GRANT NAME: Rural Library Professionals as Change Agents in the 21st Century: Integrating Information Technology Competencies in the Southern and Central Appalachian Region [also known as the Information Technology Rural Librarian Master's Scholarship Program] (ITRL)
The ITRL program in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee meets an urgent need for rural librarians in the Southern and Central Appalachian (SCA) region to develop information technology competencies and training in a master’s program (accredited by the American Library Association).
PROGRAM GOAL: To recruit, train, and educate 16 individuals who are working in the SCA region’s rural libraries to complete their master’s degree with a focus on information technology and rural librarianship via distance education. Students began the course of study in June 2010 and will complete their master's degrees in August 2012.
The ITRL program has a research component that continuously analyzes the effectiveness of students’ experiences in developing IT applications in their courses for their rural work environments. The research component includes collecting data on career choice, academic success, professional association participation, and the graduates’ evaluation of the program throughout their period of study. ITRL students’ success in attaining personal learning objectives and goals established in the first semester (by mentors and students) is also analyzed throughout the program. The key to the ongoing evaluation includes careful documentation of the several aspects of the project, with particular emphasis on which aspects were most successful and which needed to be refined.
PROGRAM INITIATIVE: The SCA region is experiencing information poverty and unemployment, economic challenges, low levels of information literacy and educational attainment, a lack of access/use of IT, and unique environmental challenges. Library professionals who are embedded in their communities are in a strong position to help address and develop solutions to these issues.
PROGRAM BENEFITS: ITRL is providing full-tuition scholarship for two years with an allowance for materials, part-time degree program with a structured, individually-tailored information technology and rural management-based curriculum with formal/informal professional mentoring by educators and practitioners.
PROJECT DESIGN: The overall project design covered five phases. These phases include: recruitment of ITRL students from rural libraries in the SCA region; needs assessment of library services and information challenges faced by rural regional libraries; implementation of educational/ training activites; mentoring; and evaluation/assessment of program outcomes and dissemination of program results and experiences.
ITRL program information technology courses:
-Technology planning, assessment, and analysis
-Database and web design, development, and usability
-Building digital library, web portals, and Library 2.0 tools
-Establishing hardware and software configurations for networking systems
ITRL program rural librarianship courses:
-Service evaluation/assessment in rural libraries
-Planning/management of a rural library program for youth and adults
-Reader’s advisory and other information services
-Grant writing and partnership development
For more details about ITRL, check the links on the left side of the page.
CONTACT: If you are interested in discussing ITRL's research component, please contact Associate Professor Dr. Bharat Mehra at 865-974-5917 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PARTNERS: SIS faculty Drs. Bharat Mehra, Kimberly Black and Vandana Singh partnered with the Clinch-Powell Regional Library (Susan Simmons), Sevier County Public Library System (KC Williams), and the Watauga Regional Library (Nancy Renfro) to implement the grant project. The Nolichucky Regional Library (Don Reynolds) has also partnered in project activities since the grant was awarded. Though all project partners were located in the East Tennessee region, representatives from other regional and county library systems in the SCA region were also contacted to elicit their participation in the various activities identified in the grant proposal.