SU wins $250,000 grant to create nationwide digital library tools
SU wins $250,000 grant to create nationwide digital library toolsOctober 27, 2003Edward Byrnesedbyrnes@syr.edu
The Information Institute of Syracuse (IIS), a research center of Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, has received a $250,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Studies to create a nationwide digital reference education initiative. The grant, led by co-principal investigators and SU assistant professors Abby Goodrum and R. David Lankes, with Joseph Janes of the University of Washington, will help prepare librarians, students and paraprofessionals to deliver high-quality reference service on the Internet.
“The Internet has become an essential tool for libraries to interact with patrons. Digital reference allows the heart of the library, the librarian, to be just as accessible as the online catalog,” says Goodrum. “This helps those librarians get to the patrons and makes libraries more central to the communities they serve.”
The grant will be used to educate librarians, students and paraprofessionals in digital reference and build a Web portal for them to access training materials, online courses, and hands-on experience with digital reference software. The portal will also provide a common place for posting digital reference job and internship opportunities.
The project will begin with meetings at this year’s Virtual Reference Desk Conference (http://www.vrd2003.org/index.cfm), to be held November 17-18 in San Antonio.
According to Lankes, the digital reference community is very tight and results-oriented. “Every year at the Virtual Reference Desk Conference, the community sets an agenda. This has included developing quality measures, a research agenda and open standards,” he says. “Last year, the community determined that we needed a community-wide effort to bring together and enhance training. IMLS has made this possible.”
The effort has already formed partnerships with Library Science Schools including SU, the University of Washington, the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, the University of Maryland, Florida State University, Kent State, Emporia State, UCLA and Drexel. Software providers are OCLC, 24/7 Reference, LSSI and LiveAssistance. Libraries include Washington State Library, the Library of Congress, the National Library of Canada, the Library of the Netherlands, the National Library of Australia, Multnomah County Public Library, the Alberta Public Library Consortia, Grant MacEwan College, and Brigham Young University.The IIS (iis.syr.edu) is the umbrella organization for a number of highly visible and widely successful digital education information services and projects. IIS projects bring together universities, government agencies, and private enterprises; together they promote easy access to high quality educational information for a diverse user population.