Library, GSLIS Awarded IMLS Grant

Jul 8, 2011

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library was awarded a $49,989 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Grant, which will be matched with $68,640 of non-federal funds, from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). 

The Collaborative Planning Grant will support the “Field Strength: Enhancing Collaboration in LIS Education through Field Experience” project at the University of Illinois where the University Library and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) will identify best practices in field experience.  These best practices will be shared with libraries and Library and Information Science (LIS) education programs across the country and have the potential to influence preparation and recruitment of the next generation of librarians.

Scott Walter, associate university librarian for services and associate dean of libraries, is principal investigator (PI) on the project and will be working alongside co-PIs Linda C. Smith, professor and associate dean at Illinois’  Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Sue Searing, library and information science librarian, and Beth Sandore, associate university librarian for information technology planning and policy and associate dean of libraries.
 
Field experience has long been recognized as a critical component of LIS education, and opportunities are expanding in the field’s emergent areas such as instructional services, data curation, subject specialties, assessment, and digital library services.  

“Through planning activities, we will foster productive discussion of ways in which the classroom and the field may partner together in the design and delivery of LIS education and establish a plan for a full-scale project that has the potential to promote the integration of ‘field strength' in LIS education for years to come,” said Walter.

Smith adds, "Given the increased emphasis in higher education on assessing student learning outcomes, this project is particularly timely in seeking to identify best practices in field experience as a component of a student's academic program."

The University Library and GSLIS have a long history of working together to provide GSLIS students with unique and plentiful opportunities for practical experience, making the University of Illinois an ideal setting for a study of field experience and the impact it has on alumni—many of whom have gone on to leadership positions in libraries and LIS education programs.  The University of Illinois also plans to work with LIS education programs and academic libraries at the University of Maryland and the University of Washington to ensure a greater diversity of voices in the planning.  A final project report is expected by July 2012.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit www.imls.gov.

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