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School of Information Sciences - University of Illinois


Chin co-organizes Smart Gigabit Communities Reverse Pitch Challenge

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 22:03:57 +0000

courtesy of Technology Services at Illinois Chieh-Li "Julian" Chin, visiting research scientist at the iSchool's Center for Digital Inclusion (CDI), is a co-organizer of the Smart Gigabit Communities Reverse Pitch competition at this weekend's HackIllinois. Strategic collaboration among the University of Illinois, the City of Champaign, a student-driven hackathon and two National Science Foundation programs—the US Ignite Smart Gigabit Communities Program and the Midwest Big Data Hub Program—kicks off this weekend. The University has been awarded a $20,000 grant from US Ignite to host the Smart Gigabit Communities Reverse Pitch Challenge in our community. The community will provide matching contributions in cash and/or in-kind, totaling $40,000 in available resources for the Reverse Pitch event to support the development of smart gigabit applications. From February 23-25, university students from around the nation will converge at the Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science to participate in HackIllinois, a student-driven hackathon. One of the components of this year's event is the Reverse Pitch Challenge. Aimed at gigabit communities, those with very high speed community data networks, Reverse Pitch events provide funds to develop applications that use the gigabit resources at the community's disposal in service of larger community goals. Data science application developers partner with gigabit communities to create solutions to problems or mine data in ways that enhance efficiency, save resources, or uncover solutions to problems. Members of the Reverse Pitch organizing team met with City of Champaign representatives to discuss this first-ever partnership and how access to more or better information would improve processes or potentially drive down city costs. "They talked about pain points to see where software or data analysis could help," said Tracy Smith, Director of IT Infrastructure for Campus Research IT at Illinois. The Smart Cities initiative is something the City of Champaign is interested in, explained Director of Information Technologies for the City of Champaign Mark Toalson. "We are interested in smart technologies, but getting there can be a challenge. This gives us an opportunity to put some data out there and see what folks can come up with," he noted. The challenge that students will be asked to meet is to develop gigabit solutions that address: Improved efficiency of City services with data visualization and analysis. The City of Champaign has provided several years of Public Works data, geospatial data, and service request data collected via the See.Click.Fix app.  Enhanced monitoring of micro climate change in our City. The City of Champaign needs an improved micro climate monitoring application to help improve weather prediction and observation. The application will create the ability for municipal staff, including police and other emergency agencies, to pro-actively position resources in response to weather events moving across the community. The Hackathon is the launch of a multi-month project to develop gigabit software in these two areas provided by the City. Participants will present either their designs or prototypes on Sunday. The winning designs will be given to project teams to work on throughout the next six months. Another of the local event's goals is to encourage more researchers and developers to work on smart applications that can solve socio-technical issues, explained Chin. "There are a number of mentors coming in to assist the students with their work and the Midwest Big Data Hub is coordinating those professionals," she said. The mentors are from many backgrounds--from corporations and academia--including MBDH colleagues, University of Illinois faculty and professionals from the National Data Service.   "We are hoping this is the first of many opportunities to engage with community stakeholders to create applications that use our existing smart gigabit technologies for the public good," Chin added. [...]

Leoni recognized for excellence in exhibition design

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 14:21:36 +0000

(image) Master's student Natalie Leoni is the winner of this year's Graduate Student Exhibit Contest and the C. Barbara Mueller Award for Excellence in Exhibition Design, sponsored by the University of Illinois Library. Her exhibit, "Mapping Fiction," showcases holdings from the University Library's collections, displaying literary maps from books such as Winnie-the-Pooh and The Hobbit. The exhibit highlights how maps like these were created and disseminated.

According to Leoni, the inspiration for her exhibit came a field trip taken by her History of the Book class last semester. 

"Our class went to the Maps Library, where Jenny Johnson had laid out several interesting maps for us to examine. I was drawn to a book that was devoted to the galactic maps of Star Trek. It made me wonder what other fictitious places were meticulously mapped out," she said.

She hopes that visitors to the exhibit will discover that maps and map makers are not just for the "real world." 

(image) "In fact, many authors and writers labor over creating maps for places that can only exist in our minds. Even in these fictitious places, readers still expect some directions."

After graduating from Illinois with her bachelor's degree in history, Leoni volunteered at her local library and loved it, which led her to the iSchool for her MS/LIS degree. In the future, she would like to pursue a career in book or paper conservation.

