Wagner collaborates on project to improve health of LGBTQIA+ populations

Travis Wagner
Travis L. Wagner, Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor Travis L. Wagner is collaborating on a project that explores how library and information science research and medical library partnerships can inform lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) community health workers. The research aims to address the problem of health disparities among LGBTQIA+ populations. A team of researchers from the University of South Carolina's School of Information Science and Arnold School of Public Health is leading the project, which received a $357,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in 2020.

Wagner started working on the project as a PhD research assistant. This fall, a paper they coauthored received the SIG-HLTH Best Health-Related Paper Award and won second place in the Best Long Paper Award category at the 86th Annual Meeting of the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T).

In the paper, "'What Is a Wave But 1000 Drops Working Together?': The Role of Public Libraries in Addressing Health Information Disparities For LGBTQIA+ Communities," Wagner and USC researchers Vanessa Kitzie, Nick Vera, and Valerie Vera presented the results of their study of over 100 LGBTQIA+ community leaders and library workers. According to Wagner, the work examined how LGBTQIA+ individuals and communities create, seek, share, and use health information and what potential roles, if any, libraries and library professionals might play in providing spaces and support in LGBTQIA+ health information work.

The researchers recommend that public libraries expand their strategies to include "outreach, community engagement, and mutual aid initiatives characterized by explicit advocacy for LGBTQIA+ communities and community organizing approaches."

Wagner's research explores the social and technical challenges and opportunities informing how LGBTQIA+ communities digitally curate and preserve their identities, histories, and culture and identifies the roles and responsibilities of institutions in aiding that work. Prior to joining the iSchool at Illinois, they served as a lecturer in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. Wagner holds a PhD in information science from the University of South Carolina. 

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