Projects and Research

Bowden Professor

The overall goal of the work is to strengthen the connections between The University of Texas at Austin School of Information and the international library community. As such the majority of the work will include strong collaborations with practitioners.

The professorship is made possible with a generous endowment by Virginia & Charles Bowden.


Libraries need to help shape the future of artificial intelligence and data science research and practice. The LADDER Project aims to educate future LIS faculty who can teach new librarians how to best develop, apply, and use AI in libraries in ways that are equitable, ethical, and effective.


CIRCL is a coordinated network developing participatory research, policy recommendations, and culturally-responsive advocacy strategies to amplify rural libraries and promote sustainable rural librarianship. 


CIRCL working group of state libraries and relevant stakeholders to explore the varied roles state libraries in the use of AI and in their support of efforts around workforce development in AI.

More Information

Research Focus

My primary research agenda focuses on community-based librarianship. This works involves seeing the role librarians have in building knowledge in a community and help community members find meaning in their lives. I situate my methodology in Participatory Action Research, where I am part of building systems or working with librarians and community members to better understand systems. This work is international.

Honors & Awards

2023: Inaugural member of the Research Leaders Academy at the University of Texas

2023: Tall Texan Mentor

2021: RUSA Isadore Gilbert Mudge Award for distinguished contribution to reference librarianship

2016: American Library Association’s 2016 Ken Haycock Award for Promoting Librarianship

2012: ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Award for the Best Book in Library Literature for the book Atlas of new librarianship

2009: Emerald Literati Network 2009 Outstanding Paper Award Journal of Documentation for the article Credibility on the internet: shifting from authority to reliability

2009: Aslib-Emerald Award for the article Credibility on the internet: shifting from authority to reliability

2007-2010: First OITP Fellow, American Library Association

2002-2004: Visiting Fellow National Library of Canada

2001: Visiting Scholar Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education

1997: ASIS/ISI Doctoral Proposal Award

1996: Certificate of University Teaching, Syracuse University

1996: Syracuse University Outstanding Teaching Assistant

1994: Syracuse University Fellowship, Syracuse University

1993: Graduate Teaching Associate, Syracuse University

1992: Syracuse University Fellowship, Syracuse University

1992: Research Assistant, Syracuse University

1992: Phi Beta Kappa, Syracuse University

1992: Graduate Magna Cum Laude, Syracuse University

Doctoral Study

Click here for Information about working with me on doctoral studies. I would love to work with folks on their doctoral studies. This to let you know the kind of work I can support, and some logistics of how that might work.

Research News

State libraries to explore strategic use of AI around workforce development

February 1, 2024AUSTIN, 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...

Happy Holidays

Here’s to a great...

Announcing the State Libraries and Artificial Intelligence Project: a CIRCL Working Group

CIRCL is creating a new working group with state libraries: State Libraries and AI Technologies or SLAIIT (like slate). The prospectus calls for the creation of a limited term working group of state libraries and relevant stakeholders to explore the varied roles state...

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...

Meet Virtual Virtual Dave (not a typo)

Following in Lorcan Dempsey’s footsteps in playing with trainable generative AI, let me introduce Virtual Virtual Dave: Like a lot of you, I have been poking around with ChatGPT and other AI systems. One thing I wondered as I used...

Book Bans to AI: Changing the Narrative in Libraries

“Book Bans to AI: Changing the Narrative in Libraries” Keynote. Library Journal 2023 Directors Summit. Houston, Texas. Abstract: While librarians should never surrender the fight for intellectual freedom, there is utility in changing the narrative of the...

An AI Enhanced Blog…sort of

These days if I’m asked to give a guest lecture, keynote, or just a talk it is either about book bans or AI. Increasingly I see the intersection. I have a feeling this will be an area of continued investigation, so I’ve created a new category for my stuff....

So you want a PhD

I receive inquiries about working with me on doctoral studies. I would love to work with folks on their doctorates. I am writing this to let you know the kind of work I can support, and some logistics of how that might work. First, let me talk about my areas of...

New Librarianship and AI

So I’ve been thinking about the great opportunity AI presents librarians and wanted to share those and get your feedback: I’m including the automatic transcript for accessibility and so search engines may find it 🙂 Click for Automated Transcript WEBVTT...

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...

