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The Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyzstan) is making strides in addressing the country’s historically low K-12 school attendance through the implementation of a multi-year education development strategy that focuses on education quality. However, many of the underlying causes of low school attendance by Kyrgyz youth do not have immediate solutions, such as poverty, disabilities, and remote rural locations.
The University of Maryland College of Information Studies (UMD iSchool) is helping Kyrgyzstan find solutions to these access-to-education challenges by leveraging a perhaps unlikely resource - the country’s public libraries.
Dr. Mega Subramaniam, a Fulbright Specialist from the UMD iSchool and internationally renowned youth library programming expert, visited Kyrgyzstan this past spring to provide support to the National Children’s Library of Kyrgyzstan in leveraging local public libraries to help address educational disparities among Kyrgyz youth, particularly in impoverished and remote communities.
Kyrgyz libraries are working hard to develop programs for early-childhood education, education for youth with disabilities and their caregivers, family learning, youth digital skills development, and much more. While they are making great strides, they have run into barriers with inadequate space, funds, and training for staff.
Dr. Subramaniam, with expertise in developing youth programming in the United States (US) for libraries and communities faced with similar challenges, introduced concepts of design thinking and connected learning that require minimal resources while also building capacity. For instance, leveraging youth peer mentors, implementing digital literacy and STEM learning tools that require little funding, space, or staff supervision, and leveraging partnerships with local communities and industries to help engage youth in the library programs.
Dr. Subramaniam illustrated implementation of these concepts through examples of her work with US libraries to support marginalized youth. For instance, a partnership between the Providence Public Library and Nordstrom to teach youth about merchandising and marketing – and a Washington DC Public Library computational thinking program for children and their families that does not require using any technology tools. She was also interested to learn about some of the extremely innovative ways that Kyrgyz libraries are already leveraging resources, such as a partnership with a brewery that helps fund the rental of athletic fields throughout one city. She found that youth in the impacted communities are so inspired by the role libraries are playing, or are beginning to play, that there is a surge of interest in librarianship careers.
Dr. Subramaniam is currently developing a study abroad program so that UMD students can visit Kyrgyzstan and experience first-hand how these libraries are doing a lot with so little, and also provide assistance to the libraries in designing, implementing, and evaluating youth programs.
Read this story in its entirety on the UMD iSchool website.
University of Illinois Provost Andreas C. Cangellaris has announced the appointment of Dr. Eunice E. Santos as dean of the School of Information Sciences, effective August 16, 2019, pending approval by the University’s Board of Trustees.
Santos currently serves as the Ron Hochsprung Endowed Chair and Professor, and department chair of computer science, at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. She is an accomplished scholar and researcher whose expertise includes computational social science, with an appreciation for the social and human aspects of the information sciences. Her recent research focuses on using computationally intensive methods to understand the behavior of social networks and communities. This work has led to insights related to community resilience, disaster response, and belief and opinion change.
“As a member of the search committee, I was very impressed with Dr. Santos and her vision for the iSchool as a leader both among colleges at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and among our peer schools nationally and internationally,” said Professor Emerita Linda Smith, former Illinois iSchool executive associate dean. “Just as our School’s founder Katharine Sharp came from the Armour Institute (predecessor of Illinois Tech) to establish a pioneering library science program at Illinois, Dr. Santos’ appointment as iSchool dean promises to sustain our leadership into the twenty-first century.”
Santos takes over the leadership role from Dean Allen Renear, who has been an instrumental leader in the iSchools Organization for many years. Renear will return to a faculty role at the Illinois iSchool.
Santos will bring an impressive professional portfolio to the Illinois iSchool, with successful experience in strategic planning, academic program development, and community outreach initiatives. She will continue the School’s excellence in educating information professionals and advancing the broad application of information and technology in science, liberal arts, society, and other sectors. Her commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion will reinforce the values of librarianship that serve as the iSchool’s foundation.
At Illinois Tech, Santos focuses on growth, leadership, and partnership. Her accomplishments include furthering robust research programs and curricula in a multidisciplinary environment; supporting diverse groups of faculty by providing mentoring and service opportunities; and acting as an influential voice for her department, which has led to the awarding of external funding from agencies, foundations, and donors.
The appointment of Santos marks the only woman to currently serve as dean among schools ranked in the top ten for library and information studies by U.S. News & World Report.
