Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

Three Libraries and School of Information Studies Faculty Receive Promotions

Three Libraries and School of Information Studies Faculty Receive Promotions

April 20th, 2023

Congratulations to the three Libraries and School of Information Studies faculty whose promotions were recently approved by the Purdue University Board of Trustees, effective August 14, 2023.

Ningning Nicole Kong: Professor 

headshot of Dr. Ningning Nicole Kong

Dr. Ningning Nicole Kong joined the Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies as an Assistant Professor and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist in Fall 2012 and received her promotion to Associate Professor with tenure in 2018. Dr. Kong’s work at Purdue has focused on applying geospatial information and technology across various disciplines and user groups, including developing multi-disciplinary learning programs, enabling easy access to geospatial information, and leading the spatial analysis/visualization portion of research projects. Within Purdue University, she has created and led the Graduate Certificate Program in Geospatial Information Science (GIS) with a team of faculty and staff from 7 colleges and 2 academic units at Purdue. She has been serving as the director for the IndianaView Program, a state chapter for the national program AmericaView, for four years. She has successfully led and continued to grow the IndianaView Consortium, which now includes 16 institutions across Indiana with almost 70 faculty and staff members affiliated. Through her leadership, the Libraries has been designated as one of the first nine participating institutions of Esri Innovation Program (EIP) across the nation. In 2020, Dr. Kong was recognized as an internationally leading GIS expert by Esri with a Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award. She has served as the current Associate Dean for Research in Libraries since 2021.

What’s next for Kong at Purdue Libraries? “I will continue to promote and integrate geospatial information into interdisciplinary research and teaching. The GIS certificate program has been fruitful and we have graduated students from agriculture, engineering, science, business, and anthropology. I hope to continuously grow student enrollment and expand to more disciplines. In the Associate Dean for Research role, I hope to continue to promote and advocate Research Excellence Areas in Libraries (REALs) under the new challenges, including research data management, mis/dis/mal information, knowledge synthesis, generative AI in connection with information literacy, etc.”

Jane Kinkus Yatcilla: Professor

Headshot of Dr. Jane Yatcilla

Professor Jane Kinkus Yatcilla’s career at Purdue Libraries dates back to 2001. Her areas of research interest include bibliometric analysis, citation context analysis, and evidence synthesis. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Anthrozoos, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Journal of the Medical Library Association, and Journal of Library Administration. In her own words, Yatcilla describes her career: “Academic librarianship has changed drastically since I entered the field in the early ‘90s. I have had the opportunity to do things as a Purdue Libraries faculty member that I probably couldn’t have envisioned back then, including designing and teaching credit courses, participating as a full member on other faculty’s research teams, and developing my own research agenda. In recent years my research has focused on using bibliometric techniques to better understand multidisciplinary fields like human-animal interactions (HAI) research, as well as collaborating on systematic reviews with colleagues from across campus (and around the world), both of which have been very rewarding.”

What’s next for Yatcilla at Purdue Libraries? “Going forward, I plan to continue my work supporting human-animal interactions research, including the HABRI Central web platform for HAI research materials, and following up on the numerous HAI-related research questions on my to-do list. And I expect that evidence synthesis projects will remain a key element in my research collaborations across campus. I also look forward to focusing on teaching, especially the Libraries’ systematic review course and my information skills course for new graduate students in the health sciences. Some of the most gratifying moments of my career have come through getting to know Purdue graduate students and helping them in tangible ways with these courses.”

Matthew N. Hannah: Associate Professor

headshot of Dr. Matthew Hannah

Dr. Matthew N. Hannah joined the Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies in 2018. Dr. Hannah’s research focuses on digital humanities, information studies and literacies, and online conspiracy theories, and his writing has most recently appeared in Social Media + Society, First Monday, The Journal of Magazine Media, and Collection Management, among others. In addition, he has a chapter forthcoming in the field-defining Debates in the Digital Humanities in 2023. Dr. Hannah’s teaching focuses on exploring challenging problems at the intersection of technology and culture, and he’s offered innovative courses at Purdue such as American Conspiracy Theories, Diplomacy Lab, #Anonymous, Digital Humanities Foundations, and Dead Media. Dr. Hannah also launched the first certificate offering in the School of Information Studies with the Digital Humanities Graduate Certificate. Alongside Associate Professor Bethany McGowan, Dr. Hannah offered the Diplomacy Lab project, which featured a collaboration between Purdue students and officials in the U.S. Department of State on a global information challenge. Before coming to Purdue, he was an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Scholar in Public and Digital Humanities at the University of Iowa’s Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, and he received his PhD in English from the University of Oregon.

