Hearst awards major grant to College of Information and Communications

Hearst awards major grant to College of Information and Communications
Posted July 5, 2017
by Rebekah Friedman
Photo: Students, faculty and staff participate in South Carolina’s “Read-In” at the State House.

The College of Information and Communications has received a $100,000 Hearst Foundations grant to strengthen South Carolina communities through comprehensive literacy efforts.

The grant will fund the Community Based Literacy Initiative, a partnership between the South Carolina Center for Children’s Books and Literacy (SCCCBL) and USC’s College of Education. The initiative builds upon work already being done by Cocky’s Reading Express, SCCCBL’s statewide outreach program.
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Help Enhance South Carolina’s Emergency Response for Persons with Disabilities During and After a Crisis

Hurricane Matthew Survivors with Disabilities

Are you a survivor of Hurricane Matthew with a disability living in South Carolina?

If so, The University of South Carolina needs your input regarding your experiences during the Hurricane Matthew and the subsequent flooding. The information collected will not be identifiable and will be used to enhance South Carolina’s emergency response services for persons with disabilities during and after a crisis.

COMPLETE SURVEY HERE: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SCHurricaneDisability

If you have any questions or if you would like assistance (ie. have the survey read to you, alternative format, etc.) completing the survey, please contact Dr. Robert Dawson at 803-386-1711 or email at crisisawareness@gmail.com.

Fear of the Dark: Crafting a Security Narrative in Libraries

[tl;dr version: Rather than simply fight the current false dichotomy of security versus freedom, librarians should craft an alternative narrative around security through knowledge.]

We fear the unknown. It is a truism from fairy tales to military strategy. The other, the alien, the undefined sets people on edge. It is also apparent in the recent reaction to the Paris attacks and the attacks in Africa and the Middle East. It is leading to a dangerous and misguided narrative around migrants and Muslims.

For some this is a narrative built on racism. For some it is clearly fear-mongering for political gain. It ignores the facts (such as 18-24 month background checks-more review than any other entry point into our nation) and frankly ugly truths (a clear bias of one religious affiliation over another).

However while the “fear the Muslim” narrative is abhorrent and must be challenged for the good of the soul of this nation, I want to talk about a parallel narrative. It is one that librarians can have a powerful role in countering and in crafting an alternative narrative that ensures the values we hold as a profession. We must directly challenge the narrative of freedom versus security.

The security narrative flattens the complexity of preventing harm to citizens as a choice: give up some freedoms to ensure security. Give us (the government) your private information, your freedom of transport and right to assemble and we will take care of you. These freedoms, so goes the argument, are not really losses since if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. The narrative is a false dichotomy: it is either freedom or security.

The primary flaw in this narrative is the belief that security ONLY comes from restrictions of rights and freedoms. This is a misguided as the racist and reactionary belief that terrorism only comes from the Muslim faith, ignoring both the overwhelming number of Muslims that condemn violence and the terrorism perpetrated by Christians and other religions. Terrorism has nothing to do with a love of God, but of a hatred of our fellow man.

Librarians must craft a narrative of security through knowledge. Every day I work amongst Muslims and Buddhists, Christians and Jews, atheists and deists and I’m sure a bit of Wicca thrown in as well. I stand shoulder to shoulder with a diverse body of faculty staff and students every day. A large portion of our student body comes from India and China. We have students from the Middle East and the former Soviet Block. I stand without fear because we are all a part of a common community bound around knowledge.

Many will rightfully point out that this is a privileged community. In essence I stand with people able to afford and have access to higher education. It is a fair point. So I ask, instead of this invalidating my point, why not ensure equitable access to knowledge and learning to all as a way of countering hate, and insecurity.

