Invited Papers

alisonheadAlison Head - Executive Director,
Project Information Literacy
Thursday, April 11, 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Project Information Literacy: What Can Be Learned about the Information-Seeking Behavior of Today's College Students?
What is it like to be a college student in the digital age? Since 2008, as part of our ongoing study at Project Information Literacy (PIL), we have surveyed more than 10,000 students at over 40 colleges and universities in the US. We have investigated how college students find information and conduct research — their needs, strategies, and workarounds — for solving information problems that occur during course-related research and in their everyday lives. We have found the large majority of students we have studied across all types of higher-education institutions still attend college to learn, but many are lost in a thicket of information overload.  Many respondents in our surveys have reported relying on the same few tried and true resources — course readings, Google, library databases, instructors and Wikipedia — to control the staggering amount information available. This strategy, of course, underscores the gap between the plethora of Web sources and rich information campus libraries make available to students and the sources students actually use: a limited toolbox of familiar sources, which infrequently includes consulting a librarian or, in many cases, even going to the campus library at all. Alison Head, PIL's founding director, discusses key-takeaways from the PIL studies and their implications for teaching, learning, work, and community in the 21st century. "Five Takeaways from PIL" infographic.

Alison J. Head, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of Project Information Literacy (PIL), an ongoing research study in the U.S. She is also a Fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society and the Harvard Library's Innovation Lab. Alison has a Ph.D. and MLS from U.C. Berkeley's Information School and was a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University. Her research interests include information-seeking behaviors of early adults, information literacy and lifelong learning, Web adoption and diffusion, and usage of social media for collaborative learning.

david greenDavid Green - Associate University Librarian for Collections and Information Services, Northeastern Illinois University
Thursday, April 11, 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.

The ERIAL Project:  Findings, Ideas and Tools to Advance Your Library
Imagine an anthropologist setting up shop in your library for two years to study the experiences, expectations, and attitudes students and faculty have regarding your library.  What do you think they would learn?  Do you think the anthropologist would simply uncover the suspicions you had all along, or perhaps confirm your worst fears?  What kind of changes would you be willing to make in response to the findings?  Dave Green was the project director of ERIAL, one of the largest ethnographic studies of academic libraries ever conducted.  The ERIAL team included more than 20 librarians and two full-time anthropologists.  They worked for two years interviewing and gathering data from more than 600 participants at five different universities. The team wanted to understand how students actually do their research assignments, and how relationships between students, teaching faculty and librarians shape that process.  The five ERIAL libraries that participated were from quite diverse institutions including campuses which were urban and suburban, residential and commuter, public and private, and with student populations ranging in size from 2,000 to 26,000.  ERIAL team members published results of the study in the ALA Editions book, College Libraries and Student Culture.  ERIAL has also been featured in articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and USA Today.

Dave will provide background on the ERIAL project, its challenges, and those findings which are relevant to all academic libraries.  He will highlight the strategic advantages of doing even a small ethnographic study in your library and why the process can sometimes be more valuable to a library organization than the findings.  Finally, Dave will briefly review the step-by-step guide developed by the ERIAL anthropologists to help you do your own project. 

Dave Green is Associate University Librarian for Collections and Information Services at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago (NEIU).  He received his MLS from Indiana University Bloomington, and has both Certification in Web Design and an MS in Information Systems from DePaul University. He has held library administrative positions at various institutions over the past 20 years, including Temple University Japan, Loyola University Chicago, and Roosevelt University.  He has also worked in private industry.  Dave has authored and been awarded numerous grants, the most recent of which is the Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries (ERIAL) Project.

jamie merisotisJamie Merisotis - President and CEO, Lumina Foundation
Friday, April 12, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

The Attainment Goal and the Changing Higher Education Landscape
Jamie P. Merisotis is president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, the nation's largest private foundation committed solely to enrolling and graduating more students from college.  During his presentation, Jamie will discuss Lumina Foundation’s attainment goal for the United States, why it is important, and how the post-secondary education system must adjust to meet the demands of the 21st century.

Long a champion of the idea that higher education enhances both society and individuals, Merisotis has worked for decades to increase educational opportunity among low-income, minority and other historically underrepresented populations.  At Lumina, Merisotis is continuing that effort by employing a strategic, outcomes based approach in pursuing the Foundation’s mission of expanding college access and success. Under his leadership, Lumina has embraced an ambitious and specific goal: to ensure that, by 2025, 60 percent of Americans hold high-quality degrees and credentials – up from the current level of less than 40 percent. It is Merisotis’ aim that all of Lumina’s efforts and activities – grant making, communication, evaluation, policy advocacy and convening – work toward achieving that goal.

Merisotis is an expert on a wide range of higher education issues. He is well versed in domestic and international issues related to higher education access and success, including student financial aid, minority-serving colleges and universities, global higher education policy strategies, learning outcomes, and the social and economic benefits of higher education. He is recognized as an authority on college and university financing and has published major studies and reports on topics ranging from higher education rankings to technology-based learning.

brian mathewsBrian Mathews - Associate Dean for Learning and Outreach, Virginia Tech
Friday, April 12, 1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

The Art of Problem Discovery
What challenges do students face in the classroom? What issues do faculty encounter when applying for grants? How does the Writing Center plan to help students abroad? What keeps senior administrators up at night?

We invest a lot of time and effort discussing library issues, but how well do we know the issues of our constituents? What are the problems, priorities, and possibilities of the people we serve?

Higher education is poised to undergo a historic evolution with the introduction of new pedagogies, publishing models, and user preferences. Libraries will not only be asked to adapt, but to help lead monumental changes. This paper presents an innovation strategy designed around growth. By adopting a discovery-oriented problem-seeking outlook and a holistic view of our institutions, librarians can develop an entrepreneurial mindset stretching beyond traditionally predefined boundaries. By advancing the objectives of others, we not only help our organizations succeed, but simultaneously reframe the role, value, and perception of libraries throughout the process.

Brian Mathews is an Associate Dean at Virginia Tech. He brings leadership and strategic vision to the areas of learning spaces, webinteractions, emerging media and technologies, new literacies, user engagement, and experimental pedagogies.  Brian is also an Assistant Director for Virginia Tech’s newly formed Center for Innovation in Learning. And he is a Faculty Fellow for Virginia Tech’s Honors Residential College,  He blogs with the Chronicle of Higher Education at  For more information please visit: