Magee awarded IMLS grant for young researchers project

Rachel Magee
Rachel M. Magee, Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor Rachel M. Magee has been awarded a three-year Early Career Development grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS grant RE-07-18-0054-18), under the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, which supports "developing a diverse workforce of librarians to better meet the changing learning and information needs of the American public by enhancing the training and professional development of librarians, developing faculty and library leaders, and recruiting and educating the next generation of librarians."

The IMLS-funded project, "Young Researchers: Collaborating with Youth and Libraries for Community Based Scholarship," builds on a pilot study Magee conducted in 2016-2017, in which a small group of teens in Illinois learned how to help design, implement, analyze, and report on original research.

"Working with teens in the pilot study for the Young Researchers project was inspiring and demonstrated that youth can substantively contribute to the way we design and conduct research about their experiences," said Magee. "These teens worked together for eight months, and their timely research investigating how their peers decide what to trust on social media shows that teens have important questions to ask and answer through the original research process."

The new grant will allow Magee to expand the project to five partner public library sites across the U.S., connecting teens from diverse backgrounds during afterschool camps or summer camps in order to explore the research process. The project will conclude with a public curriculum and workshop series for library and information science professionals on implementing co-research. 

"The next phase of this work will involve collaborating with teens across the country to develop studies about their priorities," Magee explained. "This will provide an opportunity to better understand how teens develop complex research literacies, to further techniques for effective informal learning, and to create and share resources that all libraries can use to help teens understand the research process."  

In addition to the Young Researchers project, Magee continues her work on the App Authors project with Associate Professor Kate McDowell and Assistant Professor Deborah Stevenson, director of The Center for Children's Books. App Authors is a three-year project to develop curricula for app-building in school and public libraries. Like App Authors, the Young Researchers project will advance scholarship on designing informal learning opportunities in libraries as well as support youth literacy development.

Magee is a youth advocate who teaches about and researches youth technology and information practices, informed by her background as a public librarian. She holds a PhD in information studies from Drexel University and a master's degree in information resources and library science from the University of Arizona.

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