“This is an extremely exciting opportunity for our School to further advance our global leadership in the information sciences and more fully realize our mission in the world. Dr. Santos is an inventive, committed scholar and an exceptionally creative and entrepreneurial academic leader; there is no one better prepared to lead our rapidly growing School and ensure that we engage the challenges that face our society,” said Dean and Professor Allen Renear.
Santos was selected by a search committee with strong representation from the iSchool. Members included Professor James D. Anderson, dean of the College of Education and committee chair; Heather Clay, executive director of advancement in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement; and the following iSchool individuals: Professor Emerita Linda C. Smith (MS ’72); Professor and Associate Dean for Research J. Stephen Downie; Associate Professor and PhD Program Director Jana Diesner; Associate Professor and BS/IS Program Director Emily Knox (MS ’03); Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Meg Edwards (MS ’04); and Kirstin Phelps (iSchool doctoral candidate).
This story can be read in its entirety on the Illinois iSchool website.
The Department of Library, Information and Archives (DLIA) at Shanghai University has joined the iSchools organization. Shanghai’s application was approved by the iSchools board in July of 2019, and is now a full member of the iSchools association of more than 100 leading information schools worldwide.
Located in Shanghai, China, the Shanghai University DLIA was founded in 1978. While it initially had only an undergraduate program, the school has since added master’s and Ph.D. programs. Today the school has 35 permanent professors, 120 undergraduate students, 250 master’s students, and 24 Ph.D. candidates. The school is headed by Professor Bo Jin.
The Shanghai iSchool’s significant research areas include the following: Cultural Heritage and Digital Memory; Competitive Intelligence; Archive Information; Digital Humanities; and Data Science.
The Shanghai iSchool has initially opted to support the iSchools at the Basic level. The iSchools have five levels of membership ranging from Basic up to iCaucus, and each member school is encouraged to select the level that best reflects their circumstances and support for the organization.
The iSchools organization is pleased to announce that the Kyushu University Graduate School of Integrated Frontier Sciences is now recognized as a full member of the organization at the Basic level. The Kyushu iSchool first joined the iSchools association of more than 100 information schools in 2018 as an Associate member, and the school recently petitioned the iSchools board of directors for full membership. That request was granted in early July of 2019.
The Kyushu iSchool is located in Fukuoka, Japan and is headed by Dean Professsor Kazunori Shidoji; the school’s iSchools representative is Dr. Emi Ishita.
The iSchools Associate level is for schools that are new or may not meet the requirements for other levels. Associate members are invited to petition for full membership when their circumstances so warrant. Once full membership is granted, each iSchool may choose the membership level that it feels best represents their relationship with the organization.
The School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign seeks nominations for the Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award. The deadline for nominations is October 5, 2019.
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.
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.
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 2019 Downs Intellectual Freedom Award will take place on January 25, 2020, during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.
Previous winners have included the Iowa Library Association (2018) for taking a leadership role in several highly visible challenges to intellectual freedom; The Kansas City Public Library (2017) for its defense of library patron’s First Amendment rights; Wendy Campbell (2016) for her work in increasing cultural awareness in her community; HP Kids Read (2015) for its work in support of freedom to read at the Highland Park (TX) High School; the staff and board of trustees of the Orland Park (IL) Public Library (2014) for the defense of their policy to not filter adult Internet access in the library; and DaNae Leu (2013) for her efforts to keep a controversial picture book on the shelves of her elementary school library.
More information and nomination instructions can be found on the Award website.
iConference 2020 is now accepting submissions to all conference tracks, including full and short research papers, visions papers, posters and much more. Visit the conference website for track-specific details and begin planning your submission. The papers deadline is Sept. 16, with other deadlines in the following weeks. Submissions can be made on our secure submissions website.
iConference 2020 will take place March 23-26, 2020 in Borås, Sweden. Jointly hosted by the University of Borås and Oslo Metropolitan University (Norway) and presented by the iSchools, this is the 15th event in the annual iConference series.
The 2020 organizers invite papers on all current critical information issues; contributions within the 2020 conference theme of Sustainable Digital Communities are particularly encouraged. Participants are invited to discuss sustainability from ethical, social, ecological, economic and technological perspectives. This includes trusting communities, equality, openness, privacy, cultural heritage and access to digital worlds.
