SILS Year-in-Review 2017

December 15, 2017

The UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) had a great year in 2017. Watch the video and find summaries and links to more information below.


Jaime Arguello and Mohammad Hossein Jarrahi win University Teaching Awards
Two SILS faculty members received University Teaching Awards in 2017. Jaime Arguello won the Distinguished Teaching Award for Post-Baccalaureate Instruction, and Mohammad Hossein Jarrahi won the Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Christopher “Cal” Lee named SAA Fellow, editor of American Archivist
SILS Professor Christopher A. “Cal” Lee was inducted as a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) during a ceremony at the SAA Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon, July 23–29. The distinction of fellow is the highest honor bestowed on individuals by the organization. Also in July, SAA announced Lee’s appointment as editor of the The American Archivist, beginning in January 2018 and continuing for three years.

Mary Grace Flaherty travels to Malawi on Fulbright Award
SILS Assistant Professor Mary Grace Flaherty traveled to Malawi for her Fulbright Award and wrote two new books in 2017. During her time in Malawi, Flaherty helped renovate libraries, bring in new books, and, with SILS Associate Professor Cliff Missen, worked to install a WiderNet eGranary at Kwithu Kitchen in Luwinga. Flaherty published The Library Staff Development Handbook: How to Maximize Your Library’s Most Important Resource and completed Promoting Individual and Community Health at the Library, set for publication in spring 2018. 

Brian Sturm shares expertise in China
During his 27-day visit to China this summer, SILS Associate Professor Brian Sturm gave presentations and workshops in seven different cities: Tianjin, Baoding, Shanghai, Fuzhou, Ningbo, Shenzhen, and Zhongshan. In addition to the storytelling performances, he delivered lectures focused on the history and current state of youth librarianship in America.

Zeynep Tufekci continues to shape techno-social conversations
SILS Associate Professor Zeynep Tufekci contributed valuable insights on the impact of social media and the growing influence of machine algorithms through interviews promoting her book, Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest, commentary and op-eds for the New York Times and other national news outlets, and her third TED Talk.

Amelia Gibson recognized for impact on library education with Roadbuilder’s Award
SILS Assistant Professor Amelia Gibson received a North Carolina Library Association (NCLA) Round Table for Ethnic Minority Concerns (REMCo) Library Education Roadbuilder’s Award for 2017. The award recognizes ethnic minority librarians and librarian educators who are positive role models and pioneers in librarianship. Gibson was nominated by SILS alumnus Gerald Holmes (MSLS ’85), Reference Librarian and Diversity Coordinator for University Libraries at UNC Greensboro.

Sandra Hughes-Hassell promotes youth librarianship through service and research
SILS Professor Sandra Hughes-Hassell served as President of YALSA in 2017 and advanced the goals of Project READY: Reimagining Equity and Access for Diverse Youth. The program hosted its face-to-face professional development sessions over the summer. Over 30 teams were selected to participate in this part of the project. In total, the schools represented by these teams serve over 32,000 students, the majority of whom are students of color. Hughes-Hassell directs the project, with the help of co-principal investigator and SILS Postdoctoral Research Associate Casey Rawson (MSLS ’11, PhD ’16) and current SILS PhD student Kimberly Hirsh (MSLS ’11). The project is supported by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).


In 2017, SILS faculty set a new record for the number of research proposals submitted, grants awarded, and dollars generated. Currently, 12 SILS professors are lead principal investigators on 19 research grants  many of which are multiyear awards. These grant budgets total over $11 million. In addition, many SILS faculty are co-investigators on research grants totaling more than $60 million. Below are some quick facts and links to more information about major grants awarded this year.