Funded Projects

2022-Present      Library, AI, and Data Driven Education and Research (LADDER), IMLS, Co-PI. Project is to create future iSchool faculty highly skilled in data science and AI with a strong connection to the library field. 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 to co-designed data and AI centric projects. $623,501

2021-Present      Evaluation of LSTA program at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, TSLAC. PI. Conducted an evaluation of the Library Service and Technology Act programs and funding at the Texas state library with Kim Silk. Prepared assessment training and conducted research into the need for professional development in rural and tribal Texas areas. $100,000

2021-2022          New Librarianship Symposia, IMLS and Others. Organizer. Convened an international series of symposia on the issues of post-neutrality librarianship; diversity, equity, and inclusion; cross-border connections; and a post-COVID new normal agenda. The New Librarianship Symposium Series was sponsored by the University of South Carolina, MIT Press, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, the U.S. Library of Congress, the British Library, KB National Library of the Netherlands, OCLC, URFIST de Bordeaux, Enssib, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, the American Indian Library Association, the University of Texas at Austin Bowden Folio, and Gigabit Libraries Network. $35,000

2020-2022          NEWCOMER: Building a Network Community Centered Librarianship, Erasmus+ European Union. Project Consultant. Build a network of librarians from Belgium, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Slovenia, Czech Republic, and the Netherlands to exchange best practice in community librarianship focused on inclusion and adult education. $137,798 (€117,250)

2017-2021          Library Scholars, Various. PI. Built school library cohort programs with South Carolina School districts to transition classroom teachers to school librarians. $800,000

2017-2018          A Community Based Literacy Solution, Hearst Foundation. Co-PI. Studied increasing literacy through a community approach that brought together teachers, literacy specialists, librarians (school and public), community leaders, and community government. $100,000

2015-2016          Community as Collection: Building the Community Profile System, IMLS. Co-PI. A three-year investigation into building a community profile system to allow libraries to better connect to community expertise. $281,000

2015-Present      Expect More Collaboratory, Various. PI. A two-year collaborative effort to develop advocacy and training materials for librarians and libraries based on the Expect More book. $63,000

2014-2016          Design On Learning: 21st Century Online Learning For Library Workers, IMLS. Co-PI. A three-year continuing education (CE) development and implementation partnership project among South Central Regional Library Council, Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, and the NY 3Rs Association, Inc. Design on Learning will 1) enable librarian-trainer participants to successfully transfer their in-person teaching skills/pedagogy to the online environment; 2) enable librarian-trainers to evaluate and gain experience with various delivery platforms; and 3) teach library workers to learn effectively in the online environment.

2012-2015          Project ILEAD USA, IMLS. Chair of the Instructor Corps. A three-year continuing education initiative that directly addresses the need to expand librarians’ leadership abilities to use participatory technology to effectively engage their libraries’ constituents. The primary goals of this project are 1) to help library staff understand and respond to user needs through the application of participatory technology tools, and 2) the creation of an easy-to-replicate model program. $470,000

2012-2013          Cyber Security and Information Systems, U.S. Department of Defense. Researcher. Assist Quanterion, as it operates the CSIAC, in developing a community of practice platform. $307,000

2012-2014          Developing the Salzburg Curriculum, IMLS and The Global Salzburg Seminar. Principal Investigator. Develop a high-level curriculum framework for librarians and museum professionals and then map it to relevant curricula and standards. $10,000

2010-2012          DACS – Digital Library Research, U.S. Department of Defense. Principal Investigator for Digital Library Portion. Assist Quanterion, as it operates the DACS, in identifying, recommending, and applying technologies and techniques, particularly automated techniques, for efficiently identifying, collecting, cataloging, and aggregating electronic information resources in targeted focal software related technology areas. $646,844

2010-2011          Reference Extract, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Co-Principal Investigator. First phase of development for Reference Extract, a credibility engine, allowing users to embed the credibility judgments of librarians worldwide into their applications. $350,000

2009-2012          Project ILEAD U, IMLS. Chair of the Instructor Corps. A three-year continuing education initiative that directly addresses the need to expand librarians’ leadership abilities to use participatory technology to effectively engage their libraries’ constituents. The primary goals of this project are 1) to help library staff understand and respond to user needs through the application of participatory technology tools, and 2) the creation of an easy-to-replicate model program. $418,658

2008-2009          Reference Extract Planning Grant, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Principal Investigator. Investigated and developed a business plan and technical architecture for a general-purpose search engine built around credible communities (initially reference librarians). $97,428

2008                 Future of Libraries, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Consultant. Prepared a report on the area of libraries and their future evolution. $2,500

2008-2011          CI-Facilitators: Accelerating Knowledge Development and Collaboration across the STEM Disciplines, NSF. Co-Principal Investigator. Developing a curriculum to train cyber-infrastructure facilitators to aid in the adoption of technologies to further e-science. $239,945

2007-2010          A Virtual Learning Laboratory for Digital Reference: Transforming the Internet Public Library, IMLS. Consultant. Enhancing the Internet Public Library to make digital reference learning objects available to faculty in all ALA-accredited LIS programs, provide a laboratory with access to new technologies used to offer digital reference and digital library services and create a collaborative learning community for faculty, students and working librarians. $613,478

