School of Information Receives Grant to Study the Evolution of Information Work

AUSTIN, Texas — The School of Information at The University of Texas at Austin received a $500,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to educate doctoral graduate students about the evolving occupations of information professionals. As future faculty and scholars, these students will advance the study of information work in the nation’s information schools.

Recent technological and demographic changes are dramatically changing the scope of work performed by information professionals and the titles they hold.

The increasing digitization of information is altering the role of individuals charged with information creation, organization, preservation, and retrieval. Information professionals in the United States are also faced with a diverse influx of immigrants whose information needs may not be fully understood.

Successfully preparing graduates for work in these new environments requires faculty with a nuanced, interdisciplinary understanding of the wide range of roles that information professionals will play, as well as the new skills and knowledge they will need.

This grant provides fellowships for six doctoral students who will constitute the first cohort of future faculty specifically educated to take on this challenge. Working with faculty in the School of Information’s Information Work Research Group (IWRG), these students will

  • conduct rigorous, empirical analyses of information professionals’ work in a variety of settings and occupations
  • prepare curricular materials (including case studies, syllabi, short videos and instructional modules) for use in programs across the United States, with guidance on incorporating the skills and knowledge needed for tomorrow’s information professionals
  • publish their work studies to address the field’s new opportunities and challenges

The IWRG is a unique research group in the field of information studies that focuses on the study of information work and workers. Diane Bailey , principal investigator, and William Aspray , co-principal investigator, are joined by faculty colleagues Lecia Barker , James Howison , and Tanya Clement to guide and mentor the doctoral students who will receive fellowships under this grant.

The IMLS is a federal agency that has been and continues to be a strong supporter of the School of Information.

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