What’s next for Hannah at Purdue Libraries? “I plan to continue my research into challenging information dynamics surrounding social media and the internet, focusing particularly on the problematic of online conspiracy theories. Future projects will develop opportunities to collaborate with Purdue’s talented students to develop “de-radicalization” toolkits, providing resources for individuals to help family and friends escape from conspiracism, and I hope to develop such resources for state and local governments, to ensure that Hoosiers have a resource for healthy information practices and anti-conspiratorial thinking.”

Thinking Creatively About Theses

May 29th, 2019

On Thursday, May 23, a Symposium on Electronic Theses and Dissertations was held at Purdue University. Ashlee Messersmith, manager, thesis/dissertation, The Graduate School at Purdue University, and Michael Witt, associate professor, Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies, organized the event, with support from the United States Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Association (USETDA).

By Michael Witt, Head, Distributed Data Curation Center (D2C2), and Associate Professor of Library Science

"Purdue Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Policy Changes: Giant Leaps Forward" at the Symposium on Electronic Dissertations and Theses May 23 in Purdue's Wilmeth Active Learning Center.
Ashlee Messersmith (far left) and James L. Mohler, deputy chair, The Graduate School at Purdue, and professor in computer graphics technology (CGT), presented “Purdue Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Policy Changes: Giant Leaps Forward” at the Symposium on Electronic Theses and Dissertations May 23 in Purdue’s Wilmeth Active Learning Center.

The presenters at the Symposium on Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) highlighted a wide variety of creative works produced by graduate students in earning their degrees, such as:

  • a newly discovered chemical structure with directions for building your own model of it using a 3D printer;
  • training materials for board game designers to help them write better instructions for teaching people how to play their games; and
  • an online map of the state of Indiana with embedded ecological data to improve natural resource management.

Graduate students will typically prepare and defend a written thesis, even if their research can be communicated in a more meaningful or impactful format than a document. There are other examples, such as software source code and research data, videos and photos from exhibits and performances, mixed media, dynamic websites, and much more produced by students; but this type of content is often left out of a traditional thesis.

Professor and Dean of Libraries at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Martin Halbert addressed the landscape and life cycle of electronic theses and dissertations, as well as the ETDPlus resource Symposium on Electronic Theses and Dissertations on May 23 at Purdue University.
On May 23, Professor and Dean of Libraries at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Martin Halbert addressed the landscape and life cycle of electronic theses and dissertations, as well as the ETDPlus resource, at the Symposium on Electronic Theses and Dissertations at Purdue University.

In some cases, these non-traditional works could be considered as the primary product of the students’ scholarship — without the need for a written thesis.

Recent changes to the policies of Purdue’s Graduate School reflect a progressive approach and support for non-traditional theses, embracing both the opportunities and challenges they present for the Purdue’s faculty, thesis office, and libraries.

“As emerging technologies continue to influence higher education, we needed to set a precedent through which students are permitted to express their creativity,” Messersmith explained. “Exploring these influences and their implications was the focus of the symposium, which was held in the Wilmeth Active Learning Center. We invited experts to share ideas and brainstorm with participants who supervise theses and manage the processes and platforms for producing and archiving them.”

Guiding Graduate Students in Data Management in Practice
Michael Witt presented “Guiding Graduate Students in Data Management in Practice” at the ETD Symposium May 23 at Purdue. Witt’s presentation covered the Purdue University Research Repository (PURR), which helps university researchers plan and implement effective data management plans, share and manage their data with collaborators while the research is taking place, publish their data in a scholarly context, archive data for the long-term, and measure the impact of sharing their data.

The opening keynote presentation by Professor and Dean of Libraries at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Martin Halbert addressed the landscape and life cycle of electronic theses and dissertations, as well as the ETDPlus resource.

The closing keynote, delivered by Jean-Pierre Hérubel, professor, Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies, dove into the history and culture of the doctoral dissertation, as well as variations and transformations of its purpose and form.