Our libraries – school, academic, public, special, all libraries – should be platforms where communities can come together to learn, and learn side by side. Libraries should craft a narrative that says the most secure societies are ones that learn together. Stop watching who I call or what I buy, and start helping me to learn. Give me a stake in opportunity (in this nation and beyond), give me something to lose

Neighborhood watches shouldn’t be citizens looking out for strangers, but libraries working to introduce strangers and transform them into allies. Librarians can’t simply fight the surveillance state, they must model an alternative where openness of debate and ideas brings security. As librarians we shouldn’t be seen as simply obstructing the work of security, we should be seen as pillars of security through knowledge, learning, and community engagement. Library cards instead of ID cards. Databases of articles instead of databases of Muslims. In times of crisis libraries are places of refuge AND places that fight disinformation and paranoia with facts and research.

This is a constructive narrative that transcends political point of view or party. It is a narrative that says to our communities (towns, colleges, schools) we are keeping you safe by making you smarter. Dispelling the unknown, the dark woods, the other, the alien is a click and visit away. We are havens not to escape misinformation and fear, but havens from ignorance where you can embrace your fellow community members and build a strong diverse community.

I’m Looking for Doctoral Students

Come study with me…come help me change the world. Below is the recruitment announcement for Syracuse’s Ph.D. program. I am looking for good folks to come and work with me. It is increasingly vital that we have information scientists and new faculty in the field. Let me know if you are interested. I’d love to talk.


Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies welcomes applicants for our doctoral program. Admitted students are assured of at least four year’s funding (including summers) along with tuition and other support.

The interdisciplinary nature of our program is visible through the backgrounds of the 30 current doctoral students.  These students hail from ten countries and have academic training in the social sciences, communications, business, computer science, librarianship, linguistics, information science, and others areas.   Our doctoral program is a welcoming and inclusive place for scholars from under-represented populations, something we see as a defining element of our program.

Doctoral students pursue individualized course plans that are tuned to their particular research interests and needs.  This means advising and, more importantly, close working relationships with faculty members is a cornerstone of the Syracuse University iSchool Ph.D. program. This is why it is both residential and full-time.

We celebrate the success of our recent graduates who are taking up tenure-track positions in premier research institutions and exceptional liberal arts colleges, excelling in academic and policy think tanks, and pursuing entrepreneurial success! Current students are earning awards for their publications and dissertation work, continuing a long tradition of such recognition.

For 2016, we are particularly interested in speaking with applicants and seeing applications from those whose interests align with one or more of the following research areas

  • Text and data mining, Natural Language Processing and Information Retrieval
  • Computational social science, visualization, and data analytics
  • Agent-based modeling
  • Information policy, Internet governance, and telecommunications policy
  • Librarianship
  • Mobile computing
  • Data infrastructure and services in support of research
  • Organizational impacts of ICTs (e.g., Citizen Science, FLOSS, Wikipedia, mobile work, distributed scientific collaboration, and infrastructure studies)
  • Information security and privacy
  • Social computing, social media, social networks, and crowdsourcing
  • Wireless telecommunications policy and telecommunication service markets

You can learn more about the Syracuse iSchool faculty and interests at https://ischool.syr.edu/research/faculty-research-areas/

You can learn more about the doctoral program and application (due 3 January, 2016) at https://ischool.syr.edu/academics/graduate/doctoral/information-science-and-technology/

Please reach out to the faculty member whose interests draw you forward, the program director, Steve Sawyer, at ssawyer@syr.edu , or our program manager, Jennifer Barclay, at istphd@syr.edu with questions!

IMLS Funds Community Profile System

16826031270_745f4698b7_oWe’re aiming to take “The Community is the Collection” from slogan to reality with a new National Leadership Grant from IMLS.