The exhibit, "Mapping Fiction," will be on display at the University Library's Marshall Gallery through the month of February.

Martens to deliver 2018 Gryphon Lecture

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 15:10:18 +0000

(image) Marianne Martens (MS '06) will deliver the 2018 Gryphon Lecture on Friday, March 2, at the iSchool. Sponsored annually by The Center for Children's Books (CCB), the lecture features a leading scholar in the field of youth and literature, media, and culture. It is free and open to the campus and public.

In "The Forever Fandom of Harry Potter: Fan Fiction, Festivals, and Charitable Works," Martens will examine "how and why fans contribute their labor in support of Harry Potter, and the ensuing tensions between fans and the corporations who own him."

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.

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 will be recorded, will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Room 126 of the iSchool. A reception will follow in the East Foyer.

Portrayals of doctors in comics have become more realistic, nuanced

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 19:25:17 +0000

courtesy of the University of Illinois News BureauThe images of doctors found in comics can be comforting, such as the authoritative and compassionate "Rex Morgan, M.D.," or bizarre, as in the case of Marvel Comics character Dr. Strange, a neurosurgeon turned sorcerer. Their depiction in comics has progressed from slapstick portrayals in the early 20th century to comics that present more realistic representations of them and of the ethical questions they face. Associate Professor Carol Tilley wrote about the representations of doctors and medical practice in comic strips, comic books and graphic novels in the February issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics. The issue was devoted to the topic of graphic medicine. An increasing number of comics today deal with subjects such as chronic illnesses and patient experiences, as well as education about medical issues, said Tilley, a comics historian and scholar who served as a judge for the Eisner Comic Industry Awards in 2016. "The way comics have portrayed doctors has changed from cartoony and stereotypical to more nuanced," Tilley said. The earliest depictions of doctors portrayed them as "a bit quackish," although knowledgable and competent in diagnosis and treatment, Tilley wrote in the journal article. In a surrealist fantasy newspaper comic strip, "Dream of the Rarebit Fiend," that ran from 1904-11, the doctors are encountered only in strange dreams. Beginning in the 1930s and continuing for many decades, doctors (nearly always male in the comics) were portrayed as benevolent, knowledgeable and authoritative – men of technical and ethical perfection. The comic strip "Rex Morgan, M.D.," created by a psychiatrist, is an example of "the valorization of medicine and scientific expertise," Tilley said. Nonfiction comics portrayed real-life doctors in much the same way, including a story about Nobel laureate Robert Koch and his discovery of the microorganisms that cause anthrax and cholera, Tilley wrote.  In the early 1940s, nonfiction medical comics addressed health care issues. For example, comics aimed at servicemen addressed the prevention of venereal disease and malaria, and others provided information about mental health issues. Doctors appear frequently in superhero comics and their medical backgrounds and practice are treated superficially. Tilley wrote about "Dr. Mid-Nite," a comic strip in which a doctor loses his sight in a lab explosion but discovers he can see in the dark and becomes a crime fighter. Likewise, Marvel Comics' Dr. Stephen Strange "transformed from human to superhero because of an accident," Tilley wrote, but the comic features no real medical storyline or realistic representation of the profession. Instead, "the emphasis is most decidedly on 'strange' rather than 'doctor.'" Doctors are as likely to appear in superhero comics as villains – think Dr. Decibel of the Institute of Evil or Dr. Tramma, who cybernetically alters humans for evil – as they are as forces of good, Tilley said. Since the 1970s, Tilley wrote, "the depictions of physicians in contemporary nonsuperhero comics veer toward portraying them as messy and fallible humans with imperfect medical knowledge." In the past 10 years, comics have taken a realistic look at doctor-patient interactions and at the practice of medicine. "The Bad Doctor," written by a British doctor, tells about a rural Welsh physician who has an obsessive-compulsive disorder, as does one of his patients. The journal Annals of Internal Medicine runs comics written by doctors that depict their everyday lives in the profession. Nonfiction comics are continuing to be used for education. The public health department serving Seattle's King County has released comics to raise awareness of free clinic services as well as helping people understand pandemics. A pediatric allergist, Alex Thomas, created a comic series called "Iggy and The Inhalers" to help children understand asthma, its triggers and how medicine works to treat it. [...]

