Syracuse iSchool helps launch new international academy of library and information science in China
Margaret Costello Spillett
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Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) Dean Elizabeth D. Liddy and iSchool associate professor Jian Qin participated earlier this month in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the International Collaborative Academy of Library and Information Science (ICALIS) at Wuhan University — home to the top-ranked information management program in China.
Liddy was one of two deans who did the unveiling of the ICALIS name plaque and also delivered a keynote address about the iSchool at Syracuse University, the iSchool movement and the important role of information schools in the global society. She is working to assist Wuhan’s School of Information Management in joining the iCaucus (ischools.org) — a partnership of deans of information schools currently based only in North America.
“I found this a most impressive ceremony and was thrilled to be an honored participant, as it included the deans of all the leading information and library schools in China,” Liddy says. “Once in China, one cannot help but realize the magnitude of the contribution that partnership with such sizable, venerable, hard-working and prestigious partners could bring to addressing the information-centric problems that the world faces.”
The new academy’s goal is to promote collaborative research and information exchange between the School of Information Management and iSchools in the United States and other countries. Several deans of American iSchools, including Liddy, serve on the academy’s advisory board. The academy will host research fellows, provide seed funds for collaborative research projects led by the research fellows, host international conferences and sponsor scholarly publications, among other functions.
“The new global information environment changed the way people search, organize, transmit, share and use information,” says Chuanfu Chen, dean of the School of Information Management at Wuhan University and executive director of ICALIS. “It becomes critical that we build an open and dynamic platform for addressing the changes in collaboration with our international colleagues.”
The School of Information Management at Wuhan University was originally created in 1920 by an American librarian, Mary Elizabeth Wood, and the first American-educated Chinese librarian, Zurong Shen. It was known as the Boone Library School during the 1930-40s. As the top-ranked school in China, it is poised to join the iSchool movement and raise the intellectual and academic profile through ICALIS activities.
Chen appointed Qin the academy’s first research fellow. During her four-year appointment, Qin will work with Chen and other faculty and doctoral students at Wuhan on a research project entitled “The Info-Tech Impact on Scientific Communication and Collaboration.”
That project is a pilot study that seeks to investigate the impact of information technology on scientific communication and collaboration from socio-behavioral, organizational and user perspectives — an area identified and labeled by the U.S. National Science Foundation as cyberinfrastructure, and also an area for which the iSchool at Syracuse has received funding for developing a new curriculum.
Qin will lead the yearlong project that aims to answer the following questions: How does IT facilitate scientific communication and collaboration? What organizational or individual factors affect the scientific communication and collaboration processes? And among those factors, what are critical to innovative, breakthrough scientific research?