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SIS Awarded IMLS Grant to Train Science Librarian Liaisons

CALL team at UT

Members of the CALL team at UT are, back row from left: Associate Professor Wade Bishop; Chancellor’s Professor Carol Tenopir; Amy Forrester, Research Coordinator for CICS; Chancellor’s Professor Suzie Allard; UT Librarian Peter Fernandez. Front row from left, MSIS students: Shafer Powell, Ashley Orehek, Erika Fitzpatrick and Hannah Armendarez.

Faculty from the School of Information Sciences, along with the University of Denver (DU), UT Libraries and many more collaborators, were awarded a Lifelong Learning Project grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ (IMLS) Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program. The Collaborative Analysis Liaison Librarians (CALL) master’s level instructional program will build curriculum for liaison librarianship, and fund the education of a cohort of 14 on-campus students pursuing science library liaison roles.

The grant’s principal investigator is SIS Associate Professor Wade Bishop, who said the project will create skilled professionals to fill emerging roles for liaisons in various science-focused agencies.

“Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Geological Survey, National Center for Atmospheric Research – they all need more information professionals with science backgrounds at these agencies,” Bishop said.

Curriculum for a new SIS pathway will be created as part of the CALL project, which will educate a cohort of 14 leaders from at UT and DU in science library liaison roles and every student will complete an immersive practicum in a participating science agency.

“By working with the students and learning what their needs are, we can construct curriculum. Also, interacting with students who are asking questions will help our own internal training and procedures,” said Peter Fernandez, an agricultural sciences and natural resources librarian with UT Libraries and CALL senior personnel.

Bishop said another component of the project is conducting job analyses by way of surveys and interviews with people in different communities of practice to ensure the curriculum is informed by real-world practice.

Chancellor’s Professor Suzie Allard is a co-principal investigator on CALL, and said the two universities involved have unique ties to the science community that differentiated them from others vying for the competitive IMLS grant.

“Tennessee is the only university with a full-time paid librarian liaison between a university and a national lab,” Allard pointed out.

There are currently four SIS students in the initial cohort: Hannah Armendarez, Erika Fitzpatrick, Ashley Orehek and Shafer Powell.

“I’ve been working in the environmental consulting industry and found the things I like – like database management,” Armendarez said, explaining why she decided to enter an information sciences program. “I didn’t know what a science librarian was but I had a friend tell me that it sounded like a job made up just for me.”

Then the opportunity to be a part of the CALL cohort arose, and it seemed to be the perfect chance to pursue science librarianship. The other three students echoed similar sentiments, though all of them are from different scientific backgrounds.

You can learn more about the project, it’s team members and the IMLS grant at the project’s website >>

The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services RE-13-19-0027-19.