iSchool at Illinois names Catherine Blake its Centennial Scholar for 2017-2018

 

The School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has named Associate Professor Catherine Blake the Centennial Scholar for 2017-2018. The award is endowed by alumni and friends of the School and given in recognition of outstanding accomplishments and/or professional promise in information sciences.

A leading researcher in text mining medical literature, Blake has returned from a year as a faculty fellow at the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, a research and development unit of the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). There she worked on projects in semantic knowledge representation and medical ontology research.

Blake’s earlier focus on how people synthesize evidence from literature directly informs her computational approaches to accelerate scientific discovery. She utilizes her industrial experience as a software developer, formal training in information and computer science, and more than a decade of experience in text mining scientific articles in medicine, toxicology, and epidemiology. Her work has been published in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, the Journal of Biomedical Informatics, Environmental Health Perspectives, and elsewhere. She has also published three book chapters.

Blake is co-principal investigator on a project funded by the National Science Foundation that uses next-generation risk assessment tools to explore how the culture of an organization affects the likelihood of a disaster. She recently completed a project that analyzed data reuse at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I am deeply grateful to receive this award, and the timing rounds out a wonderful year while I was on sabbatical at NIH. I am very much looking forward to integrating that experience back into the iSchool and the information science research community,” said Blake, who also holds affiliate appointments in the Departments of Computer Science and Medical Information Science at Illinois.

“We are delighted to recognize Cathy’s work with the Centennial Scholar award,” said Dean Allen Renear. “She has been pioneering new approaches to better integrate and advance our understanding of medical research results. This is enormously important work, and we are excited about both the results so far and the prospects ahead. We are also, of course, very pleased to have her back with us!”

At the iSchool, Blake serves as associate director of the Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship, which studies the information lifecycle in the contexts of science and scholarship. She teaches text mining, an introductory course on databases, evidence-based discovery, and foundations of socio-technical data analytics. She also designed the School’s graduate specialization in Socio-technical Data Analytics (SODA), which was funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and formed the basis of the data analytics track in the new MS in information management.

Prior to joining the iSchool in 2009, Blake was an assistant professor in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She holds an MS and PhD in information and computer science from the University of California, Irvine, and a BS and MS in computer science from the University of Wollongong, Australia.

Click here for more on the Illinois website.

 

University of Illinois iSchool gives 2017 Downs Intellectual Freedom Award to the Kansas City Public Library

 

The Kansas City Public Library’s defense of the First Amendment has earned it the 2017 Downs Intellectual Freedom Award. The award is given annually by the faculty of the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and cosponsored by Libraries Unlimited.

On May 9, 2016, the Kansas City Public Library (KCPL), in cooperation with the Truman Library Institute and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City, hosted a talk by Dennis Ross, a former advisor on the Middle East to Presidents George H. W. Bush and Barack Obama and currently a distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. During the question-and-answer period, library patron Jeremy Rothe-Kushel asked about U.S. support for what he called Israel’s “state-sponsored terrorism.” After Ross responded, Rothe-Kushel attempted to follow up and was grabbed by a private security guard, followed by an off-duty police officer, both of whom had been hired by the Jewish Community Foundation.

Steve Woolfolk, KCPL’s director of programming, intervened, noting that discourse is accepted and encouraged at a public event held in a public library. He was physically injured by the officers and arrested.

R. Crosby Kemper III, KCPL executive director, said the private security guard was not acting on behalf of the library and had no right to remove a patron for asking a question. When the charges against Woolfolk were not dropped, KCPL went public with the incident. In September 2017, a municipal court judge found Woolfolk not guilty on all charges.

Woolfolk has been lauded for his actions by the American Library Association (ALA), Urban Libraries Council, and Missouri Library Association. He was awarded the 2017 Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity, established by the best-selling author and the ALA to recognize individuals who have “faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact.”

In addition, the KCPL received ALA’s 2017 Paul Howard Award for Courage, given biannually for “unusual courage for the benefit of library programs or services.”

According to nominator Kate Williams, associate professor at the iSchool, “Giving the Downs Award to the Kansas City Public Library, especially these librarians, will help educate many people nationwide and beyond as to the special roles of the public library, the police, and private security forces in a democratic society, and the boundaries we all navigate to protect free speech and intellectual freedom.”

A reception to honor the KCPL will take place during the Midwinter Meeting of the ALA in Denver, Colorado, on Saturday, February 10, 2018, from 5:30-7:00 p.m. in Ellingwood Rooms A and B at the Crowne Plaza Downtown Denver. Libraries Unlimited provides an honorarium for the recipient and cosponsors the reception.

The Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award is presented annually to acknowledge individuals or groups who have furthered the cause of intellectual freedom, particularly as it affects libraries and information centers and the dissemination of ideas. Granted to those who have resisted censorship or efforts to abridge the freedom of individuals to read or view materials of their choice, the award may be given in recognition of a particular action or long-term interest in, and dedication to, the cause of intellectual freedom. The award was established in 1969 by the iSchool’s faculty to honor Robert Downs, a champion of intellectual freedom, on his twenty-fifth anniversary as director of the School.

