HathiTrust Research Center hosts fourth annual UnCamp

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 20:03:49 +0000

(image) Over 140 people attended the HathiTrust Research Center (HTRC) UnCamp, hosted by the University of California, Berkeley Libraries, on January 25 and 26. In addition to keynotes focused on methodologies of text and data mining, researchers from the fields of information science, digital libraries, literary history, digital pedagogy, and the history of social movements presented their work and its intersection with the HathiTrust Digital Library. Slides and notes from the presentations are available on the Uncamp website.

iSchool-affiliated presentations included:

"Consistency and Confidence in the Million-Book Library"
Keynote presented by iSchool Research Fellow David Mimno, assistant professor of information science at Cornell University

"Mastering Metadata"
Presenters included faculty affiliate Tim Cole, professor at the University Library

"HTRC Crash Course: What is it and what can I do with it?"
Presenters included Eleanor Dickson, visiting HTRC digital humanities specialist, and faculty affiliate Harriett Green, associate professor at the University Library

"HathiTrust Research Center Updates Plenary"
Presenters included Professor J. Stephen Downie, associate dean for research and HTRC co-director

"Curriculum Development"
Presenters included Eleanor Dickson, visiting HTRC digital humanities specialist

"It was impressive to see the breadth and depth of research projects using HathiTrust Research Center resources and the excitement they generated," said Downie.

The HTRC is a collaboration between the University of Illinois, Indiana University, and the HathiTrust to enable advanced computational access to the HathiTrust Digital Library database, a collection of just under 14 million digitized volumes. By developing state-of-the-art software tools and cyberinfrastructure, the HTRC hopes to resolve the technical challenges that occur within massive amounts of digital text, enabling access to the digital growing record of human knowledge.

Underwood’s research shows paradox of women’s representation in literature through the ages

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 20:52:30 +0000

While the issue of gender equality is more prevalent in modern times than in the Victorian era, a new study shows that in literature, the number of women characters and women authors has declined rather than grown over the years. Professor Ted Underwood led the research, which used machine learning to analyze the presentation of gender in more than 100,000 novels from 1703 to 2009 in the HathiTrust Digital Library. 

According to Underwood, "By 1960, women had lost half the space they occupied in nineteenth-century fiction, even though gender roles had become more flexible."

He and his fellow researchers, David Bamman, assistant professor of information science at the University of California, Berkeley, and Sabrina Lee, a graduate student in English at Illinois, recently published their findings, "The Transformation of Gender in English-Language Fiction," in the journal Cultural Analytics. Using an algorithm Underwood and Bamman had built for another characterization project, they discovered shifts in the words that characterize gender as well as a decrease in the number of gendered words. 

Their work was recently featured in the article, "Women Were Better Represented in Victorian Novels than Modern Ones." As Underwood points out in the article, "Although literary historians have talked about women's departure from the novel at certain points before, nobody's done the kind of broad-scale work that would demonstrate continuous trends. That’s where machine learning comes in."

This research was funded by the Workset Creation for Scholarly Analysis and Data Capsule (WCSA+DC) grant through the HathiTrust Research Center (HTRC). The HTRC is a collaboration between the University of Illinois, Indiana University, and the HathiTrust to enable advanced computational access to the HathiTrust Digital Library database, a collection of just under 14 million digitized volumes.

Underwood is a professor in the iSchool and also holds an appointment with the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He is the author of two books about literary history, including most recently Why Literary Periods Mattered (Stanford, 2013). His articles have appeared in PMLA, Representations, MLQ, and Cultural Analytics. He is currently finishing his upcoming book, Distant Horizons: Digital Evidence and Literary Change.

2018 Gryphon Lecture: Marianne Martens

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 21:43:22 +0000

Marianne Martens will present the 2018 Gryphon Lecture, "The Forever Fandom of Harry Potter: Fan Fiction, Festivals, and Charitable Works."  First published in 1997, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter changed the landscape for children's publishing, in terms of sales figures, bestseller status, and book length. The Harry Potter books are cross-over titles, which means that even though they are published as children's books, their appeal extends to adult readers as well, and this might explain how members of the "Harry Potter Generation," who grew up with a book released each year, continue to participate in Harry Potter fandom. The world-building within the series lends itself exceptionally well to various fan-based activities, from fan fiction, to festivals, to charitable works, each of which are expanding into areas with adult appeal. Protective of the books and their characters, J.K. Rowling (and related corporate entities) have not always been supportive of such fan activities. Yet arguably, the fans' ongoing immaterial and affective labor (Terranova, 2000) around the series is largely responsible for its success. This talk presents an in-progress monograph, which examines how and why fans contribute their labor in support of Harry Potter, and the ensuing tensions between fans and the corporations who own him.  Martens is an iSchool research fellow and assistant professor of library and information science at Kent State University. Her research covers the interconnected fields of youth services librarianship and publishing, and the impact of interactive reading technologies. Previously, she was vice president of North-South Books in New York. Martens is the author of Publishers, Readers, and Digital Engagement (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be recorded. Location: Room 126, with a reception to follow in the East Foyer Sponsor: The Center for Children's BooksEvent Date: Fri, 03/02/2018 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm Tweet [...]