On the Passing of Fred Roper

I just learned that Fred Roper has passed away. Fred was a previous dean of the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina. When I joined as director in 2016, Fred was not only welcoming, but extremely generous with his time. He was an invaluable mentor in my first true administrative role.

We would have regular breakfasts to talk about the school, and he was always forthcoming with advice and learned experience. He always said he would never offer advice unless I asked…he mostly stuck to that. In the end his advice was always welcomed and sought after.

I leave it to others to write about his academic achievements, his love of Chapel Hill, his award winning baking abilities, and his deep caring. I can only remark on how I will miss our discussions and his giving nature. I send my deepest condolences to his spouse Jon, and to the entire South Carolina community. Today we lost a great one.

State libraries to explore strategic use of AI around workforce development

February 1, 2024

AUSTIN, TX—The Collaborative Institute for Rural Communities & Librarianship (CIRCL) today announced the launch of the SLAAIT Project. The State Libraries and AI Technologies Working Group is a joint project of 14 state libraries and the Gigabit Libraries Network to understand the opportunities, challenges, and risks associated with AI and the library sector.

“Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already profoundly changed the way people find information, communicate, produce media, and learn about the world. AI will continue to change work; from automation in manufacturing, to how energy is distributed across a smart grid, to the use of generative AI to produce marketing, the workforce of our states will change,” according to the SLAAIT web site.

Participating state library agencies to date are from: Texas, Georgia, Iowa, New Jersey, Colorado, Washington, Hawaii, Delaware, New York, North Carolina, Arizona, Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio. Participation remains open and more states are anticipated to join. “It feels like we are at another seminal crossroads in libraries and access to information,” says Jennifer Nelson, New Jersey State Librarian.

Following the release of a federal executive order in October, an increasing number of state governments are also proposing or implementing new regulations and guidelines for the use of AI. This is creating a demand for strategic response from the state library agencies. “We’re so appreciative of Don and David’s leadership to ensure that Delaware Libraries, and all libraries,
can continue to stay ahead of the curve as technology evolves!” says Dr. Annie Norman, State Librarian of Delaware.

More information on the project can be found at https://slaait.circl.community

Coordinated by The University of Texas at Austin, the Collaborative Institute for Rural Communities & Librarianship is a think tank by, for, and of the rural library community and aligned partners including universities, government agencies and companies. https://circl.community

Gretchen Pruett Named Bowden Fellow

Gretchen Pruett, director of the New Braunfels Public Library, and current president of the Texas Library Association is the newest Bowden Fellow. Pruett brings her deep experience in library leadership and her work through TxLA on intellectual freedom issues and through the her post on the Board of the Tocker Foundation, her knowledge of rural libraries.

Director Pruett will be advising the Bowden Professor on how to better connect and serve public libraries.

AI, the Next Chapter for College Librarians

I was quoted several times in a good piece on academic libraries and AI

“This does change things, but in a very good way,” said R. David Lankes, the Virginia and Charles Bowden Professor of Librarianship at the University of Texas at Austin. “Librarians, every decade or so, are getting good at dealing with an existential crisis of ‘Do we need librarians?’ But with this one they’ve been very open to embrace, discuss and analyze this.”

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/tech-innovation/libraries/2023/11/03/ai-marks-next-chapter-college-librarians?fbclid=IwAR2lbLRR2FU0qKH-It5zJMBoR_YrmUR6VRp2gWLZHp-7BGk-ChfkYvGfqvg

Lankes Named to Inaugural Research Leaders Academy

I’m proud to be part of this new program at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Congratulations to the inaugural cohort of the UT Research Leaders Academy! 15 researchers from 10 colleges were selected to participate. 

The academy is a partnership between OVPR and the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost (EVPP) to support UT researchers who aspire to lead, or are already leading, large-scale research initiatives. Participants will work closely with OVPR staff to learn how to scope a large-scale, shared scholarly vision with colleagues, how to secure external support to realize that shared vision, and how to successfully implement and manage their vision. 

We’re excited to partner with the Provost’s Office to help researchers develop their leadership skills! “

https://provost.utexas.edu/2023/08/21/2023-inaugural-members-of-the-aspiring-and-research-leaders-academies/

Jeff Penka named Bowden Advisor

Jeff Penka, President/CEO, LittleSeed, Inc. (https://littleseed.io) has been named as an advisor to the Bowden Professor joining Roosevelt Weeks, Angela Craig, Lorraine J. Haricombe, and Jim Neal. The informal advisory board gives the Bowden Professor advice, keeps him apprised of opportunities, and helps connect the work of the professorship to the greater library community.