Co-PIs: Yun Huang, R. David Lankes, Jian Qin

Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) is partnering with Coulter Library at Onondaga Community College (OCC) and Fayetteville Free Library (FFL – an Onondaga county public library) to respond to the National Leadership Grants for Libraries (NLG) Program, addressing IMLS’s Learning Spaces in Libraries priority. This project can best be summarized as: the community is the collection. We propose to design a Community Profile System to expand library collections to include human expertise, particularly in the STEM fields. This system will enable librarians to collect communities’ learning needs, identify relevant community experts, and link the resources to serve the learning needs in a cost-efficient manner. This 3-year project will accomplish four activities: 1) assess community members’ learning needs and identify community experts’ interests and their availability in participating different libraries’ services through survey and interview studies; 2) build data models that capture the various needs and dynamic people resources as collection; 3) develop a workflow by identifying librarians’ roles in data collection, organization, and validation; 4) prototype and implement the system with user interactions and privacy protection features, as well as evaluate the system prototype via a system pilot study and diverse test cases.

Link to IMLS Announcement

Join the Expect More Collaboratory

Four Years ago I wrote Expect More: Demanding Better Libraries For Today’s Complex World to start a conversation between librarians and the communities they serve. Since that time thousands have used the book to start conversations, teach students, do board development, and even shape director and dean searches. The time has come to take Expect More to the next step: The Expect More Collaboratory.

This is a call to join partners in expanding Expect More into a comprehensive and expanding set of community building resources. These resources will include online learning events for library decision makers, a physical and digital workbook, and an ongoing series of engagements to advocate for greater community focus and involvement in libraries. The Expect More Collaboratory will deliver a multimedia web-based curriculum for use by librarians with boards, principals, provosts, and communities.

So consider this a call for crowd sourcing. Please help in preparing our communities for better libraries. I’ve put together a site for more information and a brief video call for participation.

Expect More Collaboratory (http://www.ExpectMoreLibrary.com)*

 

*Please note this used to point to the Expect More World Tour, and you may need to refresh your browser. The direct link is https://davidlankes.org/?page_id=7974

 

Keynotes From ILEAD USA March

My favorite professional development project started a new cohort (in 10 different states) in March. Below are links to just the keynotes from that session. All are awesome and well worth your time (with the exception of that Lankes character who talks too much).

Everything You Learned in Library School is Wrong 

David Lankes, Syracuse University, School of Information Studies, Syracuse, New York.  Professor and Dean’s Scholar on New Librarianship

We all know that Libraries are Good and Necessary Things and Libraries Collect, Organize, and Provide Access to Information. That’s what we were taught in library school right? Except of course, they don’t. Libraries don’t do anything except exert gravity and shield you from the rain. It is librarians and the people in the library that makes the world a better place. Collections are just tools, like buildings, and books, and databases, and 3D printers. This keynote will focus on how librarians are radical positive change agents that make communities better.

Inspired Outreach Inspired 

John Emerson, an activist, graphic designer, writer, and programmer based in New York City creator of  http://backspace.com/notes

How do you engage the hearts and minds of your audience? Connect and empower with outreach that makes people say “Aha!” and “Let’s do it!”

FLATLAND:  A Statistical Romance of Many Dimensions.

Eli Neiburger, Associate Director, IT and Production, Ann Arbor District 

In which our Hero, A. Librarian, must search for scalars amidst an increasingly flat landscape, with which to earn the favor of capricious higher-dimensional beings, before her entire world collapses to a single ultradense font of information, only to find that the only dimension that truly matters is   LOVE.

Perspectives and Advice on Accessibility and Universal Design

Sina Bahram, an accessibility consultant, researcher, and entrepreneur

Join Sina Bahram as he walks through the concepts of accessibility and universal design. These core principles are fundamental to understanding how to be relevant in the 21st century to all audiences regardless of physical or cognitive ability. Through exploring a narrative about technology, access to information and the physical world, and practical tips and tricks about steps any of us can take, Sina will both motivate and show us how to augment our content, interactions, and thinking to become more inclusive.

“Great People Make Great Libraries:  Know Yourself.  Grow Yourself.  And Take Your Library With You!”

David Bendekovic, President, The B. A. David Company, Syracuse, New York  

Your ability to reach your goals has as much to do with how you choose to see the world as it does with your level of education and intelligence.  This keynote will give you the keys to thinking in a more powerful way about yourself, the people around you, and the work you want to get done. What You Do Makes A Difference. You Just Have To Figure Out What Kind Of Difference You Want To Make.

