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UT School of Information Sciences Professors Receive $48,708 IMLS Grant

IMLS logoThe UT School of Information Sciences (SIS) Associate Professors Bharat Mehra (PI) and Vandana Singh (Co-PI) have been awarded a $48,708 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to conduct research focused on community engagement efforts using quantitative and qualitative assessment datasets collected from rural library staff in the ten states of the Southern and Central Appalachian (SCA) region. They will partner with state, county, university, and other types of libraries in the SCA region to research community engagement efforts and to create a strategic action plan for rural libraries to further community-centered activities and processes.

The planning grant, “Assessment of rural library professionals’ role in community engagement in the Southern and Central Appalachian Region: Mobilization from change agents to community anchors,” will serve as a pilot and assessment test-bed for using similar strategies in rural environments nationwide. The research team will examine how to develop resources and share best practices for a systematic and strategic approach to support and mobilize rural librarians as community anchors.

“We are delighted to announce today’s grant recipients, whose projects rose to the top of a demanding peer review process,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. More than $12 million was requested from organizations nationwide with a total of $9.7 million awarded.

“Congratulations to Bharat Mehra and Vandana Singh for successfully presenting the proposal for this important research work,” said SIS Director and Professor Diane Kelly. “It will add to the previous rural library research work that has already been accomplished by our faculty and students over the past decade and will benefit rural libraries across the state.” 

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries (link is external) and approximately 35,000 museums. IMLS’s mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Its grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow IMLS on Facebook (link is external)and Twitter (link is external).