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New iSchools Research Blog Post Examines the Role of Serendipity in Legal Work


The newest installment of the iSchools Research Blog explores the fascinating role that serendipity can play in legal research and practice.

Written by lawyer and doctoral candidate Yosef Solomon of the Department of Information Science at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, the post is titled Exploring serendipity: Information encounters and their practical legal impact. It examines “super-encounters” by family-law attorneys who reported accidental, unexpected encounters as a successful way of obtaining professional information. Knowing this, practical measures can be taken in an effort to increase chances for serendipity to occur.

Solomon’s post exemplifies the intriguing and high-quality research being done by young and emerging scholars throughout the iSchools’ worldwide organization. The iSchools research blog was introduced in autumn 2017 to showcase this ongoing and amazing work. Recent posts have also examined Emotion Detection in Microblog Text, Social Trust in Internet Infrastructure, and Design Education in Librarianship.

The iSchools encourage the submission of research blog proposals from young scholars at its member schools. Prospective authors can use the proposal submission form on the iSchools website to submit their research for consideration by the editorial board.


iConference Workshops offer something for everyone


The organizers of iConference 2018 are pleased to offer 10 thought-provoking workshops scheduled for Sunday, March 25, 2018. This year’s topics reflect the interdisciplinary nature of our field, as summarized below. Participation in workshops is included with your conference fee, and participants will be asked to select their workshop(s) when they register for the conference.

Each of the 2018 workshops listed below is linked to its full description and list of organizers. Note that some organizers are requesting advance submissions from participants. See our Workshop page for full details.

Morning Workshops

Afternoon Workshops

iConference 2018 takes place March 25-28, 2018 in Sheffield, UK. Discounted early registration rates are available through Jan. 19, 2018. More information on travel, lodging, and visas and letters of invitation can be found in our Venue section.

The theme of this, our thirteenth annual gathering of scholars, researchers and professionals, is “Transforming Digital Worlds.” The complete program schedule will be posted later in December. The conference is co-organized by University of Sheffield’s Information School and the iSchool at Northumbria, and presented by iSchools Inc.


Registration Opens for iConference 2018


Registration is now open for iConference 2018, with discounted rates available through Jan. 19, 2018. iConference 2018 will take place in Sheffield, UK, March 25-28.

The 2018 theme is Transforming Digital Worlds. The conference chairs have just finished the most competitive review process in iConference history, with 30% of completed research papers accepted for presentation. The conference will also present preliminary papers, workshops, interactive sessions, posters, early career colloquium, and three keynote presentations by Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Luciano Floridi and Susan Dumais.

The early registration rate is £360 ($427 USD) and £270 ($355) for students. This year’s registration includes lunch on all conference days, as well as coffee breaks, the opening reception on March 25, and banquet dinner on March 27. Combined, the 2018 rates represent the best overall iConference registration value in many years.

Visit the conference website today for more information on registration, booking accommodation in Sheffield, travel, and visa information. The program schedule will be posted in December.

iConference 2018 is jointly organized by the University of Sheffield’s Information School and the iSchool at Northumbria. The iConference is presented each year by the iSchools organization, and iConference 2018 marks the thirteenth conference in this annual series. Click here for summaries of past conferences and links to proceedings.


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.


Drexel University Metadata Research Center Receives Funding to Advance LIS Doctoral Education in Data Science


The Metadata Research Center at Drexel University’s College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) has been awarded $313,269.00 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program to advance LIS doctoral education in data science. The project, LIS Education and Data Science-for-the National Digital Platform (LEADS-4-NDP), is being led by PIs Jane Greenberg, PhD (Alice B. Kroeger Professor and Associate Department Head for Graduate Affairs) and Xia Lin, PhD (Information Science Professor and Department Head), along with CoPIs Professor Il-Yeol Song, PhD and Associate Professor Weimeo Ke, PhD.

LEADS-4-NDP will provide stipends for 18 library and information science doctoral students across the country who will complete an online preparatory curriculum, an intensive three-day data science boot camp at Drexel University, and a ten-week immersive data science research experience. The participants will work with our LEADS project partners, including Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), Smithsonian, California Digital Library (CDL), Digital Curation Innovation Center (DCIC), University of Maryland, Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP), Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), Philadelphia Free Public Library, and University of Pennsylvania Libraries. A team of mentors and internationally recognized data and library science experts will also help guide the LEADS-4-NDP initiative.

