University of Tennessee School of Information Sciences and partners receive IMLS grant to improve Data Curation


The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded $988,543 to fund the program, Data Curation Education in Research Centers (DCERC), which will be developed by a partnership of the University of Tennessee School of Information Sciences (SIS), the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Graduate School of Library and Information Science and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).


Suzie Allard, associate professor and assistant director of SIS, is one of three principal investigators on the project with Carole Palmer (UIUC) and Mary Marlino (NCAR). Carol Tenopir, UT Chancellor’s Professor, director of research and director of the Center for Information and Communication Studies (CICS); and Tanya Arnold, SIS coordinator of student services, will also work on UT’s portion of the project, which amounts to approximately one third of the funding.


The DCERC project will develop a model, including field experience in a data-intensive scientific environment, for educating LIS masters and doctoral students in data curation. It will implement a graduate research and education program to address the need for professionals with scientific expertise who can manage and curate large digital data collections. The masters students will be based at UT and the doctoral students will be based at UIUC; there will be many activities coordinated between the two cohorts.


“There is an urgent need to develop a workforce that can support scientists and scientific inquiry that is increasingly becoming more data intensive in order to address the important scientific challenges facing society,” said Suzie Allard. “IMLS’ funding has provided the means to design the curriculum and establish the experiences that will help fill this critical need for information professionals. We are proud of how our DCERC partnership mirrors the cooperative actions that are needed to accomplish this.”


“The faculty in our program has so much to offer LIS students and educators in terms of developing new models and standards of scholarship,” said Dr. Cortez, director and professor at UT SIS. “Keeping up with technological developments and establishing innovative models for data curation is critical for sustaining and improving scientific communication. Our faculty continues to demonstrate in very tangible projects like these that they understand and are addressing substantive, real-world needs.”


Cortez also noted the tremendous support provided by the college’s Center for Information and Communication Studies, which is headed by SIS faculty member, Carol Tenopir.


Ongoing IMLS Grants at UT SIS


In fall 2009, three SIS faculty members—Drs. Suzie Allard, Bharat Mehra, and Vandana Singh—received IMLS awards totaling over $2.6 million for the next four years. These Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program awards support projects that are designed to recruit and educate the next generation of librarians and faculty members, to compare and improve the technology tools that librarians use daily, and to shore up technological expertise of regional library leaders.


Suzie Allard is the principal investigator of the ScienceLinks2 grant, which was awarded $711,727 to build curriculum, provide mentoring, and support the research agendas of six doctoral students who will become educators of the next generation of science data and information specialists.


SIS Associate Professor Bharat Mehra, along with co-PIs and SIS assistant professors Kimberly Black and Vandana Singh, received an IMLS grant that targets lagging information technology literacy in Tennessee’s rural Southern and Central Appalachians. “Rural Library Professionals as Change Agents in the 21st Century: Integrating Information Technology Competencies in Southern and Central Appalachian Region” is a $567,660 grant that has gifted full scholarships to 16 rural librarians.


SIS Assistant Professor Vandana Singh is the principal investigator on an IMLS grant for $321,178. “Technical Support for Integrated Library Systems’ Comparison of Open Source and Proprietary Software” will compare the level of technical support required by open-source integrated library systems (the computer systems used to acquire, manage, and circulate library materials) and the off-the-shelf, proprietary versions of these systems.


And finally, Professor Carol Tenopir was awarded a $1 million IMLS grant to address academic librarians’ growing needs to demonstrate the return on investment and value of the library to their respective institutions. The project, entitled “Value, Outcomes, and Return on Investment of Academic Libraries,” will help guide library management in the redirection of library funds to important products and services for the future. For more information, contact Dr. Suzie Allard at [log in to unmask] or (865) 974-1369.


The School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee is an innovative leader among library and information programs nationally, and one of four schools that make up the College of Communication and Information. School faculty instruct some 250 graduate students, are engaged in leading-edge research, and partner with organizations throughout the world to help people flourish in our dynamic information society. UT SIS is the only master’s degree program in Tennessee to be fully accredited by the American Library Association.



Joel Southern
Communications Specialist
School of Information Sciences

College of Communication and Information
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
1345 Circle Park Drive, Suite 451
Knoxville, TN 37996-0341
(865) 974-6727
jsouthern at utk dot edu