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CICS Receives IMLS and Sloan Foundation Grants

ITRL GradsThe College of Communication and Information’s Center for Information and Communication Studies (CICS) recently received three new grants – two from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and one from the Sloan Foundation.

The IMLS grants provide funding: to allow rural librarians to obtain a UTK M.S. in information sciences and to help Hispanics/Latinos obtain a Ph.D. in communication and information from UTK or a Ph.D. in information resources and library science from the University of Arizona. The Sloan Foundation grant provides CICS researchers with the funding required to conduct a study focused on academic researcher assessments of the trustworthiness of diverse scholarly information sources and channels. More specific information on each of these grants is provided below.

CICS IMLS Grants

CICS received two of the 32 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grants recently awarded by IMLS.

IMLS Grant One: Bharat Mehra and Vandana Singh of UT’s School of Information Sciences (SIS) received a $478,258 grant for the school’s Information Technology Rural Librarian Master’s Scholarship Program Phase II (ITRL2), which offers scholarships to 13 rural librarians in the Appalachian region of the U.S., enabling them to earn master’s degrees in information sciences.

Mehra said the program is important for promoting information literacy in areas of the country that struggle with basic needs.

“With this grant, we can continue to help these librarians better serve impoverished rural communities. Libraries are vital, local institutions that can help boost educational attainment and information literacy, which are critical to reducing poverty and unemployment.”

UT’s community partners in the scholarship program include the Clinch Powell Regional Library, the Fort Loudoun Regional Library, the Sevier County Public Library, and the Watauga Regional Library.

IMLS Grant Two: Ed Cortez and Suzie Allard of SIS and Bryan Heidorn and Patty Overall of the University of Arizona received a $339,593 grant for the LaSCALA (Latino Scholars Cambio Leadership Academy) program. The grant will be used to recruit and educate four Hispanic/Latino doctoral students, with the goal of placing them in faculty positions around the country.

“The Hispanic population is particularly underserved in the information and library sciences area even though they are now the largest minority in the U.S.,” Cortez said. “The goal of the LaSCALA program is to educate the next generation of information science professors to recruit and mentor Hispanic information science students. UT’s SIS is taking a leadership role in resolving this deficiency.”

The LaSCALA program is a collaboration between UT and the University of Arizona.

For more information on the grants and IMLS, the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums, visit http://www.imls.gov.

CICS Sloan Foundation Grant

CICS also received a $271,131 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to study assessments by academic researchers of the trustworthiness of diverse scholarly information sources and channels. The research begins in September of this year and continues until November 2013. 

The project team consists of Carol Tenopir, chancellor’s professor and director of CICS; David Nicholas, UT SIS adjunct professor  and director of CIBER Research Ltd., in Newbury, England; Suzie Allard, associate professor and associate director of the School of Information Sciences; and Ken Levine, associate professor in CCI’s School of Communication Studies. 

”Changes in the way scholars exchange ideas, could have far-reaching impacts on fundamental scholarly beliefs about the value and trustworthiness of scholarly sources,” according to Nicholas. ”This is a strategic topic that has major implications for universities, funding bodies, publishers, librarians, and scholarship itself. We are very grateful to the Sloan Foundation  for its support of this project.”

“Academics have many channels and sources available to learn about research and to exchange ideas,” said Tenopir.  “Engaging in this international collaboration with Dave Nicholas and his CIBER team provides us with a great opportunity to gain important insights into the role trust plays in traditional and new information channel selection by academic researchers.”

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grant-making institution based in New York City. Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-president and chief executive officer of General Motors, the foundation makes grants in support of original research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and economic performance.

For more information about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, visit http://www.sloan.org/.