CDI completes successful five-year run

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 15:34:18 +0000

The Center for Digital Inclusion (CDI) at the iSchool will close as a separate entity effective July 1, 2018, subject to the approval of the Senate of the Urbana-Champaign campus. Its programs and initiatives will continue in the form of a distributed research model. The mission of CDI is to foster inclusive and sustainable societies through research, teaching, and public engagement about information and communication technologies (ICTs) and their impacts on communities, organizations, and governments. The iSchool remains committed to this mission, which will continue to be fundamental to the work of faculty. "Equitable information access, use, and capacity building remain key concerns of the iSchool in teaching, research, and engagement," said J. Stephen Downie, professor and associate dean for research. "We believe that excellent scholarship and pedagogies will emerge from newly forming clusters and collaborations on campus—efforts that don’t fit neatly into a 'center' model." In lieu of a center, iSchool faculty members will continue to focus their research, teaching, and engagement on crucial issues of digital equity and social justice in the information professions. Martin Wolske, CDI interim director, will collaborate with iSchool faculty and alumni to support ongoing dialogues and spark new discussions about digital equity, including the workshop, "New Ways of Thinking about Digital Equity," which will be held on April 17 as a preconference event for Net Inclusion 2018. Wolske, iSchool senior research scientist and senior lecturer, will continue to teach courses addressing issues of social inclusion and exclusion, particularly as they relate to technology use in support of individuals and their communities; these courses include Community Engagement (IS 418), Introduction to Networked Systems (IS 451), Informal Learning Spaces and Pedagogies (IS 490IL), and Community Informatics Studio (IS 490ST).   CDI was launched in 2013, building on the legacies of Prairienet (1994-2008) and the Community Informatics Initiative (2007-2012). Jon Gant, former research associate professor at the iSchool, was the CDI founding director; Gant left Illinois in 2016 to become dean of the School of Library and Information Sciences at North Carolina Central University. Through Gant's leadership, CDI played a crucial role in the efforts of Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband (UC2B) to establish a fiber-optic broadband network in the local community, promoting equitable access to high-speed Internet service. CDI-affiliated faculty and their research areas include: Abdul Alkalimat (emeritus)—Digital inequality, community informatics, African American intellectual history Catherine Blake—Biomedical informatics, natural language processing, evidence-based discovery, learning health systems, socio-technical systems, data analytics, literature-based discovery Bertram (Chip) Bruce (emeritus)—Community informatics, environments to support inquiry-based learning, collaboration in knowledge making, new literacy practices Nicole A. Cooke—Human information behavior, particularly in an online context; diversity and social justice in librarianship; LIS education and pedagogy, particularly in the online environment; information literacy and instruction Les Gasser—Social informatics; collective, distributed, and self-organizing information systems; conceptual foundations of information; extreme-scale distributed simulation; origins and use of information in biological systems Elizabeth Hoiem—Children's literature and material culture, British literature, history of education and literacy, social history, child labor, thing theory, fantasy, science fiction, science and technology in literature, automata, digital humanities pedagogy Brant Houston (Journalism)—Nonprofit journalism newsrooms, digital tools for news-gathering, new business models for journalism Emily Knox—Information access, intellectual freedom and cen[...]

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 c[...]

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.

Brooks coauthors paper on social media use during Ebola outbreak

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 20:07:19 +0000

The 2014 Ebola virus epidemic that originated in West Africa and spread to other parts of the globe was the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. During this period, a frightened public turned to social media and internet search engines for information and to share news of the outbreak. According to a team of international researchers, including iSchool Research Scientist Ian Brooks, understanding the social media activity around a health crisis, like the 2014 Ebola outbreak, can help health organizations improve their communication strategies and prevent misinformation and panic.

Their paper, "Fear on the networks: analyzing the 2014 Ebola outbreak," was published in December in Pan American Journal of Public Health (41, 2017). In addition to Brooks, researchers included lead author Marcelo D’Agostino (Department of Communicable Diseases and Health Analysis, Pan American Health Organization), Felipe Mejía (international consultant, Bogotá, Columbia), Myrna Marti and David Novillo-Ortiz (Department of Knowledge Management, Bioethics, and Research, Pan American Health Organization), and Gerardo de Cosio (Department of Communicable Diseases and Health Analysis, Pan American Health Organization).

