The University Record, May 9, 1994

SILS receives $4.3 million grant from Kellogg Foundation

By Kate Kellogg
News and Information Services

The School of Information and Library Studies (SILS) has received a $4.3 million grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to provide national leadership in educating information professionals for the 21st century.

“The Kellogg Foundation’s grant is a splendid affirmation of the new directions that SILS is taking to educate information professionals for the future,” says Provost Gilbert R. Whitaker Jr. “I congratulate the faculty and dean of SILS for generating this support which will enable rapid pursuit of their objectives.”

SILS Dean Daniel E. Atkins III says the five-year grant “will provide for restructuring of SILS’ learning environment to produce professionals in the age of digital information.” The School also will form a national, multidisciplinary consortium to define new areas of professional specialization to serve society’s needs for information access.

“We are extremely pleased to be part of the Kellogg Foundation’s initiative to make human resources a central part of the global information infrastructure initiatives,” Atkins says. “It gives us the opportunity to collaborate with scholars at other institutions and in other disciplines to create new human-centered information systems.”

By the end of this century, Atkins says, 98 percent of all new information will be created and stored in digital formats. “SILS students and faculty, therefore, need access to an environment that permits hands-on learning and research in providing library and archival services in the emerging digital information world.

“We see a growing need to educate a professional with understanding and deep commitment to human users of information, as well as with the ability to use and shape digital systems technology to serve users’ needs,” Atkins says. “We intend to educate professionals with broad competency in information systems, not simply to house the separate areas of librarianship, applied computer science and management information systems in one administrative unit.”

The School is taking the “collaboratory” approach toward these goals, Atkins added, emphasizing distance learning as it redesigns educational content and the way it is delivered. Using the collaboratory model of electronic communities, in which users communicate with each other from remote sites, SILS faculty will explore such possibilities as team teaching and offering courses to students at off-campus sites.

Graduate fellowship awards are another component of the Kellogg grant program. Four fellowships will be awarded in the first two years of the program and eight-to-10 in the last three years. The School will recruit students for these awards from a highly competitive national pool of “pace setters” with a variety of backgrounds such as science, business, engineering, computer science and design.

In addition, SILS will use the Kellogg grant to hire new faculty members in such areas as community information systems and knowledge-based resource management. The first will provide additional leadership for the future of public libraries and school media centers. The second will help develop new environments that bring together electronic publishing, libraries and new means of conducting and disseminating research.

In later phases of the grant program, the School will create several pilot projects with Michigan libraries and schools, which will become laboratories for faculty, students and practitioners.

“The pilot projects will focus on developing new ways to create and access information, providing research opportunities for faculty, internships for our students, and hands-on, continuing education for practitioners in the field,” Atkins says. “These projects will serve as living specifications for new information environments to meet the needs of Michigan citizens.”

Underlying all these activities is the building of a coalition of collaborators, Atkins notes. The coalition will include experts, advisers, potential employers and other stake-holders in the education of human resources to support information systems and services. Most of them will be faculty in information disciplines, and practitioners in libraries, archives and media centers.