With Libraries Unlimited, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, assuming cosponsorship of the award in 2012, ABC-CLIO has been dedicated to supporting the Downs Award for more than thirty years. As a publisher committed to advancing library professional development and independent critical thought, Libraries Unlimited and the entire ABC-CLIO family are strong advocates of intellectual freedom rights and the dissemination of all ideas. The iSchool at Illinois is very honored to share sponsorship with Libraries Unlimited and appreciates the contributions it and the other imprints of ABC-CLIO have made in defending intellectual freedom through the years.

More on the University of Illinois website.

 

Illinois iSchool Dean to Step Down in August

 

Allen Renear, dean of the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will step down from his role in August 2018 and return to Illinois iSchool faculty.

In announcing the pending change, the school notes that Renear’s leadership has been critical during a period of rapid growth and transformation. During this time, the School expanded programs and resources while continuing to preserve its core identity and values.

“I want to thank Dean Renear for his passion as an advocate for the School, its faculty, staff, and students. During his tenure as dean, the School initiated new degrees, changed its name to reflect the full scope of its curriculum and research activities, developed a new robust financial foundation, reorganized its administration, made critical hires in strategic areas, and articulated an important vision of the role of the information sciences at the University and beyond,” said John Wilkin, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost for the Urbana campus.

Renear joined the iSchool as a faculty member in 2001. From 2008 to 2011, he served as associate dean for research. He was named interim dean in February 2012, and then later dean of the School.

“The time seems to have gone by quickly, but I am already past the median tenure for college deans, and I am looking forward to returning to my students and my research,” said Renear.

“It has been a great honor and privilege to serve as dean, but this is a perfect time for a transition. We are a top-ranked School with new exciting programs and terrific faculty and staff, and we have an emerging leadership role here at the University and beyond. Our next dean will have the opportunity to contribute to our School’s continued evolution and excellence, advancing our mission and supporting the communities we serve.”

The University will soon initiate a national search for a new dean, with the goal of filling the position before Renear steps down in August.

 

Nominations Sought for Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award

 

Nominations for the Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award are being sought by the iSchool at Illinois. The deadline for nominations has been extended to October 10, 2017.

The annual award acknowledges individuals or groups who have furthered the cause of intellectual freedom, particularly as it impacts libraries and information centers and the dissemination of ideas. Granted to those who have resisted censorship or efforts to abridge the freedom of individuals to read or view materials of their choice, the award may be in recognition of a particular action or a long-term interest in and dedication to the cause of intellectual freedom.

The Downs Award was established in 1969 by the Illinois iSchool’s faculty to honor Dean Emeritus Robert B. Downs, a champion of intellectual freedom, on the occasion of his twenty-fifth anniversary as director of the school.

The Downs Award recipient will receive an honorarium from Libraries Unlimited, an imprint of ABC-CLIO Publishing Company. The honoree will be recognized during the 2018 American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

Nomination instructions and a list of past recipients can be found on the Downs Award website.

 

UI iSchool’s Prof. Twidale named Outstanding Information Science Teacher by ASIS&T

 

University of Illinois Professor Michael Twidale, program director for the UI iSchool’s MS in information management, is the 2017 recipient of the Outstanding Information Science Teacher Award from the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T). The award recognizes Twidale’s unique teaching contributions through his methods of explaining highly technical material to students in various learning environments.

According to nominator Linda C. Smith, UI professor and associate dean for academic programs, Twidale “has been an outstanding information science teacher throughout his twenty years at Illinois, with his impact extending literally around the world. In courses such as Interfaces to Information Systems, Entrepreneurial IT Design, and Museum Informatics, whether face to face, online, or hybrid, he consistently performs as a master teacher with a strong commitment to students.”

Twidale will be presented with the award at the 2017 ASIS&T Annual Meeting, which will be held from October 27 to November 1 in Washington D.C.

“I am thrilled to receive this award from my professional association. It is an honor to be recognized for my efforts in developing innovative methods to engage and inspire students,” Twidale said.

Read the complete story on the University of Illinois website.

 

iSchools at ALA Annual Conference

 

The iSchools organization will be well represented at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition, with many members exhibiting and making presentations. The ALA Conference takes place June 22-27 in Chicago.

The School of Information Sciences at Illinois will be represented in booth #4742 in the Exhibit Hall. Alumni and students are invited to attend the Alumni Reception and LSAA Annual Meeting on Sunday, June 25, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Petterino’s, 150 N. Dearborn. Click here for more about Illinois iSchool faculty presentations and other events.

The Syracuse University School of Information Studies will be represented in booth #4839. Syracuse will be participating in ALISE’s Library and Information Studies Cooperative Alumni Reunion on Sunday, June 25, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Swissotel, Alpine II room. Click here for more on Syracuse faculty sessions and presentations.

