From the Syracuse U. iSchool Website:
A new School of Information Studies (iSchool) initiative is serving as a discovery zone for public library innovation, a hub for student inquiry on librarianship topics, and a means to circulate new ideas and research findings to public library professionals.
The newly established “iSchool Public Libraries Initiative,” (IPLI) led by Associate Professor of Practice Jill Hurst-Wahlas director, has several key purposes. She says it creates an intellectual home for iSchool faculty and students who want to research public library topics and apply the knowledge they discover. Secondly, the initiative offers iSchool master’s-degree Library Information Science (MSLIS) students and others a faculty-supported research hub focused on topics in their field. In a third vein, students and faculty are helping public libraries build added capacity for innovation by sharing the information research projects uncover.
At a time when public libraries face mounting operational and community-support challenges, ideas on how to innovate new offerings are most welcome, according to Hurst-Wahl. “Public library staff often lack time and resources, and consequently they may make decisions with a limited amount of information. Many times, especially with smaller libraries, they don’t have the luxury of sitting around and doing deep thinking about what they can offer. I felt that a group of researchers could provide better information and distribute it so that it is available to libraries, providing information about projects and programs that are in use and that are successful.”
The initiative’s goals include:
- Researching the state of public libraries and their communities, with a focus on information needed by decision-makers and advocates
- Compiling and disseminating information about how libraries are innovating, helping them build their capacity to do so
- Applying iSchool research (such as issues about information privacy and the use of technology in marginalized communities) to the public library setting
- Developing white papers, trade and scholarly articles, webinars, and presentations on innovation for the public library community’s use
- Offering classes and professional development programming for library staff, administration and trustees on various topics, including collecting and using data to support public library activities.