Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Photo of Iulian Vamanu, School of Library and Information Science and Lucie Laurian, School of Planning and Public Affairs

Three School of Planning and Public Affairs faculty will work with colleagues in the School of Library and Information Science, the Department of Sociology and the Tippie College of Business on a $150,000 interdisciplinary grant to evaluate how public libraries mitigate community vulnerabilities and build resilience to climate, social, and economic risks.

The research project, “Public Libraries for Disaster Resilience: Assessing Libraries’ Community Impacts in Times of Climate and Socio-Economic Crises,” received funding through the University of Iowa’s Jumpstarting Tomorrow Initiative. The research was one of five projects selected for the program’s first round of grants.

“Libraries provide welcoming spaces and essential services during crises: shelter from extreme weather for the poor and homeless, internet access, job search and training during economic recessions, and reliable information during crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” said principal investigator Lucie Laurian, professor and director, School of Planning and Public Affairs. Using spatial, quantitative, qualitative, and social media data mining methods, the project will yield a public-facing report of the findings, produce scholarly publications, and serve as a pilot study for several major external grant proposals. 

This project will also utilize team-building methods to develop a launching platform for a sustainable UI-wide interdisciplinary research group focused on Community Resilience. The team will engage scholars from the Schools of Social Work, Public Health, Education, Journalism and Mass Communication, Geography and Sustainability Sciences, and more. Community-building ideation gatherings will intentionally build on insights from Team Science, Place Studies, Liberating Structures, and Information Behaviors theories. The gatherings will be designed to appeal to academics’ intellectual curiosity, bring scholars to unusual places to spark idea collisions, and foster research group consciousness. The project will involve undergraduate and graduate students in meaningful research, and engage partners beyond the UI campus (e.g., library Directors, philanthropists).

Co-principal investigators and collaborators on the project are Iulian Vamanu and Kara Logsden, School of Library and Information Science; Jennifer Glanville, Sociology and Criminology; Phuong Nguyen and Haifeng Qian, School of Planning and Public Affairs; and Kang Zhao, Business Analytics.