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Africa Hands.

Published March 12, 2024


UB scholar secures ALISE research grant to investigate career services in LIS graduate programs

A researcher at the University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education recently received a grant to investigate career services in graduate library and information science programs.

Africa S. Hands, assistant professor in the Department of Information Science, won the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) Research Grant Program Competition, allowing her to continue her research on how library and information science graduate programs prepare students for the job market. Her one-year project, “Positioning LIS Students for Career Success,” will survey current LIS program administrators and enrolled graduate students to better understand the needs of students related to career services and preparation, as well as what is currently being offered through graduate programs. Hands was awarded $5,000.

“Research shows that even at the graduate level, students may possess limited knowledge of the profession they plan to enter,” said Hands. “For those without professional role models, career development and preparation services are particularly vital.”

The Research Grant Program Competition awards funding annually to support research broadly related to education for library and information science.

“As LIS job seekers report such long and frustrating job search experiences that they consider leaving the field entirely, insights from this research will inform the creation or improvement of career services for LIS students, advance discussion of career services for graduate students, and identify exemplars that can be used to guide programming efforts. We are so excited for Africa,” said X. Christine Wang, professor, assistant dean for interdisciplinary research, and director of the Fisher-Price Endowed Early Childhood Research Center.

This project builds on Hands’ already robust research activities. In 2021, she received a three-year early career grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to support her project, “Public Library Support of College Literacy in Appalachia,” which focuses on examining public libraries as an information resource for college-bound patrons.

In addition, through her service and publications, she aims to improve access to and awareness of information, resources and services that move people toward their personal, professional and community goals. Her work centers on the doctoral student experience, first-generation students’ cultural and social capital, and public library support for college-bound patrons.

“We hear from graduates that the job search process is grueling. Supporting students’ career planning while they are completing their degree may make for a smoother transition to the field,” said Hands. “It’s important that our graduates are prepared for the myriad possibilities of an LIS degree and career.”

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