2006-2008          Exploring the Social Internet, American Library Association, Principal Investigator. Researching and writing a detailed technology brief on the topic of the social Internet. The brief will put an emphasis on interactive and social web applications such as blogs, social networks, and include a survey of the general “Web 2.0” and “Library 2.0 ” development world. $12,000

2006-2008          Credibility Commons, MacArthur Foundation. Co-Principal Investigator. The Credibility Commons is an experimental environment enabling individuals the opportunity to try out different approaches to improving access to credible information on the World Wide Web. Tools will be provided to researchers as well as the public, allowing them to try out search strategies, collections and other approaches to improving access to credible information. The Commons can be viewed as a collaborative space in which to share ideas, data sets, results and innovations. This project is sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation who is deeply invested in improving access to credible information on the World Wide Web. $250,000

2004-2006          National Research Study on the Future of Librarians in the Workforce, IMLS. Co-Principal Investigator. Joined with the University of North Caroline (lead) to identify the nature of anticipated labor shortages in the library and information science (LIS) field over the next decade; assessed the number and types of library and information science jobs that will become available in the U.S. either through retirement or new job creation; determined the skills that will be required to fill such vacancies; and recommended effective approaches to recruiting and retaining workers to fill them. $1,000,000

2003-2006          Digital Reference Education Initiative, IMLS. Co-Principal Investigator. Implemented an international effort to define core competencies in reference and built web-based resources to advance and educate the reference community. $250,000

2002-2006          National Science Digital Library: Core Integration, NSF. Principal Investigator for Virtual Reference Desk Portion. Implemented, maintained and improved a distributed expert/support component of the NSDL. With Cornell University, UCAR, Columbia University, University of Massachusetts Amherst. $1,200,000 (Syracuse University Portion)

2002-2004          Question Triage for Experts and Documents: Expanding the Information Retrieval Function of the NSDL, NSF. Co-Principal Investigator. Merged digital triage system with NSDL information retrieval system. With Bruce Croft, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Matt Koll, Wondir Foundation. $350,000

2002-2005          Education Digital Library Initiative, U.S. Department of Education. Principal Investigator. Operated and Improved the Virtual Reference Desk project and the Gateway to Educational Materials projects. $5,000,000

2002                 Digital Reference Research Symposium, National Library of Canada, ACRL, Harvard, Library of Congress, OCLC. Principal Investigator and Organizer. Organized a research symposium to develop an international research agenda in digital reference. $35,000 

2001-2003          Integrating Expertise into the NSDL: Putting a Human Face on the Digital Library, NSF. Principal Investigator. Created a distributed virtual reference desk for the NSF’s NSDL program. $350,000

2001-2002          Assessing Quality in Digital Reference Services, OCLC. Co-Principal Investigator with Charles McClure to develop quality assessment techniques and standards. $150,000

2000-2001          Agile Collaboration Environments (ACE) for Systems Synthesis in Engineering Education, NASA. Contributor to a proposal to NASA for an advanced training environment for engineers and K-12 students. Partners included School of Engineering and Cornell University. $1,000,000

2000-2003          Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology. Consultant. Worked with the Syracuse University School of Education on implementing projects to increase technology use of School of Education faculty. $500,000

2000                 Department of Education Referral Tool, U.S. Department of Education. Principal Investigator. Worked with the Department of Education to develop specifications and policies for a department-wide referral tool to improve customer service. $60,000

1999-2000          MCI/WorldCom MarcoPolo Search Engine. Principle Investigator. A contract with MCIWorldCom to create a cross-site search system for the MarcoPolo project. Included cataloging nearly 7,000 records as well as systems development, network discovery and information retrieval, and interface research. $250,000

1998-2003          ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology. Principal Investigator and director of ERIC/IT. A U.S. Department of Education sponsored clearinghouse that collects, indexes, abstracts and distributes information related to library and information science and educational technology. $5,000,000

1997-2002          Virtual Reference Desk, National Library of Education. Principal Investigator on a study to improve Internet reference services. [Later Education Digital Library Initiative] $1,200,000

1996-2002          Gateway to Educational Materials, Federal Dept. of Education. Participated in a standards and cataloging project for Internet-based lesson plans. [Later Education Digital Library Initiative] $5,000,000

1996-1999          KidsConnect, AASL. Assisted in ongoing work with the K-12 digital reference project. $200,000

1996-1998          AskLN, AT&T. Co-Principal Investigator on a planning grant for AT&T’s Learning Network mentoring service. $250,000

1992-2003          AskERIC, U.S. Department of Education. Co-Created an Internet service that sought to provide high quality education information to front-line educators through electronic networks.