Amelia Gibson awarded Kilgour Grant to study information seeking by young black women

Release date: 

October 19, 2016

Amelia Gibson, Assistant Professor in the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS), has been selected to receive the 2016 Eleanor M. and Frederick G. Kilgour Research Grant Award. These competitive awards were established in 2011 to support pilot projects by SILS faculty members. Research proposals are chosen based on their potential to positively impact career development and to receive subsequent funding from external agencies after the completion of preliminary work supported by the Kilgour grant.


Dr. Amelia Gibson

Gibson’s project, “Know That! Young Black Women and Personal Geographies of Information Seeking,” is intended to serve both as an examination and a validation of diverse ways of knowing, information seeking, and being in information spaces (such as the library) engaged by a group that is often marginalized in librarianship.

“For many young black women, information seeking is, like other behaviors, negotiated among conflicting needs, resources, and socially imposed limitations,” Gibson said. “Often, their ways of knowing and seeking are not acknowledged as valuable or ‘correct’ in discussions on information literacy and poverty.”

Specifically, the study will seek to answer how and where young black women seek information about their own well-being, including personal health, personal safety, and environmental health issues. It will also examine what social, cultural, and environmental factors influence the development of young black women’s information horizons, worlds, and information pathways, as well as what factors influence their decision-making about how, where, and when to engage in information-seeking.

“Dr. Gibson will investigate social interactions among understudied populations by leveraging her expertise in social media and geographic information systems,” said SILS Dean Gary Marchionini. “This is highly creative and timely work that she will leverage toward large scale projects in the years ahead.”

Gibson’s latest line of research grew out of her previous explorations of the influence of place and community on the information behaviors of parents of individuals with disabilities. The current study will collect qualitative data to be used for future grant applications, and enable Gibson to develop and test cohort building strategies, collaborate with peers who work with youth, and establish relationships with community members and professionals who work with teen girls in surrounding counties in anticipation of future research opportunities.

About the Eleanor M. and Frederick G. Kilgour Research Grant Award
Inventor, researcher, librarian and educator, Dr. Frederick G. Kilgour revolutionized the way libraries network and store information with his invention of the WorldCat database in 1971. He founded the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), the first and largest online library network in the world, in 1967 and served as its president until 1980. He was a Distinguished Research Professor at SILS from 1990 to 2004. While at SILS, he saw the critical need for faculty support resulting in he and Mrs. Kilgour creating the Eleanor M. and Frederick G. Kilgour Faculty Development Fund in 1993. The library and information science world was saddened by his Dr. Kilgour’s passing on July 31, 2006.