The University Library has named Timothy W. Cole, head of the Mathematics Library, for the Elaine and Allen Avner Professorship in Interdisciplinary Research. Cole holds this honor as of April 16, 2018, continuing for five years.
The professorship was established with a gift from longtime Library Friend Allen Avner in November 2017. Cole will carry out research in fields connected to the application of information technologies in interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary fields of research.
“Elaine and Allen Avner were pioneers in the application of computer technologies to learning systems,” said William Mischo, head of the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center. “I’ve had several wonderful conversations with Allen over the enhanced role that information and digital library technologies play in the research and instructional mission of the University of Illinois. Tim’s work exemplifies the role of the library as a major player in emergent and interdisciplinary research and, through Allen’s generosity, this professorship will provide resources to expand these conversations.”
“It will be a singular honor to serve as the inaugural Allen and Elaine Avner Professor in Interdisciplinary Librarianship, and I am most appreciative of this opportunity to further my research into the novel ways libraries can apply technologies to better support interdisciplinary scholarship and pedagogy. This professorship recognizes the importance of multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary approaches and will facilitate new and ongoing national and international collaborations, not only with library colleagues, but also with domain scholars in an array of disciplines. Looking beyond the parochial engenders more effective research and leads to outcomes that benefit not only our Library alone but also this campus and other research libraries and institutions more broadly,” said Cole. He added, “Truly an exciting opportunity!”
The appointment was open to any Library faculty member at the associate professor or professor rank.
“Tim was selected in a highly competitive process,” said John P. Wilkin, dean of libraries and university librarian. “Throughout his 25-year career, Tim has consistently demonstrated a singular vision for the role of information technologies in academic library services; the external reviewers were full of praise for Tim’s scholarship and contributions to the profession.”
Cole received his BS in aeronautical and astronautical engineering in 1978 and his MS in library and information science in 1989, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At Illinois, he has been on the Library faculty since 1990 and the affiliated faculty in the School of Information Sciences since 2009. From 1978 until 1988, Cole worked as a propulsion systems engineer, including three years at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
In 2017, Cole was honored with the Frederick G. Kilgour Award for Research in Library and Information Technology from the OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. and the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the American Library Association.