Studying how libraries can better engage people with Autism and their families
Dr. Amelia Gibson, SILS Assistant Professor
$336,600  Institute of Museum and Library Services,
Laura Bush 21st Century Early Career Award

Investigating open source tools to improve workflows for born-digital materials at LAMs
Dr. Christopher “Cal” Lee, SILS Professor
$681,000  Institute of Museum and Library Services
Awarded to The Educopia Institute and UNC SILS

Developing advanced data visualization methods for more accurate analysis of complex data sets
Dr. David Gotz , SILS Associate Professor and
Assistant Director of the Carolina Health Informatics Program (CHIP)
$1 million National Science Foundation

Advancing the field of health informatics through student support
Dr. Javed Mostafa, Frances McColl Distinguished Term Professor at SILS
Professor, Biomedical Research & Imaging Center at the UNC School of Medicine
Director, Carolina Health Informatics Program
$3.1 million National Institutes of Health – National Library of Medicine
T15 Biomedical Informatics and Data Science Training Grant

Designing systems that automatically display relevant search trails
Dr. Rob Capra, SILS Associate Professor and
Dr. Jaime Arguello, SILS Assistant Professor
$500,000 National Science Foundation

Preparing STEM students for data-intensive research
Dr. Arcot Rajasekar, SILS Professor and Chief Scientist at RENCI
$500,000  National Science Foundation


SILS celebrates retiring professors Barbara Moran and Barbara Wildemuth
Alumni, students, friends, family, faculty, staff, and UNC administrators gathered on May 9 at the Carolina Inn to recognize the many years of exceptional service by SILS professors Barbara Moran and Barbara Wildemuth, who retired this summer.

Elaine L. Westbrooks named University librarian and vice provost for University Libraries

SILS Professor Paul Jones was appointed coordinator of the Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS) program.

Lukasz Mazur and Fei Yu joined the SILS faculty this fall.


Conference and Kilgour Lecture address the effects of misinformation and mistrust
The first few months of Donald Trump’s presidency intensified already growing concerns about declining trust in journalists and traditional news outlets, the rise of online, ideologically- driven media channels, and the future of public records and governmental data access. SILS and the UNC School of Media and Journalism brought together two panels of experts and political scientist Brendan Nyhan to discuss these issues and help audience members differentiate between the normal machinations of partisan politics and unprecedented developments that could shape the fate of U.S. democracy.

SILS hosts first Symposium on Information for Social Good
The theme “Access, Equity, and Action” shaped presentations and conversations at SILS’ first Symposium on Information for Social Good, held in Manning Hall on April 21 and cosponsored by the UNC Parr Center for Ethics. Through panels and posters, graduate and undergraduate students addressed advanced questions and problems related to current ethical and social justice issues that impact information science.

2017 SILS Project Fair
SILS hosted its third annual project fair on April 21 to showcase the work of its master's and undergraduate students. Congratulations to the winners:

  • Best in Show Award (tie): Stephanie Yi-Farng Hsieh for "Comparing First Impressions of Display Clutter Between Cultures" and Will Sutherland-Keller, Anna Zhao, and Gordon Chadwick for "Presidential Campaign Expenditures Visualization."
  • Social Impact Award: Meggie Lasher for "Open Hands and Open Minds: Handling Institutional Knowledge in a Volunteer Program."
  • People's Choice Award: Kesley Hammer for "GIF-able Library: Integrating GIFs into Your Library Culture."

2017 Steinfirst residency
Charles R. Smith Jr., award-winning and best-selling children’s author, photographer, and poet, spent a week in April at Chapel Hill’s Northside Elementary School as the 2017 Steinfirst Artist-in-Residence.

SILS Spring Commencement
SILS hosted its annual spring commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 14, to celebrate its 2017 Bachelor of Science in Information Science (BSIS), Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS), Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS), and Doctor of Philosophy in Information and Library Sci-ence (PhD) graduates. Student speaker David Tenenholtz (MSIS ’17) welcomed guests and graduates, and Barbara Moran, the inaugural Louis Round Wilson Distinguished Professor at SILS, delivered the spring commencement address. Click here to listen to Moran’s address, “You’re Off to Great Places! You’re Off and Away.”

SILS fall orientation overlaps with 2017 solar eclipse
SILS welcomed incoming Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS), Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS), and doctoral students on August 21, the same day as a total solar eclipse swept across the contiguous United States. While Chapel Hill wasn’t in the path of totality, students, faculty, and staff took a break from orientation activities late in the afternoon to see the partial eclipse at its peak.