The research team analyzed Twitter tweets, Facebook posts, and Google trends as well as other internet resources from March-November 2014. They found that in most cases, news agencies have more engagement with the public in social media than do health organizations. In addition, spikes in activity around a topic can be used to signal to health authorities an outbreak may be underway. They concluded that during an outbreak, health organizations need to not only improve their communication strategies but also to make sure that news agencies are using their communications as reporting sources.

Scholarship recipient interested in pursuing career in academic libraries

Fri, 09 Feb 2018 14:06:36 +0000

Master's student Paige Dhyne likes to connect people with information. It was one of the reasons that Dhyne, who hails from Grand Rapids, Michigan, decided to study LIS after earning a dual bachelor's degree in film/video production and writing from Grand Valley State University. While initially attracted to the iSchool because of its number-one ranking, she became convinced that Illinois was the perfect fit for her after getting to know the iSchool staff, faculty, and students at a visit day last spring.  Dhyne is happy with her decision to enroll in the MS/LIS program. "I've never felt lost or out of place, and the breadth and depth of opportunity here is unparalleled. If I had to make the choice again, I would choose the iSchool every time." She is the recipient of an iSchool scholarship that focuses on recruiting exceptional students, which is made possible through contributions from alumni and friends to the Annual Fund. For Dhyne, the scholarship felt like an affirmation of her decision to study LIS, alleviating some of the "what ifs" and allowing her to make the move to Illinois. "I am honored to have received a scholarship. Since starting at the iSchool, I now realize that I was only limited financially—the sky is truly the limit here—and the scholarship reduced my limitations. I hope I can reciprocate that one day for someone else," she said. Dhyne's research interests include academic libraries, information literacy, and knowledge and information management. She is currently conducting a textual analysis research project with affiliated faculty member Lisa Hinchliffe, professor/coordinator for information literacy services and instruction at the University Library. "The project looks at how librarians, libraries, and research processes are mentioned in introductory-level, undergraduate science textbooks," she explained.  At the iSchool, Dhyne is chair of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) committee within the ALA student chapter.  "I am really interested in how the ACRL Information Literacy Framework applies to nonhumanities disciplines. After receiving my MS/LIS, I'd love to work in an academic library and balance project management with instruction in some way. I have a passion for the sciences, biology in particular, and I'd like to work with students and faculty in that field of study, maybe as a liaison librarian or subject specialist librarian. Ultimately, I'd like to become the director of an academic library and use my project and knowledge management to better the instructional services the university library has to offer its students." Working as a graduate assistant in the Undergraduate Library has given her hands-on experience in an academic library. "My assistantship affords me opportunities that do not necessarily fit in a classroom setting," she said. "My primary responsibility is to independently teach information literacy sessions at the library to undergraduate students, ESL students, and communication students. I do, however, have some project work that allows me to expand my skillset in collection development, programming, outreach, promotional media, and assessment. I also get to supervise undergraduate students too, which is a great learning opportunity for me." In her free time, Dhyne enjoys gaming, weightlifting, and reading, particularly YA/New Adult fantasy books. "I run a readers' advisory blog/twitter/bookstagram surrounding that genre," she said. "And if I'm not reading it—I'm writing it!" [...]

ISAA seeks nominations for annual awards

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 15:41:02 +0000

The iSchool Alumni Association (ISAA) is seeking nominations for three distinguished awards. The awards are given annually at the iSchool alumni reception held at the American Library Association conference. The deadline for nomination is April 1, 2018.

The Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes an individual alumnus of the School who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of library and information science.

The Leadership Award recognizes a recipient of the master's degree from the School who has graduated in the past ten years and who has shown leadership in the field of library and information science.

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes a friend of the School including faculty, staff, alumni and non-alumni, who has served ISAA or the iSchool in an exceptional way.

To submit a nomination, please send the candidate's name, present position, name of the award, and specific reasons for the nomination to:

ISAA Awards Committee
iSchool Office of Advancement
501 E. Daniel Street
Champaign, IL 61820-6211
phone: (217) 300-5746
e-mail: ischool-advancement [at] (iSchool Advancement)

The nominator's name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address must be included. Supporting documentation, additional materials, and/or references will be appreciated.

All materials must be e-mailed or postmarked by April 1, 2018.

