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iSchool Professor Zhang awarded Laura Bush 21st Century Library Program grant

July 05, 2011

Gretchen Schroeder


Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) Professor Ping Zhang was recently awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program.

Zhang was one of 24 recipients to receive this prestigious grant. This year, the IMLS received more than 119 applications requesting $55 million in funds. Zhang will receive $741,936 from the Laura Bush grant and an additional $51,072 in matching non-federal funds.

The overall goal of this project is to help educate a new generation of science librarians. Scientific research is generating huge amounts of data that must be managed and preserved, and there is a need for professionals who specialize in this important work. Zhang will use the funds to meet the following project objectives:

  • Attract new Ph.D. students focused on library school faculty careers from potential applicant pools: practicing librarians, e-science fellows and others with science and MLS (or equivalent) degrees;
  • provide exposure and enculturation through attendance at library and e-science conferences;
  • provide exposure to academic culture requirement through participation in service activities;
  • create Ph.D. research practica to promote active learning by involving students in library and/or e-science research projects;
  • create Ph.D. teaching practica to promote active learning by involving students in library teaching;
  • provide extensive opportunities for honing classroom teaching skills through actively mentored instructional responsibilities;
  • integrate Ph.D. students in the processes of program evaluation.

“The bulk of the requested funds, about 90 percent, will be spent to support Ph.D. students training to become faculty in schools that grant MLS degrees, directly addressing the IMLS priority to develop faculty to educate the next generation of library professionals,” Zhang says. “The majority of funds will be used to attract and support new students, thus increasing the number of potential faculty. Each student supported by the project will be provided tuition, a $22,500 stipend, $3,500 each year to allow them to purchase health insurance, $500 each year for student research purposes and $2,000 per year per student for conference traveling.”

Zhang believes this project will impact the field of e-science in three ways.

“The most direct impact of the project will be to develop faculty in library schools to educate the next generation of e-science professionals to work in academic, public or school,” Zhang says. “A second goal of this project is to demonstrate an adaptable model for the education of future library faculty with a concentration that may be used by other Ph.D. programs. A final goal is to raise the visibility of library Ph.D. studies in general and e-science Ph.D. studies in particular, through marketing the program, recruitment of prospective students with science and library backgrounds, especially streamlining with other nationwide e-science initiatives.”

“I applaud the Institute of Museum and Library Services for selecting Syracuse University from over 100 applicants for the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program,” New York State Senator Charles E. Schumer said in a release. “This only confirms what we already knew—that Syracuse University is one of the leading institutions for library sciences, and at the forefront of educating students in the critical 21st-century fields of scientific research and data management.”

Zhang is a professor and director of the Ph.D. program at the iSchool. She holds a B.S. and M.S. degree in computer science from Peking University, China, and a Ph.D. in information systems from the University of Texas at Austin. Over the past decade, she has been conducting research in the broadly defined area of human-computer interaction (HCI) in various contexts. Her current research interests include the intellectual development of information-related fields; human-centeredness in ICT development, evaluation and use; affective, cognitive, motivational and behavioral aspects of individual reactions toward ICT; and the impact of ICT design and use on individuals, organizations, societies and cultures.

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