“Increasingly, we see LIS graduates with data science skills seeking employment in the tech industry. Although attractive salaries are part of the draw, LIS graduates with data skills may not pursue libraries simply because they lack exposure to the value proposition of data science in the library domain,” Greenberg explained. “We need to provide infrastructure along with education, so future faculty and graduates alike can see the application of predictive analytics and other data science methods for services and operations in libraries, museums, and other aspects of the National Digital Platform,” she said.

“The LEADS-4-NDP program will address this need, and allow Drexel University to share our expertise in data science with LIS programs by teaching future faculty, and making lesson plans and other resources open and accessible beyond the immediate LEADS program,” added Lin.

This program will differ from other data science initiatives in that it aims to teach students to apply data science methods, frameworks, processes, and tools to the NDP. The goal is to prepare the next generation of LIS faculty so that they may bring data science knowledge and skills, in a meaningful way, into LIS education. LEADS-4-NDP will develop a template for educating library data scientists, while also readying this first cohort to serve as educators and leaders in libraries and archives.

Click here for more on the Drexel 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.


Singapore Management University and Tata Consultancy Services renew SMU-TCS iCity Lab Partnership


The SMU-TCS iCity Lab have announced that Singapore Management
University (SMU) and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) have extended their
partnership for another three years until 2020 to focus on new
initiatives in research and development. The ongoing partnership,
launched in 2011 and renewed for a second time, will enhance and broaden
multi-disciplinary academic research efforts in digital technology to
create innovative, technology-enabled solutions to emerging urban

TCS will invest a total of $1.5 million over the next three years in
developing intelligent infrastructure, software and applications. SMU
will leverage on its capabilities to generate leading-edge research and
strategic linkages with business, government and the wider community to
enable the most relevant and contextual ecosystem to deploy the
technology solutions.

The extension of the partnership in SMU-TCS iCity Lab comes on the heels
of a very successful pilot project in elderly-care that set a new
paradigm in personalized, sustainable and tech-enabled care for senior
citizens in Singapore. The pilot project named SHINESeniors, under a
Singapore Government grant, was launched in 2014 to test run
technologies for ageing-in-place in 100 elderly homes. It proved to be a
highly successful experiment in innovative use of IoT technology to
enable the elderly to age-in-place in Singapore.

With the renewed partnership, SMU-TCS iCity Lab will:

  • Deepen and broaden capabilities of an IoT-enabled preventive care and
    self-care ecosystem, including new citizen segments.
  • Explore how citizens can participate as consumer and producer of
    services to create a sustainable city, aligned with its vision of
    citizen-centric intelligent cities.
  • Look at novel and viable business models, partnership models, care
    models and large scale deployments, using technologies such as AI and
    Machine Learning as necessary.

Visit SMU’s iCity Lab website to learn more.


“Online Information Review” issues new call for papers


Online Information Review, an international, ISI listed journal published by the University of Sheffield iSchool, has just announced the following three Calls For Papers for Special issues:

Social Media Mining for Journalism:

Lifelogging Behaviour and Practice:

Open-access mega-journals: Continuity and innovation in scholarly communication:

Online Information Review is edited by Jo Bates, Andrew Cox, Robert Jaschke and Angela Lin from the Sheffield Information School. Lean more


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.


Carnegie Mellon iSchool Dean Named President of INFORMS


Carnegie Mellon University iSchool Dean Ramayya Krishnan has been elected as the 25th president of the board of directors of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, known as INFORMS. Dr. Krishnan will begin his three-year term in January of 2018.

According to a report on the INFORMS website, Dr. Krishnan will work closely with both the INFORMS Board of Directors and the INFORMS staff to build deeper partnerships between academia, industry, and government, with the goal of facilitating greater research, development, and deployment in the fields of operations research, analytics, and the management sciences. 

The iSchools organization envisions a future in which the iSchool movement has spread around the world, and the information field is widely recognized for creating innovative systems and designing information solutions that benefit individuals, organizations, and society. Dr. Krishnan’s appointment is an example of the critical role iSchools leaders play in realizing this vision, and shaping the future of the information field.