iSchool Public Libraries Initiative (IPLI)

IPLI is an intellectual home for iSchool faculty and students who are interested in researching public libraries, applying their research to public libraries, or using public library data in their research.

About the initiative

The iSchool Public Libraries Initiative supports research and generates information, guidance, and reports that inform the conversations occurring in and around public-focused libraries between their staff, administrators, boards of trustees, funders, and community members. The products of the Initiative support decision-making by library administration and the creation of new services. In addition, the Initiative staff (i.e., faculty and students) provide services to the library community, including learning opportunities (e.g., webinars) and consulting activities.

As part of the Syracuse University School of Information Studies, the iSchool Public Libraries Initiative allows students to use knowledge gained in the MSLIS program, together with knowledge gained as part of the Initiative, to promote the good that libraries are doing and the innovations they are implementing. Through their work in the Initiative, students become both researchers and reporters.

At the iSchool Public Library Initiative, we …

  • Research the state of public libraries, and their communities, with a focus on information needed by decision-makers and advocates.
  • Compile and disseminate information (what and how) on innovations in libraries. By sharing what is already occurring, the Initiative furthers its goal to spark additional innovations in libraries.
  • Learn how libraries are innovating, and use that knowledge to help other libraries build their capacity to innovate.
  • Apply SU iSchool research (e.g., privacy, use of information technology in marginalized communities) to the public library setting.
  • Develop white papers, trade/scholarly articles, webinars, and presentations for use by the public library community on specific topics related to library innovation.
  • Offer classes/professional development for library staff, administration, and trustees on topics including the collection and use of data to support their activities.


Elia, H (under review) “Health and Wellness Literature Review.” SJSU Student Research Journal.

Elia, H. (forthcoming) “Why Document?” The Political Librarian.

Unrein, S. (May 2020) “Overdue Fines: Advantages, Disadvantages, and How Eliminating Them Can Benefit Public Libraries.” (white paper). Syracuse, NY: iSchool Public Libraries Initiative at Syracuse University.

Unrein, S. (May 2019) “What Makes a Good Library Website?” (white paper). Syracuse, NY: iSchool Public Libraries Initiative at Syracuse University.

Hurst-Wahl, J. (Feb. 2019) “Working to Give Libraries More Actionable Information – Peer to Peer Review.” Library Journal. MSLIS students and IPLI researchers Heather Elia, Georgia Westbrook, and Sabrina Unrein contributed to the article.

Elia, H. (Nov. 2018) Public Libraries Supporting Health and Wellness. Syracuse University iSchool InfoSpace.

Sebastian, M., & Shumar, W. (2018). “The Digital Age and the Social Imaginary.” In F. Thouvenin, P. Hettich, H. Burkert, & U. Gasser (Eds.) Remembering and Forgetting in the Digital Age, Law, Governance, & Technology, series 38, Springer, Berlin. (Also have PDF if can’t access through library)

Get in touch.

Interested in working on research in the library and information science field? Email us any time.