Two iSchool Faculty Members Awarded Highly Coveted Grant Funding


Professor Lili Luo and Assistant Professor Deborah Hicks of the School of Information at San José State University were recently awarded grants for their exemplary research efforts, bringing accolades to the iSchool and joining an extensive list of innovative faculty research activities.

National Forum of the Assessment of Scholarly Communications Programs

Luo has partnered with Emily Chan, associate dean for research and scholarship at San José State University’s Dr. Martin Luther King Library, to join the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant project titled “National Forum on the Assessment of Scholarly Communication Programs,” which was awarded funding in the amount of $149,384 over a two-year period.

With the support of the grant, SJSU’s King Library and the Sacramento State University Library will collaborate to hold a two-day forum that will be held online on May 4 and 5, 2020, and will focus on standards and best practices in evaluating scholarly communications programs at large master’s degree-granting public universities.

Attendees of the forum will include experts from library assessment that will present and lead discussions on how existing assessment techniques can be implemented for scholarly communication services. The forum will result in a report with recommendations for standards and a comprehensive set of best practices in assessing the range of services that comprise a scholarly communication program.  

As SJSU’s former scholarly communications librarian, Chan managed the campus institutional repository and led the library’s efforts in supporting scholarly communication. She will act as co-project investigator and will lead conversations regarding best practices in scholarly communication.

Luo, who will serve as the project evaluator, is the coordinator of the iSchool’s Center for Information Research and Innovation, a virtual research center aimed at generating innovative new practices, showcasing faculty and student research, and developing research products for the information profession.

Luo has been closely involved in designing and implementing the data collection instruments to gather input from librarians and campus stakeholders; she will serve a pivotal role in ensuring that the project fulfills its goals. Luo said she was drawn to the project because it focuses on an important area of academic librarianship, one of her primary research interests. “My role in this grant is to provide methodological expertise in the data gathering and analysis for the project,” she noted.

During the past two decades, academic libraries have begun to invest more broadly in scholarly communication through the allocation of staffing and resources, some of which are establishing institutional repositories.

“With new technologies and paradigms for creating and sharing work, scholars across all fields have seen changes in research output, dissemination and preservation of the scholarly record, emergent publishing models, and the measurement of scholarly impact,” Luo said. “This project can really help identify program and staffing priorities for scholarly communications, explore the kinds of assessment public institutions have in place for scholarly communication services and programs, and uncover any questions public institutions may have when assessing scholarly communication services and programs that current data cannot answer.”

Luo received her doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science, and currently teaches INFO 210 Reference and Information Services and INFO 285 Applied Research Methods in the iSchool’s Master of Library and Information Science degree program.

University Grants Academy

Hicks was recently selected to participate in the SJSU University Grants Academy. Sponsored by the Office of Research in the Division of Research and Innovation, the University Grants Academy is an intensive, semester-long experience designed to support faculty members through the process of writing a substantial external grant proposal to fund their Research, Scholarship and/or Creative Activity, also known as RSCA.

“The grant proposal I’m working on focuses on how public library leaders make complex decisions. Recently, the decisions of public library leaders have been the subject of debate and attention both within librarianship and in the media,” said Hicks. “For instance, several public libraries across the nation have asked drag queens to host their story time programs. This practice has created controversy and placed library leaders into situations where they have to take the needs of many different stakeholders into account.”

As Hicks’ example highlights, decisions made by librarians in formal leadership roles in public libraries can have a lasting impact on their organizations and communities. Understanding how library leaders make decisions, with emphasis on their sensemaking strategies “will shed light on this important aspect of public library leaders’ roles,” she said.

Hicks, who joined the iSchool in 2018 and currently teaches INFO 204 Information Professions in the MLIS program, received her PhD in Educational Administration and Leadership from the University of Alberta and her MLIS from Dalhousie University. She served as co-chair for the 2017 Canadian Association for Information Science Annual Conference and is the English book review editor for Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science.

“I was thrilled to learn I’d been accepted into the UGA!” said Hicks. “Well-designed and executed research requires money and support. The UGA affords faculty the opportunity to take full advantages of the research supports that SJSU has to offer.” 

The University Grants Academy is designed for tenured or tenure-track faculty members who have not yet received major external funding. The three primary goals of the University Grants Academy are: 1) to increase extramural support of faculty RSCA, 2) to introduce newer grant writers to the units and resources supporting grant writing at SJSU, and 3) to contribute to the intellectual culture and scholarship of the university by supporting faculty grant writing across the disciplines.

Hicks’ research and teaching focus on the professional identity of information professionals and how this informs the work they do, the organizations they run, and the relationships and communities they build. Her work has been published in Library QuarterlyLibrary Trends, and other LIS journals, as well as in her monograph, Technology and Professional Identity of Librarians: The Making of the Cybrarian, published in 2014. On February 19, 2020, Hicks presented as a panelist at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference — her presentation was about visual research methods.