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New iSchool and New Dean at University of Pittsburgh


The University of Pittsburgh has formally launched its new iSchool. The new School of Computing and Information (SCI) is comprised of faculty drawn from the former School of Information Sciences and Department of Computer Science. According to a news story on the SCI website, the new school will host an array of academic programs that integrate computing and information with core disciplinary strengths across the University of Pittsburgh.

Planning for the new school began two years ago, when faculties of the School of Information Sciences and the Department of Computer Science were asked to consider how best to structure computing and information at the University of Pittsburgh. The new school was announced last October, and officially launched in July. It will enroll its first cohort of students in fall 2017.

After an extensive search, Dr. Paul Cohen has been named founding dean of the new school. Cohen is a highly-regarded scholar and administrator who was the founding director of the University of Arizona’s School of Information: Science, Technology and Arts. He has been on loan from that school to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the past several years.

In his welcome message on the new SCI website, Dean Cohen encourages breaking beyond disciplinary boundaries in favor of polymathy—the ability to work in multiple disciplines. “Humanity depends on complicated, interacting systems that we understand poorly … None of these systems — much less their interactions — belongs to a single academic department,” says Cohen. “I want to promote systems-oriented research, technology and education at Pitt, because the world’s systems are increasingly stressed, and we need new methods to model and manage them.”

Cohen succeeds outgoing Pitt SIS Dean Ron Larsen. Larsen is chair of the iSchools Caucus, a position he will retain until March of 2018, when he hands the organizational reins to chair-elect Sam Oh of Sungkyunkwan University.

“This is truly a remarkable opportunity,” said Larsen of the new school. “This will take the research and scholarship of the School of Information Sciences to a new level and provide Pitt an exciting new opportunity to shape society’s use of information and computing resources.”


iConference 2018 Opens for Submissions


iConference 2018 is now accepting submissions of papers, posters and proposals. Authors can submit their work using the conference’s secure submission website through the deadline of September 18. iConference 2018 will take place March 25-28, 2018 in Sheffield, UK; accepted papers will be published in Springer’s Lecture Notes in Computer Science, and indexed by Web of Science and Scopus.

The theme of iConference 2018 is “Transforming Digital Worlds.” The conference is being jointly organized by the University of Sheffield’s Information School and the iSchool at Northumbria. It is the thirteenth event in the iConference series, and the second to take place in Europe.

The iConference pushes the boundaries of information studies, explores core concepts and ideas, and creates new technological and conceptual configurations. It is open to all information scholars, researchers and practitioners, regardless of affiliation with a member iSchool. Click here to view this year’s Call for Participation.

The iConference series is presented by the iSchools Inc., a worldwide consortium of information schools dedicated to advancing the information field, and preparing students to meet the information challenges of the 21st Century. Sponsors for 2018 include Microsoft Corp.


Call for Workshop Papers on Computational Archival Science


A workshop titled “Computational Archival Science: digital records in the age of big data,” to be presented at IEEE Big Data 2017, is now calling for papers. The workshop will explore the conjunction (and its consequences) of emerging methods and technologies around big data with archival practice and new forms of analysis and historical, social, scientific, and cultural research engagement with archives. Details at

The call for papers comes from program chairs Prof. Richard Marciano (University of Maryland iSchool), Prof. Victoria Lemieux (University of British Columbia iSchool) and Dr. Mark Hedges, King’s College London. Papers are due Oct. 10, 2017.

“The large-scale digitization of analog archives, the emerging diverse forms of born-digital archive, and the new ways in which researchers across disciplines (as well as the public) wish to engage with archival material, are resulting in disruptions to transitional archival theories and practices,” the papers call notes. “Increasing quantities of ‘big archival data’ present challenges for the practitioners and researchers who work with archival material, but also offer enhanced possibilities for scholarship through the application of computational methods and tools to the archival problem space, and, more fundamentally, through the integration of ‘computational thinking’ with ‘archival thinking’.”


UNC’s Amelia Gibson receives IMLS Early Career Award


UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) Assistant Professor Amelia Gibson has received an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Laura Bush 21st Century Early Career Award to support a project titled “Deconstructing Information Poverty: Identifying, Supporting, and Leveraging Local Expertise in Marginalized Communities.”

The three-year project, which received over $336,600 in funding from IMLS, will examine the potential for libraries to help people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and their families fulfill their information needs and reduce information poverty in local ASD communities. It will also investigate how members of marginalized communities can act as self-advocates on a local level, and how libraries can recognize, empower, and educate all members of their communities through programming, planning, and collection development.