The Rutgers School of Information and Communication will have representatives on hand in booth #4942. Rutgers iSchool faculty will also be supporting the ALISE/LIS Cooperative Alumni Reunion on Sunday, June 25, 2017 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Swissotel Hotels & Resorts, Room Edelweiss. Click here for details about Rutgers participation in the event.

Representatives of the Simmons College School of Library and Information Science will be in booth #4740. Alumni and students are invited to a free reception on Saturday, June 24, 5:30 p.m. at Tapas Valencia. Visit the Simmons iSchool website for more information.

Attendees can meet with a representative of the Department of Information Studies at University College London in booth 4734. Click here for details.

The University of Washington Information School will be on hand in booth #4739.

Alumni and friends of the University of Michigan School of Information are invited to attend a reception on Thursday, June 22 from 5:00-6:30 pm at the 676 Restaurant in the Chicago Omni Hotel.

 

iSchool at Illinois seeks nominations for the Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award

 

The iSchool at Illinois seeks nominations for the Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award. The deadline for nominations is October 1, 2017.

Given annually, the award acknowledges individuals or groups who have furthered the cause of intellectual freedom, particularly as it impacts libraries and information centers and the dissemination of ideas. Granted to those who have resisted censorship or efforts to abridge the freedom of individuals to read or view materials of their choice, the award may be in recognition of a particular action or a long-term interest in and dedication to the cause of intellectual freedom.

Libraries Unlimited, an imprint of ABC-CLIO Publishing Company, provides an honorarium to the Downs Award recipient and co-hosts the reception held in honor of the recipient. The reception and award ceremony for the 2017 Downs Intellectual Freedom Award will take place in February 2018 during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

Click here to learn more, including information on submitting nominations.

 

Martin Wolske Named Interim Director of the Center for Digital Inclusion

 

The School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois has announced the appointment of Martin Wolske as interim director of the Center for Digital Inclusion (CDI). Wolske assumes the position following the departure of Jon Gant, founding director, who recently accepted the deanship of the School of Library and Information Sciences at North Carolina Central University in Durham.

As a senior research scientist and adjunct lecturer, Wolske is well known for his excellence in teaching, research, and community service. His experience includes leadership roles in the international Community Informatics Research Network and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium’s Outreach and Engagement Practitioners Network. A frequently invited speaker at national and international venues, Wolske shares insights gained through advanced research in areas such as community informatics and digital literacy. His accomplishments also include service as president of the Champaign Public Library Board of Trustees, which recently completed a successful search for a new director.

Wolske looks forward to his new role and the opportunity to further the mission of CDI: to foster inclusive and sustainable societies through research, teaching, and public engagement about information and communication technologies (ICT) and their impacts on communities, organizations, and governments. Learn more

 

Illinois iSchool Adds Three Faculty Members

 

Three new faculty members joined the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois.

Ted Underwood joined the iSchool in August as a professor. He holds a joint appointment with the Department of English, where he has served on the faculty since 2003. Underwood worked at the University of Rochester and Colby College before coming to Illinois. He has authored two books—Why Literary Periods Mattered: Historical Contrast and the Prestige of English Studies and The Work of the Sun: Literature, Science and Political Economy 1760-1860—and is working on a third, The Horizon of Literary History. He specializes in the broad collection of fields known as digital humanities. Learn more.

Following a one-year postdoctoral assignment at the University of Pittsburgh, Jodi Schneider joined the faculty in August as an assistant professor. Her research interests include computer-supported cooperative work; linked data including ontologies, metadata, and the semantic web; and scholarly communication. She previously worked as a science library specialist at Amherst College and as a web librarian at Appalachian State University. Her contributions to library technology include founding the Code4Lib Journal and co-authoring the “W3C Library Linked Data Incubator Group Final Report,” which has been translated into French, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. Learn more.

Prior to joining the iSchool in September, Matthew Turk was a research scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and a research assistant professor at the Department of Astronomy at Illinois. He continues to hold a joint appointment with Astronomy and is group leader at the Data Exploration lab at NCSA. His research focuses on the organization of data and the meaning behind it, how groups of individuals collaborate in an inherently competitive system, and how the interaction of software and the human experience of knowledge generation can be influenced to increase productivity or understanding. Learn more.

 

Illinois’ Emily Knox elected to National Coalition Against Censorship board

 

Champaign, Illinois (USA). – “Assistant Professor Emily Knox has been elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). An alliance of more than fifty nonprofit organizations, NCAC promotes freedom of thought, inquiry, and expression and opposes censorship in all its forms.
Knox’s research interests include information access, intellectual freedom and censorship, information ethics, information policy, and the intersection of print culture and reading practices. In 2015 she was awarded the Illinois Library Association Intellectual Freedom Award and was named a WISE Instructor of the Year.
Knox’s book, Book Banning in 21st Century America, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in January 2015. It is the first monograph in the Beta Phi Mu Scholars’ Series. The book is an expansion of the analysis presented in her Library & Information Science Research article, “Society, institutions, and common sense: Themes in the discourse of challengers in 21st century United States.””
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