Announcing a Series of Radical Conversations

The announcement of the Radical’ Guide to New Librarianship has prompted a lot of interest, including folks asking how they can help. Well, here you go. We need your input, stories, and ideas.

There are several new topics we’re working on for The Radical’s Guide: notably libraries as institutions, the role of collections, and a deeper understanding of the concept of community. We are seeking input from the library community on these topics. To facilitate this input, we’ve set up a series of online and in-person conversations. Each question consists of a brief introduction to the topic and mechanisms for community input.

Here is the link to the conversations with more information on the questions:

https://davidlankes.org/?page_id=6461

As you will see rather than just posting a bunch of questions, we’ve structured them in topic and time. So we’ll be rolling the questions out over the next two months concluding in an in-person gathering at the ALA MidWinter Conference in Chicago. Here is the schedule:

How Do We Define a Library?

Dates: December 8-12, 2014

What is the Role of Fiction and Storytelling in Knowledge Development

Dates: December 15-19, 2014

What is The Value of a Collection?

Dates: January 5-9, 2015

What is the Definition of a Community?

Dates: January 12-16, 2015

Community Gathering at ALA MidWinter

Date: February 2, 2015

Please (please please please) join the conversation on the web and through Twitter. If you see a future conversation you’d like to join me for a Skype conversation starter, please let me know rdlankes@iis.syr.edu.

Also, please let us know if you are interested in attending the MidWinter session:

[yop_poll id=”3″]

On Productivity: Introducing a Blog Series on Reinventing the Academic Library

[Today, and over the next two days, I will be posting ideas related to Reinventing the Academic Library focusing on public services in supporting research-oriented universities. I believe these ideas have currency in different types of libraries, but for this series I wanted to be more tightly focused. I begin this series with some thoughts on a key mission of research libraries: scholarly communication. It will be followed by a series of mini-proposals for new services. The goal is not some mass implementation of specific projects, but rather to stir up conversation around the mission of the academic library.]

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Being Quite Prolific

A faculty colleague at another institution remarked that I was “quite prolific.” My first reaction was to disagree. I am surrounded by highly productive colleagues that regularly speak, publish books and journal articles, and push forward on grants so I may be used to some intimidating productivity. However, and I apologize in advance for the bragging, I looked at my year, and I can’t disagree. In the past year I have:

  • Published an audio book based on a previous self published book (Expect More)
  • Published a new book (Boring Patient) and an accompanying audio book
  • Released Expect More as a free download (leading to over 7 thousand downloads)
  • Signed a new book contract with MIT Press
  • Taught a MOOC for 600 people
  • Helped organize an intensive continuing education program for 10 states
  • Won a new IMLS grant
  • Gave 10 presentations including 1 international

Oh, and that was through ablative chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant and on top of blogging and my normal teaching load (but not my service load – bless you fellow faculty). To be sure I am pushing out a lot of blog posts this week to clear the decks for major work on my new book (more on that Friday).

So, not bad. However, if you begin to poke at that record something very interesting emerges. All the books published (audio and written) were self-published. Of those 10 presentations, 6 were given online, and only 2 in an academic venue. Don’t get me wrong. Each of these took time and effort, but not the same effort of a journal publication. Also, the production length of each is MUCH shorter than traditional academic publication.

The Audio books were produced in three weeks. The Boring Patient was drafted in two months. The presentations were normally put together in a few hours a week before the event. Compare this to say the production of The Atlas of New Librarianship. It took over a year to write, and then 13 months to produce through MIT Press (from submission of the manuscript to printing).

Also, the nature of the work is very different. The ideas in these pieces are often formative. That is, I am putting ideas out for consideration and discussion at a much earlier stage. In essence, my presentations are what I am thinking about now, not summative presentations on previous work. Rather than finishing a work and then submitting it to peer review, I am throwing out ideas for peer discussion, and then adapting and adopting.

