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Lectures and Conferences

Upcoming Lectures and Conferences


There are no upcoming events at this time.


There are no upcoming events at this time.

Past Lectures

The UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) invites distinguished scholars and industry leaders to share their knowledge and expertise with students, faculty, and the general public throughout the year. When possible and with the speaker’s permission, we record talks and post them to our YouTube channel. The following list highlights four of our most prominent, recurring lecture series:

Lucile Kelling Henderson Lectures

The Lucile Kelling Henderson Lecture Series was established in 1990 to honor the memory of Lucile K. Henderson, SILS faculty member (1932-1960) and dean (1954-1960). As an excellent teacher, administrator, counselor and adviser, Henderson made many contributions to the University and to the profession. She died in 1990 at the age of 95.

Past Lecturers

2019—Nova Spivack, technology entrepreneur, innovator, and futurist, presented a talk about “Building a Library on the Moon,” and his quest to install durable archives around the globe and throughout the solar system to preserve the memory of humanity. A video of the talk is available on the SILS YouTube channel.

2017—Brewster Kahle, internet entrepreneur, universal access advocate, presented “Universal Access to All Knowledge” on Nov. 10, 2017. Watch the lecture on the SILS YouTube channel.

2016—Cassidy R. Sugimoto (MSLS ’07, PhD ’10), Associate Professor at the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University Bloomington, presented “What Does it Matter Who is Speaking? Disparity and Disruption in Scholarly Communication” on October 3, 2016.

2015—Dr. Wayne A. Wiegand, renowned American library historian, author, and academic, presented “Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library” on September 14, 2015.

2014—Dr. Judith Donath, faculty fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society and former director of the MIT Media Lab’s Sociable Media Group, presented “Interface and Identity” on September 22, 2014. Watch the lecture on the SILS Vimeo channel.

2013—Dr. Juan E. Gilbert, presidential endowed chair in Computing, IDEaS professor and chair of the Human-Centered Computing Division in the School of Computing at Clemson University, presented “Applications Quest and Strict Scrutiny in the Post Fischer Era” on September 12, 2013.

2012—Dr. John G. Palfrey, Jr., head of the Phillips Academy and former Henry n. Ess III professor of law and vice dean for Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School, presented “Building a Digital Public Library of America” on September 24, 2012.

2011—Dr. Fred Roper, distinguished dean emeritus of the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science and SILS distinguished alumnus, presented “On the Shoulders of Giants: How SILS Achieved the National Championship in Library and Information Science.” The lecture, which was held September 23, 2011, was part of the kick-off of the School’s 80th anniversary celebration.

2010—Chris Batt, OBE, director of Chris Batt Consulting Ltd. and former chief executive of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) in London, England presented, “If we did not have libraries, would anyone invent them?” on October 5, 2010.

2009—Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, which won the George Polk Award in April 2000 for “piercing self-serving veils of government secrecy, guiding journalists in search for the truth, and informing us all,” presented, “The Secrecy Hangover” on September 24, 2009. A special screening of the award-winning documentary Secrecy was shown after the lecture.

2008—Siva Vaidhyanathan, a cultural historian, media scholar, and author of Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity (New York University Press, 2001) and The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash between Freedom and Control is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System (Basic Books, 2004), presented “The Human Knowledge Project (Part 1): Four Conceptual Errors concerning Massive Digital Library Projects” on February 6, 2008. Watch the lecture on YouTube.

2006—Dr. David Weinberger, technologist, writer, and commentator, best known as co-author of the Cluetrain Manifesto, which has been described as “a primer on Internet marketing,” presented “Everything is Miscellaneous” on December 7, 2006.

2005—Professors Wayne and Shirley Wiegand presented “Books On Trial: Witch Hunt in the Heartland and a Nation’s Response” on September 26, 2005. Shirley Wiegand is a professor of Law at the Marquette University Law School and author of many scholarly articles that address issues of civil liberties and conflict resolution. Wayne Weigand is the F. William Summers professor of Library and Information Studies and professor of American Studies at Florida State University. He is the author of numerous books — including the famous Irrepressible Reformer: A Biography of Melvil Dewey as well as many articles in American print culture and library history.