Wolske organizes workshop on digital equity

Wed, 07 Feb 2018 19:19:18 +0000

Martin Wolske, interim director of the iSchool's Center for Digital Inclusion (CDI), is organizing a workshop on digital equity for Net Inclusion 2018, which will be held on April 17-19 in Cleveland, Ohio. He is working in collaboration with Angela Siefer, executive director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) and former CDI senior research associate.
The workshop, "New Ways of Thinking about Digital Equity," will be held as a preconference event on April 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. It will address new ways of thinking about digital equity in response to presentations by researchers who analyze information access, information poverty, and feminist ethics of care. Participants will learn about a variety of methodological approaches to ensuring information equity and will contribute to future investigations.

Speakers will include iSchool Assistant Professor Emily Knox; CDI Research Affiliate Barbara Jones, former director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom; Colin Rhinesmith (PhD '14), assistant professor of library and information science at Simmons College; and CM Winters (MS '96), assistant professor of library science at the City Colleges of Chicago-Malcom X.

Early registration for this preconference event ends March 1. Visit the website for more details.

Established in 2013, CDI fosters inclusive and sustainable societies through research, teaching, and public engagement about information and communication technologies and their impacts on communities, organizations, and governments.

iSchool takes top honors at BOBCATSSS 2018

Tue, 06 Feb 2018 14:25:24 +0000

(image) iSchool master's student Lisa Morrison won the award for best paper at BOBCATSSS 2018, which was held in Riga, Latvia, from January 24-26. The BOBCATSSS Symposium is organized each year by library and information science students from European universities who plan and implement both the content and the management of the conference as a part of their studies.

Morrison coauthored the paper, "Reading Data - The Missing Literacy from LIS Education," with Associate Professor Terry L. Weech. 

"The paper analyzes the syllabi from required courses in three LIS programs, and it argues for required courses to include more data literacy instruction to ensure that future librarians have the skills they will need regardless of the type of librarianship they pursue," explained Morrison. "The presentation received a really good response from the audience, with several people wanting to know more about the findings, recommendations, and plans for future research."

According to Weech, "To the best of my recollection, this is the first time the iSchool has received the best paper award at BOBCATSSS in the nearly twenty years we have been sending students."

The theme of BOBCATSSS 2018 was "The Power of Reading" and included the topics of reading skills, habits, and communication; memory institutions; and technological solutions. For the past several years, the iSchool has supported student participation in this unique library and information science event.

In addition to Morrison, other participants included:

  • Rachel Bellavia, who presented the poster, "Harry Potter and the Literary Child: How the Boy Who Lived Can Augment Library Programming," coauthored with Rachel McGuire.
  • Lizzy Boden, who presented the paper, "The Politics of Literacy: Libraries and Information Literacy in the 21st Century Political Context – Three National Case Studies."
  • Kathryn Funderburg, who presented the poster, "Grave Witnesses: The Circulation of Manuscript Forms of Richard Rolle's Lessons of the Dead."
  • Siobhan McKissic and Delaney Bullinger, who presented the poster, "Placemaking in Prison Libraries."
  • Laura Rocco, who presented the poster, "To Wear a Book and Its Status on Your Sleeve: Questions of Consumption and Uncommon Textuality."
  • Zohra Saulat, who presented the poster, "More Than a Memory: The University Library in Reviving a Revolution."
  • KayLee Strahan and Delaney Bullinger, who presented the poster, "The Librarian's Dilemma."
  • William (Billy) Tringali, who presented the paper, "It's a Magical World, But Where Is It? Nonhierarchical Cataloging in Public Libraries."

Athletics and analytics make a happy combination for MS student Kameron Wells

Fri, 02 Feb 2018 14:12:52 +0000

(image) Kameron Wells is combining his love of athletics with his interest in data analytics as a student in the iSchool's MS in information management (MS/IM) program. A Champaign native, Wells graduated in 2017 with his bachelor's degree in computer science from Knox College, where he was a four-time letterwinner and starting catcher on the school’s baseball team.

"Sports have been a huge influence in my life," said Wells, whose father played basketball for the University of Illinois. "Growing up, I played basketball and picked up golf in high school, but my true love has always been baseball."

He is still involved in baseball but now as coach. He serves as head coach of the Edison Middle School varsity baseball team in the fall and the Judah Christian High School varsity baseball team in the spring. 