SILS Library hosts Harry Potter night
The SILS Library hosted its first Harry Potter night on October 27. At the beginning of the event, participants were sorted into one of the four Hogwart’s houses. The house teams then competed for points at different stations, including potion making, divination, care of magical creatures, and Harry Potter trivia.  In addition to celebrating one of the world’s most beloved book series, the event served as a great introduction to the SILS Library, which houses the only children’s collection on campus.

Brewster Kahle: "Universal Access to All Knowledge"
Brewster Kahle, internet entrepreneur, universal access advocate, and founder of the Internet Archive, delivered the 2017 Lucile Kelling Henderson Lecture, titled “Universal Access to All Knowledge,” on November 10. Click here to watch the lecture.   


PSM in Digital Curation
SILS began accepting applications to its new Professional Science Master’s (PSM) in Digital Curation. The program is 100% online and the first master’s degree in the nation focused on digital curation. Classes begin in January.

PhD in Health Informatics
The field of health IT is diverse, rapidly changing, and covers numerous areas of scholarship. Drawing upon the academic and research strengths of UNC-Chapel Hill, the health informatics doctoral program emphasize advanced database management, analytics methods and evaluation, and human-computer interaction.

Summer seminar to Berlin and Dublin
This summer, SILS students participated in a brand new international seminar that took them to the booming tech cities of Berlin and Dublin. Led by SILS Professor Paul Jones, the program focused on the ways information gathering, dissemination, privacy, and security affect business.


Barbara and Bob Martin make generous commitment to establish Distinguished Professorship in Librarianship at SILS
Drs. Barbara and Robert “Bob” Martin (PhD ’88) have made a commitment to establish the Honorable Robert S. Martin Distinguished Professorship in Librarianship at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS). The School celebrated the Martins’ generosity this spring at a formal dinner in Manning Hall that included remarks from UNC President Margaret Spellings and a special message from former First Lady Laura Bush.

SILS Alumni Innovation Celebration – Durham, NC – April 20, 2017

SILS at ALA Chicago – June 25, 2017

SILS Alumni & Friends in Atlanta – August 10, 2017

SILS Alumni and Friend in D.C. – October 19, 2017

SILS shares vision and thanks with leadership donors
SILS celebrated the public launch of its comprehensive  campaign, part of the historic Campaign for Carolina, on November 4 in Manning Hall. The event gave alumni and friends an opportunity to learn more about the School’s current programs and initiatives, and allowed the School to thank its leadership donors, whose gifts and commitments totaled $13.4 million – over half of SILS’ $20 million goal – on the day of the celebration. Learn more about the SILS campaign priorities and keep track of our campaign’s progress at


Stephen Krueger wins University Diversity and LGBTIQ Advocacy awards

Natalie Ornat wins Pratt Severn Award from ASIS&T for paper on reading and writing during the siege of Sarajevo

Matthew Johnson awarded Braverman Prize from Progressive Librarians Guild for paper on personal health data information literacy

Nadia Clifton selected for ARL/SAA Mosaic Program

Nicole Pawelski receives SNCA award for paper examining cultural history documentation as a human rights issue

Xueli Fan receives Carsey Scholarship to work on data science problems

Erin Rutherford wins Sara Aull Award from Carolinas SLA

Four undergraduate students receive scholarships from SILS
Four newly-admitted Bachelor of Science in Information Science (BSIS) students were selected to receive $1,000 scholarships from SILS in 2017. Gabrielle Matalon and Dylan Tastet were awarded the merit-based scholarships in the spring, and Richard Le and Karley Wheeler were selected for the fall. 

Meggie Lasher keeps CWS going strong after funding loss

Sangeeta Desai leads local DataRescue efforts

Leslie Thomson wins ASIS&T dissertation proposal scholarship for plan to study ‘Serious YouTubers’

Rashnil Chaturvedi and teammates compete in final round of international analytics contest

Kelsey Hammer leads GIFABLE UNC project