2005—Barbara Rimer, dean of the School of Public Health, behavioral scientist, alumni distinguished professor at the School of Public Health and deputy director for Population Sciences at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, presented “Books, Bytes and Bugs: From Information and Library Science to Public Health” on May 4, 2005.

2003—Fred Kilgour, Distinguished Research Professor in the School of Information and Library Science, and Herbert Van de Sompel, team leader of the Digital Library Research and Prototyping Team at the Research Library of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, presented “Sharing Library Resources: From Online Computer Library Center to Open Archives Protocol for Metadata Harvesting” on November 21, 2003.

2002—William Ferris, associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South and professor, UNC at Chapel Hill History Department, presented “The Humanities, Technology and the American South” on November 7, 2002.

2001—John Vaughn, executive vice president of the Association of American Universities, presented “Scholarly Publishing in the Digital Age” on October 3, 2001. The lecture helped kick off the 70th anniversary of SILS.

2000—Gregory Crane, from Tufts University, editor-in-chief of The Perseus Project, “Open Information and the Social Contract of the Humanities.”

1999—Michael Lesk, director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Information and Intelligent Systems, “Books, Bytes and Bucks: When Can We Privatize Digital Libraries?”

1998—Ben Shneiderman, professor at the University of Maryland ‘s Department of Computer Science, “The Eyes Have It: User Interfaces for Information Visualization.”

1997—Nicholas J. Belkin, professor at the School of Communication, Information and Library Studies at Rutgers University, “Understanding and Supporting People’s Interactions with Information: Collaboration, Not Agency.”

1997—John V. Richardson Jr., associate professor with the Department of Library and Information Science at UCLA, “Understanding the Question-Answering Process: A Systems Approach and Demonstration.”

1996—Edward A. Fox, professor of computer science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, “Rethinking Libraries in the Information Age: Lessons Learned with Five Digital Library Projects.”

1995—Susan M. Hockey, director of the Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities, “Computers, Electronic Information and the Humanities: Views Toward the Twenty-First Century.”

1994—Gerda Lerner, Robinson-Edwards Professor of History Emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “The Creation of Feminist Consciousness.”

1993—Janice Radway, professor of literature at Duke University, “A Modern ‘Selling Machine’ for Books: The Origins of the Book of the Month Club.”

1992—William Moffett, director of the Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif., “Who Owns Knowledge?” (Dead Sea Scrolls)

1991—Fred Roper, dean of the College of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina.

OCLC/Frederick G. Kilgour Lecture in Information Science

The Frederick G. Kilgour Lecture was established in 2004 by OCLC Online Computer Library Center on the occasion of Dr. Kilgour’s 90th birthday. Dr. Kilgour was a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus at SILS and Founder of OCLC Online Computer Library Center. Of his many innovations, he is most noted for inventing the WorldCat database in1971. Today, OCLC is a nonprofit global library cooperative providing shared technology services, original research, and community programs so that libraries can better fuel learning, research, and innovation. For more information, visit

Past Lecturers

2019—Meredith D. Clark, scholar, teacher, and recovering journalist, presented “Black Women Tried to Tell Y’all: Race, Representation, and Self-Preservation through Digital Counternarratives” on April 26, 2019, as keynote for the 2019 Symposium on Information for Social Good. Watch the lecture on the SILS YouTube channel.

2018—Cory Doctorow, author, activist, and journalist, presented “The Internet, Peak Indifference, and the Point of No Return” on April 27, 2018. Watch the lecture on the SILS YouTube channel.

2017—Brendan Nyhan, Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, presented “Factual Echo Chambers? Fact-checking and Fake News in Election 2016,” closing the half-day conference “What Should We Be Worried About?: Information and Media in the Trump Era” on March 31. At the request of the speaker, the lecture was not recorded.