Other presentations from Purdue faculty and staff explored issues related to student perspectives, digital humanities, graduate college policies, research data management, digital preservation, and scholarly publishing. Throughout the symposium, participants discussed important questions related to sharing current practices; interfacing with faculty to observe and respect local cultures related to credentialing students; identifying concerns and opportunities for graduate colleges, libraries, and technology providers; and increasing collaboration within the University and among universities. A lively round of lightning talks in the afternoon featured specific examples of theses that challenge conventions from other universities.

Presentation slides and collaborative notes from the symposium are available on Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies’ e-Pubs repository at


Stonebraker Elected to Leadership Position in American Library Assn. Division

April 27th, 2018

Ilana Stonebraker, Purdue Libraries
Ilana Stonebraker, Purdue Libraries

Purdue Libraries Assistant Professor Ilana Stonebraker was elected vice chair/chair elect of the Business Reference and Services Section (BRASS) of the American Library Association RUSA (Reference and User Services) Division in mid-April.

Stonebraker, who works in the Roland G. Parrish Library of Management and Economics and teaches courses in the Purdue Krannert School of Management, will begin her vice chair post July 1 (2018). As vice chair, she will coordinate appointments to BRASS’s 16 committees.

On July 1, 2019, Stonebraker will move into the BRASS chair position, in which she will coordinate division reviews, serve as the head executive for the section, and help create new initiatives. (For more information, visit

In early April, Stonebraker was promoted to associate professor with tenure (beginning July 1, 2018). In 2017, she was recognized by the Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT) for her article “Toward informed leadership: Teaching students to make better decisions using information.” The piece, published in November in the Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, is recognized as one of the “Top Twenty Articles of 2016” by LIRT in its June 2017 newsletter. Also in 2017, Stonebraker was also recognized as a Library Journal 2017 “Mover and Shaker.”

Kirkwood Elected President of Special Libraries Assn.

September 21st, 2017

Hal Kirkwood, Purdue University Libraries
Hal Kirkwood, Purdue University Libraries

Hal Kirkwood, associate professor and business information specialist at the Roland G. Parrish Library of Management & Economics at Purdue University Libraries, was recently elected the president of the Special Libraries Association; he will serve as the SLA’s president in 2019.

Since joining SLA in 1992, Kirkwood has held several leadership roles within the association, including serving as president of the Indiana Chapter, chair of the Business & Finance Division, and director on the SLA Board of Directors (2012-2014). He will rejoin the SLA Board of Directors January 1, 2018, and serve as president-elect in 2018, president in 2019, and past president in 2020.

According to Kirkwood, the Special Libraries Association is an international and interdisciplinary organization representing information professionals in academic, corporate, government, intergovernmental, and other areas often not fully represented by the American Library Association, the other national organization that represents information professionals.

“As SLA president, I hope to influence its role, services, and mission by seeking creative solutions, developing unique collaborations, and listening to the members to fulfill their expectations and needs,” he noted.

For more information, see the official SLA release at

Libraries Professor Mykytiuk Verifies Existence of 53 People Mentioned in Hebrew Bible

June 7th, 2017

This release was written by Purdue News Service staff and was published online June 6, 2017.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Lawrence Mykytiuk cannot document that everything in the Bible took place. What the Purdue University Libraries professor can do is show you that many of the people written about did, in fact, exist.

“While some would put their hand on the Bible and really mean it when they take an oath, a few revisionist academics would throw it out and say, ‘That’s creative writing.’ I was looking for concrete, objective evidence outside of the Bible that would help build the case,” said Mykytiuk, an associate professor of library science.

Mykytiuk (pronounced MICK-ee-took) has added three names to the previously published 50 Old Testament individuals in the Bible, beginning with King David, all of whom he says he has verified through his research. The three new people are Tattenai (also translated as Tatnai), a Persian governor during the time of Ezra (after the Babylonian exile); and two high officials of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II: Nergal-sharezer, called the “samgar” official, and Nebuzaradan, “the chief of the guards.”

Tattenai is mentioned in the fifth chapter of the book of Ezra. He also is mentioned outside of the Bible in a letter on a clay tablet from Persian King Darius I the Great, in the year 502 B.C.