According to Wells, his interest in data analytics developed naturally. "I was that kid obsessed with the stats on the back of baseball/basketball/football trading cards." After earning his MS/IM degree, he wants to get into the field of sports analytics, preferably using data driven-decisions to help player and team performance. 

"The data analytics concentration in the MS/IM, coupled with the flexibility of the program, allow me to tailor my degree to these goals," he said. "The degree was intriguing to me because it's geared to the twenty-first century. Companies are just starting to figure out that they need people with information management backgrounds, and of course, the University of Illinois was ahead of the curve by creating this degree program."

In addition to being a coach and student, he is a graduate data analyst with the U of I Division of Intercollegiate Athletics Sports Technology Department.

"I'm working with all twenty-one varsity teams, the ticketing department, social media department, and athletic training staff on various projects to enhance Illinois Athletics," said Wells. 

His ultimate "end goal" is to be the director of baseball research & development or director of baseball operations for a professional baseball team. Last summer Wells had the opportunity to work with the Baltimore Orioles on a project using data to help drive team decision making and personnel evaluations. He hopes to find a similar internship with a professional team this summer.

In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with friends, playing intramural sports, attending sporting events, spending time outside, watching TV, and reading.

"Since I was a kid, I always envisioned myself attending the University of Illinois," Wells said, "so when the opportunity presented itself, it was something that I couldn't pass up. The iSchool is one of the top schools of its kind in the nation with some of the best faculty a student could ask for. Coming here for my MS/IM degree was really a no brainer." 

Awesome Libraries Chapter provides seed funds for library innovations

Wed, 31 Jan 2018 20:59:48 +0000

A commitment to library innovations led a small group of librarians, including iSchool alumnus Joshua Finnell (MS '07), to create the Awesome Libraries Chapter. The chapter originated from a working group of the Library Pipeline, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting structural changes by providing opportunities, funding, and services that improve the library as an institution and librarianship as a profession. Finnell, head of research and instruction and associate professor in the University Libraries at Colgate University, started the chapter with group members Bonnie Tijerina, researcher at the Data & Society Research Institute in New York, and Robin Champieux, scholarly communication librarian at Oregon Health & Science University. "We wanted to provide an easy, no-strings attached seed fund for library projects and ideas that often fall outside of mainstream funding models," explained Finnell. "We chose to become a chapter within the Awesome Foundation because it provided us with ready-made infrastructure, a recognizable brand for publicity and marketing, and the flexibility to create and run a chapter in line with our principles and with a global reach." In 2017 the chapter was launched as a six-month pilot project. According to Finnell, the Awesome Libraries Chapter is one of only four themed chapters that accepts applications from any geographic location. "Most Awesome Foundation chapters are geographically located in an individual city and consist of approximately ten trustees (often ten friends), all of whom contribute $100 month to fund one project a month for $1,000," he said.  Many of the chapter's early financial sponsors came from the Library Pipeline. Trustees are tasked with discussing and voting on projects each quarter and providing the funding for each project, which will amount to a $300 contribution per trustee for 2018. However, in recruiting and accepting new trustees, the chapter is committed to expanding opportunities for participation. "Through the generosity of many individuals, several of whom wish to remain anonymous, we were able to create 'sponsored trustee' positions, alleviating the financial barrier of interested and qualified individuals from serving as trustees. As a result, we currently have trustees from around the globe and from almost every sector of librarianship," said Finnell. The first project that received funding from the chapter is a collaboration between The Warehouse Project & Gallery, a teen arts center, and the Summit (IL) Public Library, in which teens will celebrate the library's upcoming centennial by photographing and interviewing one hundred local residents about the library’s importance and impact on the community. The exhibit will be mounted in the library for the celebration.  One of the international projects funded by the chapter is TchadEducationPlus, which aims to collect and digitize materials and distribute them free of charge to reduce the educational divide for approximately 800,000 secondary education teachers and students throughout the country of Chad.  The chapter is currently seeking projects, trustees, and sponsors; more information is available on the chapter's website. "At the Symposium on the Future of Libraries at ALA Midwinter, Bonnie, Robin, and I will talk about the success and challenges of the chapter and how we envision this model affecting change in libraries and communities," said Finnell. "We will also hold our first-ever live pitch event! We have eight participants from the around the country pitching their best library idea." [...]