2016—Ben Shneiderman, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Maryland, presented “The New ABCs of Research.” Watch the lecture on the SILS YouTube channel.

2015—Andrew Fiore, Growth and research manager at Facebook, presented “The Limits of Data Science at Scale.”

2014—L. Jean Camp, director of the Security Informatics Program and professor of Informatics at the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University Bloomington, presented “Beyond Usability and Economics: Translucent Security.” The event also includes a panel discussion featuring Zeynep Tufekci, SILS assistant professor, and Anne Klinefelter, director, UNC-Chapel Hill Law Library and associate professor of law.

2013—Deen Freelon, assistant professor of Public Communication at American University, Washington, D.C., presented “Across the Divide: On Interdisciplinary Collaboration between Information Science and Communication” for the eighth annual OCLC/Frederick G. Kilgour Lecture in Information and Library Science.

2012—Jay Jordan, president and chief executive officer of OCLC, presented “The Web and the New World of Bibliography” for the seventh annual OCLC/Frederick G. Kilgour Lecture.

2011—Daniel Greenstein, vice provost for academic planning, programs and coordination at the University of California’s Office of the President, presented “The university and its digital libraries. A tale in three parts.”

2010—Lee Dirks, director of Education & Scholarly Communications in Microsoft’s External Research division, presented “The Next Generation Scholarly Communication Ecosystem: Implications for Librarians.”

2009—Pamela Samuelson, Richard M. Sherman ’74 Distinguished Professor of Law and Information at the University of California at Berkeley and director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, presented “Reflections on the Google Booksearch Settlement.” Watch the lecture on YouTube.

2008—David Rumsey, president of Cartography Associates and chairman of Luna Imaging, presented “Turning Private Collections into Public Resources Using Digital Technologies and the Internet.”

2007—Michael Tiemann, vice president for Open Source Affairs for Red Hat, “Sharing Knowledge, Multiplying Value: The Non-Linear Nature of Open Source Software.”

2006—Lorcan Dempsey, vice president of research and chief strategist for OCLC Online Computer Library Center, presented “Libraries, Logistics and the Long Tail.”

Susan Steinfirst Memorial Lecture in Children’s Literature

The Susan Steinfirst Memorial Lecture in Children’s Literature honors the memory of Susan Steinfirst, a professor of children’s and young adult literature at SILS from 1976 to 1996. Steinfirst dedicated her life to the promotion of children’s literature by teaching future librarians and by publishing scholarly works in the field. She died of cancer in 1997. The lecture is made possible by the Steinfirst Memorial Fund, which was established through gifts from Professor Steinfirst’s husband, Gene Story, as well as other family members and friends.

In 2016, the Steinfirst vision was expanded to include the Steinfirst Artist-in-Residency Program, which gives Triangle-area youth an opportunity to study with internationally acclaimed authors and illustrators. The artist-in-residence experience was partly funded by a gift from Professor Steinfirst’s niece, Julia Steinfirst Howard, and her husband, John, and received support through the Drs. Barbara and Robert S. Martin Research Assistant program.

Past Lecturers

2024 – Derrick Barnes, Author of Three New York Times Bestsellers, National Book Award Finalist, recipient of Ezra Jack Keats Award, two-time Coretta Scott King Honoree, and Newbery Honor Recipient

2022 – Megan England, SILS alumna and young adult novelist, presented “Magic, Spaceships, and Beauty Pageants: Pushing Through Fear and Anxiety to Save the World.

2018 Lecture & Residency—Meg Medina, bestselling Latina author of children’s and young adult fiction, presented “Writing La Vida Loca:  How Your Nutty Life Can Help You Become a Writer” on April 8, 2018. She spent a week working with students at Northside Elementary School in Orange County, N.C.