Penka brings a background in library services, and extensive experience in entrepreneurship. His bio:

ENTREPRENEURIAL TECHNOLOGY LEADER
Strong innovative, executive leader and senior product management professional with over 20 years proven experience in:

  • characterizing market needs across a variety of industries and the consumer web
  • defining product vision, portfolio and product roadmaps, market introduction and launch plans
  • creating and managing web-based, multisided businesses
  • leading product development efforts and organizational process transformations
  • deploying and supporting information services globally

Offers a unique blend of exceptional communications, project and business management, product development, and technology expertise. Skilled in developing technology-based services, managing geographically distributed and matrixed teams, and leading organizational, cultural, process, and business transformations.

Specializing in lean business and product practices; utilizing outcomes-focused processes to rapidly validate and evolve market appropriate solutions.

Veteran public speaker, recognized author, trainer, and facilitator.

Margo Gustina Named Bowden Fellow

Margo Gustina is a researcher. An outspoken believer in the power of community to lead libraries toward more meaningful practice, Margo works with libraries, facilitating planning, funding, and governance conversations and processes. In addition, Margo is the Principal Investigator on the federally-funded Libraries In Community Systems project.

They will be working with the Bowden Professor on projects from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission around rural librarian certification, credentialing, and other related rural library projects.

2023 Bowden Capstone Scholars

I’m happy to announce the 2023 cohort of Bowden Capstone Scholars. Bowden Capstone Scholars receive a stipend for their capstone projects, connection to real projects in great libraries, and group mentoring on they field.

Here are the scholars and the organization they’re working with:

  • Tyler Roberge, Texas State Library and Archives Commission
  • Sarah James, Bowden Professor Rural Library Initiative
  • Parker Zimmerman, New Jersey State Library
  • Emma Bekele, Pottsboro Public Library
  • Melissa Deuber, Austin Community College Libraries
  • Rachel Poppen, Bowden Professor Rural Library Initiative

I’ll be posting more information on each scholar in other posts. As always, a big thank you to the family of Virginia and Charles Bowden for their generosity. The gift from Virginia and Charles is helping create strong connections between library science students and the profession.

Introducing Bowden Fellows

As the new year starts, so does a new program – Bowden Fellows. These are folks from practice and academia working closely with the Bowden Professor to push forward an agenda of improving libraries and library science education.

Kimberly Silk, Principal Consultant for Brightsail Research and Sessional Lecturer at the University of Toronto. Kim works with GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) sector organizations to help them adopt evaluation practices, develop metrics, and use data analysis to measure progress toward strategic goals, improve operations and demonstrate outcomes. Kim’s formal education includes a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English Literature from the University of Waterloo and a Master of Library Science from the University of Toronto. In 2020 she completed a Graduate Certificate in Evaluation from the School of Public Administration at the University of Victoria.

This spring Kim will be working with the Texas State Library and Archives around the use of data for assessment and ongoing services, and teaching a course in library evaluation for the University of Texas at Austin’s iSchool.

Susan Gregurek, Library Director Jarrell Community Library and Resource Center. Susan is the Library Director for Jarrell Community Library and Resource Center in Jarrell, Texas. The library is a new small rural non-profit library in a community experiencing exponential growth. Her past experiences as a retired K-8 educator, staff development trainer, Board of Director of an educational non-profit, and worked for a major textbook company has helped to prepare her for her new challenges expanding library resources, programs and activities for the diverse community of Jarrell.

This spring Susan will be working with students in building and managing the Jarrell Community Library.

Preparing Future iSchool Faculty in Librarianship: LADDER

Great news! I am part of a team headed by Dr. Soo Young Rieh and including Dr. Ken Fleischmann that just got funded by IMLS. The main goal of the project is to create future iSchool faculty highly skilled in data science and AI with a strong connection to the library field. 

One of the complaints I often here from librarians and library science students is that technically-oriented faculty don’t understand or have experience in librarianship. In this project, rather than “skilling up” library-oriented doc students, we’ll be “contexting-up” data folks with the context, values, and core strengths of librarianship. This is actually how I became attracted to libraries in my doctoral work. 

The grant is also a response to the concerns of library directors that faculty and students don’t get first hand learning in libraries.

Nine iSchool doctoral students will be selected as LADDER Fellows over three years and will be funded by the IMLS. Each year, the three PIs and three doctoral students will collaborate with librarians, rotating across three library contexts: Austin Public Library, Navarro High School Library, and UT libraries. Another aspect of this grant is that LADDER Fellows will be asked to form a doctoral committee like other doctoral students will do. What’s unique here is that each committee member takes a specific mentoring role: a research mentor, a professional engagement mentor, and a teaching mentor. The collaborative mentoring is designed to provide a triangulated educational experience for doctoral students so they will grow to be strong researchers and capable educators who understand the importance of applying their knowledge to authentic library contexts.

Keep an eye out for cohort recruitment!

http://www.imls.gov/news/imls-announces-21-million-investment-us-library-and-archive-initiatives