My point here is that while in numbers it looks like I am more productive, what is really happening is that my production is more representative of the entire scholarly process, not just finished research. Those presentations turn into blog posts, turn into book chapters, turn into grant proposals. Instead of just publishing the chapters, you are seeing all of it.

Now a good part of this is a factor of being a tenured full professor. I have the liberty to publish in alternative venues than peer reviewed journals. I have the liberty to experiment with self-publishing. But a good part of it is a new affordance of technology – scholarly conversations can happen online in fast forward.

Scholarship in Fast Forward

This became very obvious in a recent interchange between Lane Wilkinson and nina de jesus on libraries, institutionalized oppression, and the Age of Enlightenment. What struck me about this discussion was: the topic, the depth of reasoning in the pieces, and the speed of the analysis and conversation. I could easily see these pieces published sequentially in a scholarly journal – one reacting to the other. Yet this process would have taken months, if not years of submission, publication, submission, publication. Instead it was happening on blogs linked by twitter in days. Lane is frankly impressive this way. Just take a look at the depth he goes into with ACRL’s proposed information literacy standards framework. This level of feedback and broadcast thought used to be reserved for conference cycles, not daily cycles.

It would be simplistic to say that technology is accelerating the pace of the scholarly discourse. There is still a huge role for peer review and formal publishing, and those take time, resources, and a hell of a lot of effort. I think we are seeing technology change cultural norms of scholarship, and dip deeper and deeper into the academic foment – the dynamic process where hypothesis, studies, agenda, and outright hunches are generated before formalization, execution, and review.

This push into process, and making the supposed transparency of the research process a reality, is exciting. It also brings with it fundamental questions for scholars and librarians alike (not that those are mutually exclusive groups). There is the obvious question of metrics and measuring impact as well as validity. There is also the role the library plays in capturing and preserving that foment. Do we need a right to be forgotten in scholarly chatter and blogging? Librarians have long been at the birth of ideas (feeding researchers through reference and resources) and at the entombment of research (gathering and fixing research in static documents). Now we are presented with the vast rich chaos of the interim which to me is a fundamental area of investigation for librarians.

Just as school librarians have taken a once passive role as keeper of books & supporters of curriculum, and transformed it into an active role owning (and teaching) information literacy, so too does the advancement of scholarly communication present a huge opportunity to academic librarians. In addition to teaching people how to access and assess the scholarly record, we should be shaping the very process of scholarly communication. Instead of advocating for open access and then creating silos of document morgues called institutional repositories, we should be building cross-institutional curated publishing platforms hand in hand with disciplinary scholars.

What’s Coming Next

To follow up these thoughts I’ve put together a series of mini-service proposals that talk about how we might reshape services in libraries supporting research intensive universities. These are intended to “get the creative juices flowing,” and getting folks to think differently about academic libraries. They are more sketches than finished pieces.

It has been my experience that aside from selling librarians on these ideas, it is equally challenging to convince those who oversee and use the library. A student of mine who was directing a library, saw the library as needing a major update, and a greater focus on service and the undergraduate experience. She was shocked when she did focus groups with students, asking them what they thought of the library. “It’s fine.” “It’s a great place to study.” When asked what else they needed? “Not much…more outlets.”

The problem she encountered is not that people (students, faculty) were dissatisfied with the library, they simply expected too little from it. In many cases, faculty and students simply discounted the library, because they didn’t see how it could get better. In fact they had never even thought of HOW it could be better. This is not surprising as it is not their job to see how we can get better- it is our job as librarians to dream bigger and push our communities to want more in order to accomplish more. These mini-proposals are put together to start that conversation.

I leave you with one last thought. These proposals do not go into detail what libraries are already doing nor do they cover the range of potential services (data curation, digital humanities support, creating assessment centers, hosting community/university incubators). That is not a value judgement. However, there proposals, or any new services, can no longer be added on top of what we are already doing. The academic library of the future is not simply the library of yesterday PLUS. We must take a serious and hard look at what we no longer need to do.