2017 Residency—Charles R. Smith Jr., award-winning and best selling children’s author, photographer, and poet was selected as the 2017 Artist-in-Residence. He spent a week working with students at Northside Elementary School in Orange County, N.C.

2016—Matt de la Peña, New York Times bestselling, Newbery Medal-winning author of six young adult novels and two picture books, presented “Reading (and Writing) from the Wrong Side of the Tracks” at the Durham County Library on March 13, 2016. De la Peña spent a week working with students at Mt. Vernon Middle School as the inaugural Steinfirst Artist-in-Residence.

2013—Jarrett J. Krosoczka, award winning author and illustrator of children’s books, was the featured presenter at the 2013 Susan Steinfirst Memorial Lecture. He presented “Sketchbook to Published Book,” and thrilled children and adults alike with his artistic drawings on October 5, 2013. A booksigning and reception was part of the lecture as well.

2011—Linda Sue Park, Korean-American author of picture books and novels for children, provided a thought-provoking and entertaining lecture on September 25, 2011 in Gerrard Hall on the UNC at Chapel Hill campus. The lecture was part of the School’s 80th anniversary kick-off celebration.

2009—Brian Pinkney, children’s book illustrator and author read from his works and shared his illustrations and techniques. This lecture was part of the North Carolina Literary Festival held on the UNC at Chapel Hill campus.

2008—Sarah Dessen, The New York Times best-selling author of young adult books, read from her novel, Lock and Key

2006—Avi, children’s author of the Award-winning historical novel Crispin: The Cross of Lead and Honor

2004—Paul O. Zelinsky, children’s illustrator and Caldecott Medalist, Rapunzel

2002—Vera B. Williams, children’s author and illustrator of the Caldecott Award-winning book, More, More, More Said the Baby

2000—Seymour Simon, children’s science book author “From Paper Airplanes to Outer Space: Science Books are the Real Thing”

1999—Deborah Hopkinson, children’s author “Only Connect: Using Literature to Help Children Understand the Past”

1998—Mary Pope Osborne, children’s author “Myth, Legend and History: Sources of Inspiration for a Children’s Author”

SILS Commencement Speakers

View past SILS commencement speakers below.

Past Commencement Speakers

2020 (Postponed due to COVID-19) Jason Griffey (MSLS ’04), Director of Strategic Initiatives at the National Information Standards Organization

2019 (May) Anne Klinefelter, Director of the Law Library and Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

2018 (May) Dr. Jaime Teevan, Technical Advisor to the CEO of Microsoft

2017 (May) Dr. Barbara B. Moran, Louis Round Wilson Distinguished Professor

2016 (December) Dr. Xin Fu (PhD ’08), Senior Director of Data Science at LinkedIn and SILS distinguished alumnus.

2016 (May) Dr. Barbara Wildemuth, SILS Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

2015 (December) Dr. Mae Lipscomb Rodney (PhD ’86), former Director of Library Services at Winston-Salem State University, and SILS distinguished alumna.

2015 (May) Susan Dumais, Distinguished Scientist at Microsoft, Deputy Managing Director of the Microsoft Research Lab in Redmond, and Adjunct Professor in the Information School at the University of Washington.

2014 (December)—Susan Brown (MSLS ’01), Director, Chapel Hill Public Library, and SILS distinguished alumna.

2014 (May)—Demetria Tucker (MSLS ’72), senior family and youth librarian at the Pearl Bailey Branch Library in Newport News, Virginia.

2013 (December)— Joyce L. Ogburn (MSLS ’82), dean of Libraries and Carol Grotness Belk Distinguished Professor at Appalachian State University.

2013 (May)—Michael Tiemann, vice president of Open Source Affairs for Red Hat and co-founder of Cygnus Solutions, the first company to provide commercial support for open source software.

2012 (December)—Joan Lippincott, associate executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information, a joint program of the Association of Research Libraries and EDUCAUSE.

2012 (May)—Cathy N. Davidson, Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English at Duke English at Duke University and the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies. She presented “Connection in the Age of Information.”

