Current Projects

Current research projects are listed alphabetically by project title.


Against the backdrop of a powerful desire for national modernization, the Long 1960s (c. 1955-1975) witnessed attempts to build, literally, a better post-war Britain. The unprecedented burst of building activity that marked the post-war years included the planning and construction of hundreds of public library buildings, clothed in a variety of modernist styles symbolic of the period's spirit of renewal. Described at the time as a "national health service for reading," public libraries assumed a prominent position in the post-war welfare state. Through analysis of extant buildings and primary source documents, the research will examine what modernist library design meant to librarians, architects, local politicians and planners, and the public. The research will contribute...


University of Illinois Research Board — $4,250

This project allies with IMLS’s support of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading with an exploration of the use of tablet computers, apps, and e-books in public libraries as a tool against summer reading loss. It will engage with experts in scholarship and practice to define the public library’s role in selecting and providing existing digital media for younger children, especially those primary-grades children in low-income communities who are most in need of intervention, whose access to media at home is limited, and for whom summer often means a loss of skills. This plan draws on both the historic involvement of public libraries in literacy through summer reading programs and ongoing support, and their long-term role as providers and facilitators for communities impacted by disparate...


Institute of Museum and Library Services — $46,678

This project develops a freely available database that links Medline papers and U.S. patents, through identification of individuals who authored both papers and patents and analysis of citations between papers and patents. These patent-paper-author links will then enable identification of similar organizations and in some cases, science/technology field and geography. Co-authorship networks for scientists are also prepared, annotated and made available on the Dataverse Network System (DVN), analogously to what has been done for inventors in the patent record (NSF proposal 0830287). This integrated database enables researchers to investigate how 1) grants enable papers, 2) papers influence patenting, and 3) scientific knowledge ultimately diffuses and influences the entire patent record...


National Science Foundation — $445,165
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation — $10,000

The goal of Data Curation Education in Research Centers (DCERC) is to develop a sustainable and transferable model for educating Library and Information Science (LIS) masters and doctoral students in data curation through field experiences in research and data centers. DCERC will establish and implement a graduate research and education program in scientific data curation that will bring students into the real world of scientific data curation, where they will engage with current practices and challenges, and share their developing expertise and research in the area.


Institute of Museum and Library Services — $988,543

The Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship at the University of Illinois will collaborate with the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities at the University of Maryland and the Center for Digital Scholarship at Brown University to develop and conduct a series of advanced institutes on data curation for the digital humanities, to be held at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (Graduate School of Library and Information Science), the University of Maryland (Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities) and at Brown University (Center for Digital Scholarship).


National Endowment for the Humanities — $144,855

This project proposes to use supervised machine learning to build an entity extractor that is specifically designed for supporting the constructing of socio-technical network data. The resulting probabilistic prediction models and end-user technology are essential for being able to address substantive questions about real-world networks. The project team will make these outcomes publicly available to enable others to perform text coding projects, especially in the social sciences and humanities. We will also apply this extractor to multiple corpora for research projects.


Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment

Field experience has long been recognized as a critical component of Library and Information Science (LIS) education. While on-the-ground experience and anecdotal evidence about the strengths and weaknesses of field experience programs abound, the LIS field lacks the research found in complementary fields such as education and nursing that is required to identify and promote “best practices” for this important component of LIS education. Field Strength, a project to be led by the University Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in collaboration with the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, will begin to identify best practices in field experience in LIS education. The iSchools and University Libraries at the University of Maryland and...


Institute of Museum and Library Services — $49,989

An archivally grounded research project on telecommunications system development between the 1870s and the 1970s.






Notably absent in the current rush to digitize newspapers and books are critical investigations of the processes and products of this work. Such examinations are forestalled, Mak argues, by a rhetoric of revolution that determines how the phenomenon should be constituted and studied, just as it continues to do for the so-called printing revolution of the fifteenth century. Her analysis of digitizations exposes the ways in which historical sources are being reconfigured for digital transmission as part of the “information revolution,” and considers the consequences of this reconfiguration for humanities scholarship, cultural heritage, and the making of meaning.


Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities — $14,000

Inclusive Gigabit Libraries: Learn, Discuss and Brainstorm consists of an educational campaign to raise awareness of next generation networks and how libraries might participate in U.S. Ignite-related initiatives; at least six national forums for about 150 library leaders; development of at least five case studies; and a white paper that will synthesize the forums and case studies.

The primary goal of the US Ignite Partnership will be to catalyze approximately 60 advanced, next-generation applications over the next five years in six areas of national priority: education and workforce development, advanced manufacturing, health, transportation, public safety, and clean energy.


Institute of Museum and Library Services — $99,168

In order for older texts to be searchable, contemporary English needs to be translated into language from various historical timeframes. The project will develop software that will let people enter a query in contemporary English, and search over English texts throughout history—from Medieval times to the present day. The project will mostly involve training statistical models that assign probabilities of the translation to a word or phrase in a target English language. The project will also look at how to display results in order to provide the user with the most probable answer to the query.



Google — $49,429

Microblogging services like Twitter are becoming an important part of how many people manage information in their day to day activities. As microblog traffic increases (Twitter currently sees about 50 million tweets per day) information management and organization will become keen problems in this area. The project will define the core problems in microblog search and propose solutions to these challenges in the form of both theoretical models and prototype search systems.



