IMLS Grant for Library and iSchool

Apr 25, 2017

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The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was awarded a National Leadership Grant for Libraries from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to hold a national forum and develop a white paper aimed at simplifying scholars’ access to in-copyright and access-restricted texts for computational analysis and data mining research.

The University Library and the School of Information Sciences (iSchool) at Illinois will bring together library, researcher, and publisher stakeholders to discuss and recommend a research, policy, and practice framework that guides scholarly access to protected texts for data mining and other analyses. Text data mining and analysis has emerged as an important research method for scholars. However, researcher efforts to access and analyze datasets are frequently complicated when texts are protected by copyright or other intellectual property restrictions. Following the forum, the team will produce a white paper to synthesize the results of the meeting and to present best practices and policy suggestions to the larger library community.

The University Library’s Beth Namachchivaya and Eleanor Dickson will work on the grant with Megan Senseney, research scientist at the iSchool’s Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship (CIRSS), and Bertram Ludaescher, iSchool professor and CIRSS director.

“This award enables us to bring together an international community of experts to identify a more direct access path for an increasing number of scholars to use computational methods to mine and analyze digital texts in their research. Scholars use computational text mining and analysis to identify historical trends, sentiment, and the occurrence of themes as well as vocabulary and names, with or across a collection of texts,” said Beth Namachchivaya, associate dean of libraries and associate university librarian for research. “The potential to extend text analysis with computational tools is substantial. This grant has the potential to support pragmatic solutions for libraries as well as further scholarly insights into the value of research access to these digital texts.”

“Even as more scholars have become interested in incorporating text data mining into their research practices, they are often stymied by insufficient access to textual corpora needed to do their work. Copyright and licensing issues in particular limit access to text for this research methodology and area of study,” said Eleanor Dickson, visiting HathiTrust Research Center digital humanities specialist. “This grant will allow key stakeholders, including content providers and academic researchers, to reflect on the current state of the field, as well as suggest future best practice that would balance the limitations imposed by legal restrictions with allowable ‘fair use’ of textual corpora.”

For more information about the Institute of Museum and Library Services, visit imls.gov.

Visit ischool.illinois.edu for additional information about the School of Information Sciences. More on the Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship is located at cirss.ischool.illinois.edu.

To learn more about the University Library, visit library.illinois.edu.

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