2011 (December)—John Ulmschneider, SILS distinguished alumnus and university librarian and professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries.

2011 (May)—Ryan Allis, Entrepreneur, chief executive officer and co-founder of iContact.

2010 (December)—Deborah Balsamo, SILS distinguished alumnus and National Program Manager for the EPA’s National Library Network.

2010 (May)—Robert Molyneux, SILS distinguished alumnus and vice president of Business Development at Equinox Software, Inc. / The Evergreen Experts.

2009 (December)—Hampton “Skip” Auld, SILS distinguished alumnus and director of Durham County Library.

2009 (May)—Barbara P. Semonche, SILS distinguished alumnas and library director at the UNC at Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, presented, “History, Mystery and Info To Go.”

2008 (December)—Mark Allen Greene, director of the American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

2008 (May)—Dr. Duane Webster,executive director of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).

2007 (December)—Dr. Laura (Lolly) Gasaway, associate dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law UNC at Chapel Hill’s School of Law.

2007 (May)—Patricia Harris, technical information specialist of the Global Standards and Information Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

2006 (December)—Dr. Irene Owens, dean of the School of Library and Information Science at North Carolina Central University.

2006 (May)—Brewster Kahle, director and co-founder of the Internet Archive and digital librarian.

2005 (Dec)—Susan Perry, senior advisor to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, director of Programs for the Council on Libraries and Information Resources (MSLS ’66)

2005 (May)—Paul Horn, senior vice-president and director of IBM Research.

2004 (Dec)—Susan Tarr, executive director of the Federal Library and Information Center Committee (FLICC) at the Library of Congress (MSLS ’74)

2003 (Dec)—Mary L. Boone, director of the Jefferson Information Center, U.S. Department of State (MSLS ’73)

2003 (May)—Dr. Seamus Ross, director of Humanities Computing and Information Management at the University of Glasgow

2002 (Dec)—Dr. Angela Ruffin, Head, National Network of Libraries of Medicine (PhD ’89)

2002 (May)—Dr. Robert Martin, Director, Institute of Museum and Library Services (PhD ’88)

2001 (Dec)—Dr. Brian Sturm, Assistant Professor, SILS

2001 (May)—Betty McCain, Immediate Past Secretary of North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

2000 (Dec)—Tony Peacock, 1999 Champion, National Hollerin’ Contest, Spivey’s Corner, NC

2000 (May)—Eric Reeves, North Carolina State Senator, “Bringing Technology to Government”

1999 (Dec)—Dr. David Carr, Associate Professor, SILS

1999 (May)—Jane Smith Patterson, Senior Advisor to Gov. Jim Hunt for Science and Technology

1998—Martin Dillon, Executive Director, Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and past SILS Faculty Member (’70-’85), “The Information Professions: The Future is Not What it Used to Be”

1997—Dr. Laura Gasaway, Professor and Director of Law Library, School of Law, UNC, “Legal Challenges in Cyberspace”

1996—Dr. Edward Holley, Dean and Professor, SILS, “To See the Glass Half Full: A Challenge for Commencement Day”

1995—Jerry Campbell, Vice Provost for Library Affairs and University Librarian Perkins Library, Duke University, “Staying in the Eye of the Storm”

1994—Dr. Fred Kilgour, Distinguished Research Professor, SILS, “Professional Excitement”

1993—Dr. Chuck Stone, Walter Spearman Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications, “Librarians, Libraries and Other Liberators”

1992—Dr. Marilyn Miller, Director, UNC-Greensboro’s library science program and former SILS faculty member, “Celebrate Your Profession”

1991—Dr. William Graves, Associate Provost for Information Technology at UNC, “Campus Technologies for the Future”

1990—Anne Marie Elkins, Director, Braswell Memorial Library in Rocky Mount, NC, “Journey to Ithaka”

1989—Anne J. Mathews, Director, Library Programs, U.S. Department of Education, “Empowering Librarians to Lead”