Google — $45,563
Google — $22,714

Mix IT Up! Youth Advocacy Librarianship focuses on creating intentionally structured, youth­-centered, engaged learning opportunities related to information technologies. Mix IT Up! enhances youth services by developing a library and information science (LIS) specialization that dovetails with community informatics and youth service in order to focus on systematically training librarians as youth advocates. Mix IT Up! actively recruits youth advocacy fellows from traditionally underrepresented groups in LIS - American Indian, Latino/a, African American, and working­ class - by providing academic and financial support. Fellows are placed in long-term youth advocacy projects that partner with community organizations serving youth. Fellows also engage with selected community...


Institute of Museum and Library Services — $904,314

This project assesses an American Library Association (ALA) “News Know-how” program, which engages librarians, journalists, news ethicists and students across the country in news literacy education.

The evaluation will provide information that will help the ALA and its partners adjust the strategy for delivering this program as well as provide a final evaluation of the overall impact of the program. The evaluation addresses the following questions:


American Library Association — $89,697



The overarching goals of the Open Annotation Collaboration (OAC) are to facilitate to emergence of a Web and resource-centric interoperable annotation environment that allows leveraging annotations across the boundaries of annotation clients, annotation servers, and content collections, to demonstrate the utility of this environment, and to see widespread adoption of this environment. To this end the OAC has made available the draft annotation data model and ontology developed during Phase I. OAC Phase II focuses on directly engaging humanities scholars and involving existing collections of digital content that have well-defined communities of scholars interested in annotating such content.



Andrew W. Mellon Foundation — $362,000
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation — $170,000

The original Preserving Virtual Worlds project, funded by the Library of Congress’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIP), investigated what preservation issues arose with computer games and interactive fiction, and how existing metadata and packaging standards might be employed for the long-term preservation of these materials. PVW2 will focus on determining properties for a variety of educational games and game franchises in order to provide a set of best practices for preserving the materials through virtualization technologies and migration, as well as provide an analysis of how the preservation process is documented.



Institute of Museum and Library Services — $785,898

The Site-Based Data Curation (SBDC) project is a two-year effort to develop a framework of policies and processes for the curation of “site-based” digital research data that responds to the needs of long-tail science researchers and site managers, and promotes coordination with libraries and data repositories. The SBDC framework will be developed by experts in data curation, research library repositories, domain science, and research site management, providing a curation model that includes: 1) policies to infuse principled curation practices early in the data lifecycle; and 2) processes for curating cohesive aggregations of usable digital data for transfer from research sites to libraries and repositories. The SBDC framework is an important step forward in evolving the professional...


Institute of Museum and Library Services — $499,919

Films are produced, screened and perceived as part of a larger and continuously changing ecosystem that involves multiple stakeholders and themes. This project will measure the impact of social justice documentaries by capturing, modeling and analyzing the map of these stakeholders and themes in a systematic, scalable and analytically rigorous fashion. This solution will result in a validated, re-useable and end-user friendly methodology and technology that practitioners can use to assess the long-term impact of media productions beyond the number of people who have seen a screening or visited a webpage. Moreover, bringing the proposed computational methodology into a real-world application context can serve as a case-study for demonstrating the usability of this cutting-edge solution...


Ford Foundation — $150,000

This project will create both a master’s and doctoral-level specialization in Socio-technical Data Analytics (SODA). Partnerships with local researchers and businesses who already work with large data-sets will enable MS graduates to receive first-hand experience with both the social and technical implications of large digital data collections, and thus be well-prepared for leadership roles in academic and corporate environments. Similarly, doctoral students will consider multiple stages of the information lifecycle, which will help to ensure that their research findings will generalize to a range of scholarly and business practices.


Institute of Museum and Library Services — $498,777

The Sowing Seeds project will establish a new community technology center (CTC) in Danville, Illinois, and expand basic training to this and four existing CTCs in Champaign-Urbana and East St. Louis, Iliinois. Basic skills are just the gateway, however. The grant will allow for expansion of our advanced digital media training focused on the development of skills necessary to meet the NETS standards of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).


Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity — $116,457

Time affects information retrieval in many ways. Collections of documents change as new items are indexed. The content of documents themselves may change. Users submit queries at particular moments in time. And perhaps most importantly, people’s assessment of a document’s relevance to a query is often time-dependent. For example, searchers of news archives might seek information on a past event where relevant documents cluster in a window of time. Users of social media services such as Twitter demand topically relevant information that is new. People who monitor particular topics in the news (for example, editors of Wikipedia) take action when they find information that is topically relevant and that changes current knowledge. The traces of information created by change in documents,...


National Science Foundation — $408,908

For over two millennia, librarians have played a critical role in the production and transmission of knowledge. They have helped to collect, catalogue, and curate a vast range of materials that constitute much of our cultural heritage - from epic poetry on papyrus scrolls to PDFs of scholarly articles. This project interrogates these practices by building a librarian's cabinet of curiosity, and populating it with explicit examples of the mundane activities that occur in and around the library.


University of Illinois Research Board — $6,500

Researchers rely on collections of books and other materials to support their scholarship. From these collections, scholars select, organize, and refine the worksets that will answer to their particular research objectives. The requirements for those worksets are becoming increasingly sophisticated and complex, both as humanities scholarship has become more interdisciplinary and as it has become more digital.

The HathiTrust Research Center (HTRC) is developing computational research access to some 10 million volumes (3 billion pages) to the HathiTrust corpus, a digital library of millions of books and other materials digitized by the Google Books project and other mass-digitization efforts. The HTRC is a collaborative research center launched jointly by Indiana University and...


Andrew W. Mellon Foundation — $436,525