Alison Head is visiting scholar in University Libraries

· 3 min read

Alison Head is visiting scholar in University Libraries

UNL's Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, located in Love Library (pictured), has awarded three fellowships through the Digital Scholarship Incubator. The awards support and develop student-led digital humanities research that extends beyond the classroom.
Craig Chandler | University Commiunications
Love Library

University Libraries has selected Alison Head, founder and director of Project Information Literacy, as its visiting scholar for the 2016-17 academic year.

As visiting scholar, Head will launch PIL’s latest research study, which looks at undergraduates’ research behaviors in library learning spaces. University of Nebraska-Lincoln sophomores, juniors and seniors will be included in the study’s focus group sample, along with undergraduates from 10 other U.S. community colleges and four-year public and private colleges. Erica DeFrain, assistant professor of University Libraries, will work with Head on the project.

Head will visit Nebraska in late March for several days to conduct student focus groups and deliver a keynote presentation for the Libraries’ Visiting Scholar program. The keynote will feature a discussion of teaching, learning, work and librarianship in the 21st century. Throughout the year, Head will be available to the libraries’ faculty through virtual consultations to discuss strategies for librarians wanting to conduct research projects of their own.

“It is an exciting opportunity to have Head serve as the libraries’ visiting scholar,” said Nancy J. Busch, dean of libraries. “She will help the library faculty at UNL, UNO, UNK and UNMC better understand students and their research needs so that we can incorporate the best practices into current and future services.”

Head is a research affiliate at Harvard University’s metaLAB, a research group studying the future of libraries. She has a doctoral degree in library and information science from the University of California at Berkeley, where she also graduated with a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric. Her research about today’s students and their information practices began with a small study at Saint Mary’s College of California, where she taught as the Roy O. Disney Visiting Professor in New Media for 10 years. Prior to this appointment, she was a visiting scholar in symbolic systems at Stanford University.

Project Information Literacy is an ongoing research study in the United States that has investigated how college students conceptualize and operationalize research tasks for course work and everyday use. Since 2008, Head and her team of researchers have interviewed or surveyed more than 11,000 undergraduates at nearly 60 U.S. universities, colleges and community colleges. In 2016, Inside Higher Education called PIL “hands-down the most important long-term, multi-institutional research project ever launched on how students use information for school and beyond.”

PIL has produced eight open-access research reports, with a ninth due this fall. The latest study, which DeFrain worked on, is about the best practices architects and librarians use for designing user-centered library space. Also available are a host of learning tools, including videos, infographics, podcasts, “Smart Talk” interviews and the “Practical PIL” page showcasing innovative library projects.

For more information on Head’s research and Project Information Literacy, click here.

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