Gibson will collaborate with the Durham and Charlotte Public Libraries and the Autism Society of North Carolina (ASNC) for the project, which will culminate in the development and dissemination of an online toolkit that describes community assessment and engagement processes.

Click here for more on the UNC website.


University of Washington iSchool Names New Dean


Anind K. Dey has been named dean of the Information School at the University of Washington, President Ana Mari Cauce and Provost Jerry Baldasty announced this week. Dey comes to the UW from Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science, where he is the Charles M. Geschke professor and director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute. 

Dey will take over from Harry Bruce, who announced his intention of stepping down as dean earlier this year. Bruce is a former iCaucus Chair; he led the iSchools organization from 2010 to 2012.

In commenting on the appointment, Provost Baldasty expressed confidence in Dey’s ability to build on Bruce’s exemplary work, as well as that of dean emeritus Michael Eisenberg; Eisenberg was keynote speaker at the recent iConference 2017 in Wuhan, China.

According to an article by Victor Balta published by the UW, Dey’s research uses everyday technology (worn, carried and embedded in the environment) to develop tools and techniques for understanding and modeling human behavior, primarily within the areas of health, transportation, sustainability and education. Some of his work has involved using sensors to collect information on the activities of older people that could be used to better personalize their health care.

Dey earned his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from Simon Fraser University in Canada. He holds two master’s degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology – one in aerospace engineering and one in computer science. He received his Ph.D. in computer science, also from the Georgia Institute of Technology.


UNC’s David Gotz awarded $1 million by NSF for advanced data visualization methods


David Gotz, Associate Professor at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) and Assistant Director of the Carolina Health Informatics Program (CHIP), has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant worth over $1 million to develop a set of contextual visualization methods that will improve analysis of complex data sets. Gotz and his team will evaluate the new methods in a health outcomes setting, offering significant potential to improve health care through data analytics. Ultimate goals for the four-year project include the development of open-source software that can help advance data visualization accuracy and efficacy for enterprises around the world.

“Datasets can have many thousands of variables, a stark contrast to the relatively small number of dimensions supported by current visualization tools,” Gotz said. “The gap between what the data contains and what the visualization shows can put the validity of any analysis at great risk of bias, potentially leading to serious, hidden errors. This research project will develop a new approach to high-dimensional exploratory visualization that will help detect and reduce selection bias and other problems.”

Gotz and his team will build on the premise that the very summarization that makes many visual methods effective also inherently obscures important aspects of a high-dimensional datasets. In other words, people cannot fully understand complex data, or make good decisions based on that data, if they are relying on a visualization that omits or misrepresents the context of the findings.



Young students and grads invited to take part in Drucker Challenge essay contest


iSchool students and graduates are invited to take part in the 2017 Peter Drucker Challenge, an annual essay competition open to students (bachelor’s, master’s, MBA, and PhD) and young professionals (associates, managers, professionals, and community leaders) ages 18-35. This year’s topic is “human prosperity in a changing world,” and the submission deadline is July 15, 2017.

The Challenge honors Peter Drucker, an influential visionary in the world of business management; it was Drucker who developed the concept of “information workers.” Challenge winners will receive a cash prize of €1,000 and attend the Global Peter Drucker Forum in November in Vienna, Austria. Details can be found on the Drucker Challenge 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.


Jens-Erik Mai named new head of University of Copenhagen iSchool


Jens-Erik Mai will take on the position as Head of Department at the Royal School of Library and Information Science (RSLIS), Copenhagen, Denmark on Sept. 1st 2017. He has been full professor at the department since 2012, and was previously associate professor at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, where he also served as Vice Dean and Acting Dean. Prior to that he was a faculty member at the University of Washington Information School, where he also co-directed the Center for Human-Information Interaction. Jens-Erik Mai has an MLIS from RSLIS and a PhD from the Information School at the University of Texas in Austin.

Jens-Erik Mai will take over the position after Per Hasle, who has headed the RSLIS since 2008. During Per Hasle’s tenure, RSLIS has developed tremendously; most significantly, Per Hasle oversaw the successful merger of RSLIS with the University of Copenhagen in 2013. RSLIS is now one of eight departments at the University’s Faculty of Humanities, and a significant player in the Faculty’s digital initiatives, including the faculty-wide strategic efforts in the area of digital humanities.

Click here for more on the RSLIS website.