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Syracuse iSchool receives Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Grant

August 13, 2009

Margaret Spillett
(315) 443-1069

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recently awarded a Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant to the Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) for its project titled "Building an eScience Librarianship Curriculum for an eResearch Future."

QinTotaling almost $800,000, the grant will be used to educate a new generation of science librarians by developing a digital curation curriculum that will emphasize the management and preservation of science-related information.

iSchool associate professor Jian Qin is the principal investigator for this grant. She and her research assistant, John D'Ignazio, began writing the grant proposal last fall to the IMLS Program, which has been strengthening the field of librarianship through federal grants promoting skill development, training and scholarships for master's and doctoral degrees for more than five years.

"This grant provides us with a great opportunity to further our work developed as part of the National Science Foundation-funded Science Data Literacy Program that helps connect people with complex information," says D'Ignazio, a doctoral student and adjunct professor at the iSchool. "In that two-year program, we designed and conducted a course to train people to find, assess, preserve and present science-related data. This new effort expands that work by establishing more courses related to science resource management and computer system-supported collaboration to give a cohort of students' skills now needed by scientists running cutting-edge research laboratories."

The project, which will be developed in partnership with staff from Cornell University's library, will recruit six students to be the first group of eScience Librarians by providing scholarships to people with a background in the sciences. Students selected for this project should hold a master's degree or at least have some research experience, and they will have the opportunity to participate in summer internships as well as attend conferences.

The grant period runs until July 31, 2012. The first year will be spent on research to ensure that the courses are appropriate and sound. The courses should be available by fall 2010.

"Our grads are in demand," D'Ignazio says. "One student, who took our science data course virtually from Rochester the first time it was offered now works at Temple University Library as the data management librarian."

D'Ignazio hopes that this research project will not only help students discover a profession they may never have considered otherwise, but that it will also remind people how crucial librarians are in this information age where researchers are creating data at a near unmanageable rate.

"Computers and databases are solving a lot of our problems, but perhaps are creating new ones," D'Ignazio says. "If everything is taken over by computers, we lose that human element. Having librarians at the table keeps a personal element alive that aids people in connecting with information they need or are interested in, even in abstract areas like the sciences."

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 122,000 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 IMLS, visit

Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program
The Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program supports a variety of projects related to library and information science, ranging from those that develop faculty and library leaders to those that attract high school and college students to consider careers in libraries. There are five categories of funding: doctoral programs, master's level programs, research, pre-professional programs, programs to build institutional capacity and continuing education. To find out more about this grant and how to apply, visit

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