Posted September 17, 2018
By Abe Danaher, communications assistant
The Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded Vanessa Kitzie and Jennifer Arns,
faculty in the School of Library and Information Science, grants for research focused
on public libraries and their effect on local communities.
Vanessa Kitzie, SLIS assistant professor, is the principle investigator on a grant awarded by the
Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian program. The grant, worth almost $300,000, will examine how public
libraries can serve as a critical resource for health information among LGBTQ+ people.
Kitzie recognizes that there is an information gap experienced by LGBTQ+ people as
they search for relevant and meaningful health information that does not stigmatize
their identities, and she believes that public libraries are uniquely positioned to
address that. With her research, she hopes to take a major step forward in closing
“Getting the grant is an awesome feeling, but the key concern going through my mind
— which I don’t think will go away any time soon — is the responsibility I have to get it right,” said Kitzie. “For me that means going
beyond my personal assumptions of who I should talk to, what I should do, and how
I interpret my data, to make sure these actions are community-led in a way that avoids
a singular vision of who an ‘authentic’ LGBTQ+ person is or what their health-related
information practices look like.”
Associate Professor Jennifer Arns is the principal investigator on a grant awarded
by the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program. Instructor Clayton Copeland will work beside her as the grant’s co-principal investigator. Their $219,000 grant
will be used to develop a clearer picture of the many ways that public libraries contribute
to the prosperity and well-being of those who live in their service areas.
This grant is a follow-up to a previous grant received by Arns, where she found that it
is reasonable to assert that Americans typically receive benefits in the range of
$5 to $6 for every $1 they spend on public library services. The new grant will enable
Arns to update and expand these findings, and allow libraries to show, in purely economic
terms, how they benefit communities.
“The thing is, the people who have to parse out scarce public funding have to have
some sort of way of comparing value,” said Arns. “And as well as telling the library’s
story, which in itself is a very rich and qualitative story, they most recently have
been asked for dollars and cents assessments. We think that it is important that when
public libraries go to the table, they also have a strong hand.”
In total, 186 preliminary proposals were received by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, to which only 45 grants were awarded.
For Dick Kawooya, interim director of SLIS, these grants are evidence that high quality research is
being conducted both within the School of Library and Information Sciences and the
university. He is confident that externally funded grants such as these will continue
to be received within the school.
Kawooya said, “We are committed to research. We believe that this is only the beginning
and that we will see more external funded research grants coming our way at both the
school and the college.”
Abe Danaher is the communications assistant for the College of Information and Communications. A journalism
minor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Danaher is in his last
semester at USC. He is from Syracuse, New York.