According to the Bible, Nergal-sharezer and Nebuzaradan were high officials of King Nebuchadnezzar II, who in 586 B.C. destroyed the First Temple, as well as Jerusalem, and exiled most of the remaining population of Judah. They are mentioned at the scene of the destruction in Jeremiah 39:3 and 39:9, respectively, and Nebuzaradan also is mentioned in 2 Kings, Chapter 25. Their king included them in a contemporaneous list of his courtiers that was written on clay tablets.

Mykytiuk has written about his latest findings in Biblical Archeology Review.

“When you verify that a person existed, you’re not usually verifying that they did what the Bible says they did, because you don’t usually get that much information in the inscription or in the Bible,” Mykytiuk said. “If you get the person’s name, his or her father’s name, and the person’s office or title, that doesn’t verify that they did certain things. But it can sometimes show they were in a position to do the things Scripture says they did. That’s often as far as you can go. Still, there are some longer inscriptions from ancient Israel’s neighbors that mention people and events in the Old Testament, just describing them from a different point of view.”

When verifying an individual, Mykytiuk goes through a painstaking three-step process:

Data is checked to make sure it is from an authentic inscription and not forged. Settings from historical documents are matched up to confirm that the person’s time and socio-political “place” (such as the kingdom of Judah) are the same. Mykytiuk considers a period of about 50 years between the person in the inscription and the person in the Bible as permissible, because an adult could be active for that amount of time.

At least three ways of identifying the individual in the Bible (such as the person’s name, the father’s name, and the person’s title) must match the same three identifying marks of the individual in the inscription. Three identifying matches are considered a lock, two are considered a reasonable hypothesis, or even a likely hypothesis for a match, but one is not enough.

“Sometimes the three-step process is not necessary, as when we know that the person in an inscription and the person in the Bible are both connected to a one-time circumstance or event that fits one and only one person,” Mykytiuk said. “For example, Ahab, king of Israel, ruled during the period in which the famous battle of Qarqar was fought in 853 B.C. His Assyrian enemy wrote about “Ahab the Israelite,” one of the kings he fought in that particular battle. Therefore, Ahab, king of Israel in the Bible, and Ahab, the Israelite king at the battle of Qarqar in the Assyrian inscription, must have been the same person.

After interpreting the inscription according to data from other inscriptions outside the Bible, only then does he compare it to the Bible. “To use biblical data as a determining factor in interpreting an inscription, and then to claim that the inscription confirms the Bible, opens the door to circular logic,” he said.

It’s easy to go online and find long lists proclaiming that they are filled with many more verified biblical figures, but Mykytiuk says many of those lists include forged inscriptions and do not guard against inaccuracies. He has published numerous articles on the subject, presented at academic conferences and taken questions from expert reviewers in biblical studies, ancient history, and archaeology, adjusting his criteria accordingly. Mykytiuk can also read languages used in ancient texts, such as those on monuments, signet rings, and seal impressions in lumps of clay, called bullae (singular: bulla), which were used to seal documents.

The languages he uses to read ancient inscriptions and the Bible include ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. He also reads inscriptions in various Canaanite dialects and in other ancient languages, such as Phoenician. And in order to keep up with recent scholarship on inscriptions, he reads articles in a few modern European languages.

Although the Hebrew Bible names almost 3,000 people, Mykytiuk states that for an overwhelming number of these, it only gives the person’s name and does not supply enough specific information about them to identify them in any other writing. The number of individuals for whom the Bible gives enough information to identify them specifically is far smaller, surely no more than a few hundred, he estimates. With 53 of the people mentioned in the Hebrew Bible now verified through years of research, Mykytiuk will move on to the New Testament, first with a BAR article on 23 verified political figures, then to another one covering about six religious figures. In 2015, he published an article in BAR titled, Did Jesus Exist? Searching for Evidence Beyond the Bible.

He calls such verifications his passion and says it’s important because, “This evidence shows that it is not essential to have religious faith in order to understand and accept much of what the Bible presents. It demonstrates that even on the basis of writings outside of the Bible alone, Scripture does have a considerable degree of historical credibility.”

Media contact: Tim Doty, 765-496-2571,

Source: Lawrence Mykytiuk, 765-494-3605,