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Dr. Alison J. Head

Dr. Alison J. Head

Purdue University Libraries has been selected as the academic library system to host Project Information Literacy’s new Visiting Research Scholar program during the 2017-18 academic year.

The Project Information Literacy (PIL) program will provide Purdue Libraries faculty researchers with access to a research consultant in the form of expert information literacy researcher Alison Head, the founder and executive director of PIL. Throughout the academic year, Head—who is also a senior researcher at the metaLAB at Harvard—will mentor Purdue Libraries researchers on their scholarly research projects, both large and small, through the PIL’s Visiting Research Scholar program.

“We are thrilled Purdue Libraries has been selected as the 2017-18 home of Project Information Literacy’s Visiting Research Scholar program,” noted Libraries Dean James L. Mullins. “The PIL program will give our faculty members a unique opportunity to work with a pre-eminent leader in information literacy research, and we anticipate the PIL program will further develop their research skills. We look forward to working with Dr. Head in her mentoring role this coming year in the Libraries,” he added.

As the selected library organization for the Visiting Research Scholar program this academic year, Purdue Libraries will benefit from having access to two research methods webinars, as well as 15-20 one-on-one research consultations, via video, with Purdue Libraries researchers conducted by Head. She will also travel to Purdue University and deliver a campus-wide keynote presentation during her on-site visit as part of the program.

“Purdue Libraries has a vibrant community of information literacy researchers working on a range of groundbreaking research projects. That’s why I selected Purdue Libraries as the host institution this year. In addition, information literacy is clearly a top priority for the entire Purdue University campus,” she said.

About PIL and the Visiting Research Scholar Program

According to Head, the PIL Visiting Research Scholar program began with a pilot phase in 2016-17 at the University of Nebraska Library.

“The program’s sole purpose has been for PIL to provide a year of research consultations, so that librarians may be become more qualified and improved information literacy researchers,” Head explained.

Since 2008, Head and her team of PIL researchers have interviewed and surveyed over 13,000 undergraduates at more than 60 U.S. four-year public and private universities and colleges and two-year community colleges. PIL has published nine open-access research reports as part of the ongoing study.

In a 2016 Inside Higher Education column, Barbara Fister called PIL: “hands-down the most important long-term, multi-institutional research project ever launched on how students use information for school and beyond.”

Articles about PIL’s work have also appeared in The Atlantic Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Education Week, Inside Higher Education, Library Journal, and The Seattle Times.

Head also led the 2007 exploratory information literacy study, a forerunner to PIL, at Saint Mary’s College of California, where she taught as the Disney Visiting Professor in New Media for 10 years.

Head earned her Ph.D. in information science, as well as her MLS and BA degrees, from U.C. Berkeley. She was awarded the inaugural S. T. Lee Lectureship in Library Leadership and Innovation at Harvard Library for 2017-19. In addition, she has been a Research Fellow and a Faculty Associate and at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, as well as a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, where she studied human-computer interaction.

Learn more about PIL at www.projectinfolit.org.