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College of Information and Communications

August 2016

From the Dean. . .

David Lankes has joined us as director of our School of Library and Information Science and associate dean in the College of Information and Communications.

I asked David to share his thoughts in this space this month while I take a few days off. I’ll also be at the AEJMC conference for journalism educators this week in Minneapolis and look forward to seeing alumni there.

We’ve also included a note from Kim Jeffcoat, executive director of the South Carolina Center for Children’s Books and Literacy, thanking those who supported the Cocky’s Reading Express ™ crowdfunding campaign.


Charles Bierbauer

Being Truthful, Not Neutral

In a recent interview Christiane Amanpour of CNN challenged one of the underlying principles of both journalism and librarianship by calling upon journalists to be “truthful, not neutral.” She talked about how attempting to appear neutral can lead to the creation of false equivalencies, and it is better to be truthful, even if that appears to be taking sides. This idea of intellectual honesty is at the very core of scholarship as well. Scientists seek to apply objective methods in fields they are passionate about. It is not unusual to hear a chemist, a botanist or, indeed, an information scientist recall a story from their childhood that led them to academia and research.

These ideas are very much in the forefront of my thinking upon joining the University of South Carolina. The fact that the university is ranked as a top research institution and noted for community engagement was a major reason I chose to join the faculty. Good scholarship is instrumental in an ongoing effort to improve our communities and society as a whole. When a school, college or, indeed, a university is at its best, it provides an open and diverse platform for exploration. It is a place for undergraduates to learn and question everything. It is a place for professors to explore the reaches of the heavens and the extent of our humanity. It is a place where society can bring its thorniest problems for reflection and examination. A good university, like a good library, is a safe place to explore dangerous ideas.

This is certainly true of the College of Information and Communications. In our labs and classrooms, scholars, practitioners, staff and students all are continually learning to navigate the delicate route between a search for truth and a clarion call for action. A good librarian, a good journalist, a good information scientist are never neutral: they are principled. We prepare ourselves, our students and our communities not into an ideology, but a constant quest to do both well, and good. We prepare people for the job market, but also as citizens in a marketplace of ideas. We arm them not with ideology, but with perspective and healthy skepticism. And it is here that I must ask for your help.

I am convinced that the best learning happens in the richest information environment. Diversity is the key to both validity and social responsibility. As the new director of the School of Library and Information Science I need your help in building a diverse learning space. In the classroom and labs and the halls of Davis College the faculty and I seek to facilitate a rich tapestry of ideas and viewpoints. We need the experiences of alumni and practitioners. The faculty, staff, and students of the school need you to share your passion and your truths. A school, a college, a university, indeed every organization is a conversation. It is a series of voices seeking action and outcome, be it profit, or literacy, or valid study. In the fields of library and information science it is a conversation that started millennia ago with the first libraries in Mesopotamia and that continues today in the work of Google and the Library of Congress alike.

Be a part of that conversation. In the coming months keep an eye on the school website. We will be posting opportunities for speakers and projects. We plan on hosting get-togethers for alumni and partners across the state and the country. But you don’t have to wait to be asked. Find us in Davis College, or on the web, or social media.


David Lankes 

Thank you for supporting Cocky’s Reading Express

USC’s first ever crowdfunding campaign was a huge success—Cocky’s Reading Express ™ raised $25,290 in 45 days

Thank you for donating, sharing our cause with your friends and families and believing in our mission. Your support will help us reach more children and their families in South Carolina over the coming year. We promise to use the magic of our beloved mascot, the energy of our bright college student volunteers and the power of a great book to inspire the next generation.

As always, keep up with where we are making a difference on our website or social media @cockyreads.


Kim Jeffcoat 

College News

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Mentor Match

Next month, students from the College of Information and Communications will gather for a chance to develop professional connections with alumni, begin building their networks and get coached by industry leaders. Mentors are needed from each of the college’s areas of study. Interested in participating? Learn more and sign up here.

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Library of Congress awards major grant to library school

The Charleston church shooting was the catalyst for this grant application designed to educate South Carolina teachers and librarians about primary sources available through the Library of Congress, including civil rights resources, and how to effectively use them in libraries and classrooms.


Outstanding students and faculty recognized at conference  

School of Journalism and Mass Communications graduate students and faculty have once again been recognized nationally. More than four research papers were named winners and another two dozen accepted by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (AEJMC). The conference will be held August 4-7 in Minneapolis.


This is what a maker space looks like

 The School of Library and Information Science’s state-wide maker space workshops earned a mention on the White House’s Nation of Makers Initiative fact sheet. Maker spaces are one of Dr. Heather Moorefield-Lang’s areas of research. She gave a standing-room-only presentation to the American Library Association Annual Conference to provide a closer look at this emerging movement in library programming.