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University of Iowa News Release

 

June 19, 2007

UI Receives Grant For Librarian Recruitment And Education

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has announced that the University of Iowa School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) has received $881,692 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to recruit and educate librarians.

The SLIS will use these funds to recruit two groups of 20 students who already have teaching certificates for its master's degree program in library and information science. They will receive fellowships to fund their master's degrees. Iowa Area Education Agencies, the State Library of Iowa and the Iowa Association of School Librarians will assist in the recruitment process. These funds will also help SLIS revise and refine its curriculum and delivery systems.

"I hope that with these funds, the University of Iowa will be able to make its excellent School of Library and Information Science even stronger," Harkin said. "Libraries play a crucial role in both preserving past discoveries and facilitating future scholarship. With decreasing numbers of librarians across the country, it is important to draw new professionals to this field and give them opportunities to excel."

An independent grant-making agency of the federal government, the Institute of Museum and Library Services has a defined, focused mission: to lead the effort to create and sustain a "nation of learners." Harkin is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations panel that funds library and education initiatives.

James Elmborg, director of the UI SLIS program, said the grant was written in response to recent state legislation requiring all Iowa school districts to have a licensed teacher librarian on staff.  He estimates that there could be up to 75 to 100 openings for school librarians in Iowa in the next two to three years.

"While we feel we're already very effective at educating information professionals, this grant will give us a chance to focus on our curriculum for teacher librarians in ways appropriate for the Internet age.  This means more and better use of information technology and more focus on helping students to be more effective users of information resources," Elmborg said. "Even very young students are often very technically savvy, but they really don't understand how information is produced or how to evaluate its usefulness in practical contexts.  We hope to educate librarians to be effective teachers of these skills."

The grant relies heavily on partnerships with the Iowa Area Education Agencies who will help the UI manage distance education resources for delivery of the degree across the state of Iowa, he added.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: James Elmborg, School of Library and Information Science, 319-335-5717; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012, george-mccrory@uiowa.edu