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RTI News: IMLS Awards Second Grant to MLA to Deepen the Research Capacity of Health Sciences Librarians

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded MLA a $227,862 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Grant over a 3-year period to build upon, extend, and enhance the successful Research Training Institute (RTI). IMLS funding for August 2020–July 2023 will enable MLA to transition the existing RTI research curriculum and learning activities to online formats, test and refine the new online model, reduce costs for participants, and increase the reach of the program to new audiences.

The new RTI online learning model will capitalize on the advantages of online learning (greater affordability, accessibility, and flexibility), while providing high-quality education in advanced research methods to a more diverse and inclusive health librarian-researcher workforce. RTI Online will feature an updated and expanded research curriculum, including new curriculum content in the areas of data analysis and statistics and the emerging area of research dissemination through social media.

RTI Online also will pilot a new peer coaching program in which five peer coaches with diverse backgrounds and experiences will be selected annually from former RTI fellows. Peer coaches will participate in small mentor group discussions, individual sessions, and the RTI Community of Practice forums by sharing their experiences and offering encouragement to participants in the RTI program.

An exciting facet of RTI Online is a new academic partnership with the University of North Texas (UNT) master of science in information science program. This partnership will embed four library and information science (LIS) graduate students into the 2021 and 2022 RTI institutes, serve as a model for other LIS master’s programs nationwide, and elevate the quality of research methods instruction in a formal LIS graduate-level program.

A team of distinguished research and teaching faculty have been selected for RTI Online.

Lead faculty:

  • Jodi L. Philbrick, AHIP, Department of Information Science, UNT–Denton
  • Emily Vardell, School of Library and Information Management, Emporia State University, Emporia, KS

Research instructors and specialists:

  • Katherine G. Akers, Shiffman Medical Library, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
  • Karen Gutzman, Galter Health Sciences Library, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
  • Shanda Hunt, Bio-Medical Library, University of Minnesota–Minneapolis
  • Mark MacEachern, Taubman Health Sciences Library, University of Michigan–Ann Arbor

The 2017–2020 RTI Leadership Team—Susan Lessick, AHIP, FMLA, Anaheim, CA, project director; Barry Grant, MLA director of education; Debra Cavanaugh, MLA director of professional development; and Mary M. Langman, MLA director of information issues and policy—will continue to support the RTI Online pilot project. The leadership team and faculty will work together with the peer coaches, new Digital Dissemination Coordinator Gutzman, and UNT Academic Liaison Ana D. Cleveland, AHIP, FMLA, College of Information, UNT–Denton, to design, deliver, and assess the new online learning program.

The RTI Online learning program is unique and will ensure that increasing numbers of health library professionals nationwide have access to advanced research methods training and will gain high-level professional research skills and confidence to contribute meaningfully to institutions and user communities. Supported by IMLS funding, RTI Online will continue transforming MLA’s research vision into a reality by cultivating research learning, productivity, and collaboration throughout the profession.

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