1988—Dr. Margaret Myers, Head of ALA’s Office for Library Personnel Resources, “The World is Your Oyster: Making a Difference”

1987—Howard McGinn, Associate State Librarian, “Librarianship and the Information Infrastructure”

1986—Dr. Evelyn Daniel, Dean, SILS, “Networking: The Key to a Successful Future”

1985—Dr. Edward Holley, Dean, SILS

1984—Libby Smith, Librarian, Environmental Protection Agency

1983—Susan Tarr, Executive Director, Processing Department, Library of Congress

1980—First Annual Graduate Reception following the University commencement. Included remarks by Dean Edward Holley and Nell Waltner, Alumni Association President.

Past Conferences and Symposia

Symposium on Information for Social GoodSymposium on Information for Social Good

SILS hosted its first Symposium on Information for Social Good on April 21, 2017. Through panels and poster presentations, SILS graduate and undergraduate students addressed advanced questions and problems related to current ethical and social justice issues that impact information science. The format has remained the same for subsequent symposiums, though the theme and focus change each year.


Symposium on Blockchain and Trusted RepositoriesSymposium on Blockchain and Trusted Repositories

SILS brought together speakers and organized panels to address the technical, financial, and legal/regulatory issues related to current and potential blockchain applications. The event was sponsored by the SILS Knowledge Trust, UNC Center for Media Law & Policy and The Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. A water main break in Chapel Hill and the resulting water shortage forced the symposium to conclude less than halfway through its scheduled time. Slides from the speakers have bee shared on the event’s website.


CHIIR 2016CHIIR 2016

The first annual ACM SIGIR Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval (CHIIR 2016) was held March 13-17, 2016, in Chapel Hill. Over 130 attendees came from all over the world to share and discuss research on the user-centered aspects of information interaction and information retrieval. CHIIR (pronounced “cheer”) was the merger of two successful previous events, the Information Interaction in Context conference (IIiX) and the Human Computer Information Retrieval symposium (HCIR). In addition to the usual conference highlights–including poster presentations, paper sessions, keynotes, and workshops–the event featured an early look at Google User Study Mobile, a van the company has equipped to serve as a portable user studies lab. CHIIR was one of the first stops on the lab’s cross-country tour.

Full conference proceeding are now available from the ACM Digital Library or search CHIIR at

iPRES 2015

SILS and UNC’s Odum Institute for Research in Social Science co-presented the 12th International Conference on Digital Preservation (iPRES) November 2-6, 2015, in Chapel Hill. The conference drew 327 delegates from 22 countries, and the program included 12 long papers, 15 short papers, 33 posters, three demos, six workshops, three tutorials, and five panels, as well as several interactive sessions and a Digital Preservation Showcase. iPRES rotates between Asia, Europe, and North America. It had not been in North America since 2009, and it will not return until 2018. Each of the iPRES2015 contributions can be accessed through the iPRES2015 proceedings collection at For the full proceedings volume, see specifically

Keynote addresses are available to watch on the SILS Vimeo channel:


SILS celebrated the ending of its 80th anniversary year by taking a forward look at the future of our field and its graduates during the Information Professionals 2050 (IP2050) Symposium and Conference, June 4-5, 2012.  Sixteen information and library science leaders were invited to participate in the symposium where they presented position statements and discussed each of their perceptions of how the changes on the horizon will impact how students are educated, institutions are designed and how we may prepare for emerging technologies. They each presented their ideas at the conference which was held the following day, June 5, 2012, at the William and Ida Friday Center in Chapel Hill. The result of the conference and symposium are documented in the book edited by Drs. Gary Marchionini, dean and Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor and Barbara B. Moran, Louis Round Wilson Distinguished Professor, Information Professional 2050 (IP 2050): Educational Possibilities and Pathways publication. The video of the day-long conference may be viewed at Information Professional 2050 (IP 2050) Conference video