All information scholars, researchers and practitioners are welcome to make submissions and participate at the iConference, whether they are with a member-school or elsewhere; affiliation with the iSchools organization is not required.
Visit the iConference website for more information, and follow the conference on Facebook and Twitter, #iconf2020. Participant registration will open in mid-November.
The University of Cincinnati School of Information Technology has joined the iSchools organization as an Associate member. The iSchools welcome this latest addition to our organization of more than 100 schools dedicated to advancing the information field worldwide.
Cincinnati’s School of Information Technology (SoIT) is headed by Professor & Director Hazem Said. It was formed in 2006 (then known as the Department of Information Technology). Initially focused on ungraduated engineering technology, the school added a Master of Science in Information Technology program in the fall of 2015 which is currently ranked 11th in the nation by US News and World Report. Meanwhile, its Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology was recently ranked 5th in the nation by CyberDegrees.com.
SoIT received state authorization for a Ph.D. program in January 2019, and the inaugural cohort will start in Fall 2019.
The Human-Computer Interaction lab (HCIL) at the University of Maryland iSchool has launched a new blog site, Sparks of Innovation: Stories from the HCIL. The site features stories of research, events, and activities at the lab, showcasing its history of transforming the experience people have with new technologies.
The new HCIL blog site is published by editors Niklas Elmqvist, associate professor and HCIL director; Catherine Plaisant, senior research scientist; Ben Shneiderman, HCIL member; and a team of writers.
Click here for the full UMD news story, and click here to visit the HCIL blog site.
If quiz-show host Alex Trebek had asked the iSchools, we would have told him that librarians not only know the answers, they know the questions as well. But to all appearances Trebek has figured this out on his own: The New York Times is reporting that Chicago librarian Emma Boettcher has won Trebek’s popular quiz-show Jeopardy. In the episode airing June 3, 2019, Boettcher successfully provided all the answers (in the form of a question) needed to defeat long-time defending champion James Holzhauer.
Holzhauer has become something of a media phenomenon during his 33-show reign as Jeopardy champion. The 33-year-old professional sports better used his gambling moxie to dominate competitors and rack up $2.5 million in prize money.
The Chicago Tribune reports that 27-year-old Boettcher is a user experience resident librarian at the University of Chicago. She received her master’s degree in information science in 2016 from the iSchool at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her master’s paper was titled, “Predicting the Difficulty of Trivia Questions Using Text Features.” The UNC iSchool is an iSchools member at the iCaucus level.
In an article titled “Trends in Accreditation” that appears in the May 2019 issue of American Libraries magazine, author Terry Weech explores the growth of the iSchool movement, and how he feels it has contributed in-part to pressure on the American Library Association Committee on Accreditation to expand its accreditation standards beyond librarianship.
The iSchools organization extends its appreciation to Dr. Weech. The organization welcomes discussion of the iSchools organization, and the roles our members play in the ever-evolving information field. As iSchools Executive Director Michael Seadle is quoted as saying, “The growth of the international iSchools group and the broadened definition of information science represent defining trends because they cut across disciplinary and national boundaries.”
However, Weeks draws an inference about our organization that could be misleading. He states the following: “In 2019, the iSchools membership directorylists 101 institutions worldwide, but fewer than 40 have ALA-accredited programs. The iSchools represent a population of schools in information studies in which LIS programs are a minority.”
To clarify, the iSchools are an international organization. The majority of our members are outside North America, and their LIS programs are thus not eligible for accreditation by ALA. If you consider only our eligible North American member-schools, a significant majority of that subset have ALA accredited programs.
In addition, a significant majority of our international membership have LIS programs; it’s just that these programs are not eligible to seek ALA accreditation due to their geographic location. They are nevertheless meaningful and vibrant programs. When taken as a whole, LIS programs are by no means “a minority” among the iSchools—in fact, these program represent a significant point of commonality across the iSchools’ membership.
The iSchool movement began several decades ago in the United States when a number of schools that were offering degrees in the library and information sciences realized that their teaching and research programs had capacity to reach a broader audience of students and also prepare professionals for work beyond libraries.
The iSchools organization now includes more than 100 schools from all parts of the world. Scholars and researchers in iSchools are focusing their attention on enhancing the lives of people, the productivity of companies, the innovation cycles of industries, the design of technologies, the policies that govern technology and information use, information services to communities, and much more.
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