Student Profiles

In addtion to earning a Master's degree in Library and Information Science from a top-rated program, Community Informatics students complete three courses that help them understand how communities use information and technology to solve problems at a grassroots level. Students also gain hands-on experience by working on real-world projects in their communities, and conducting their own research studies. Community Informatics students come from a variety of disciplines and work backgrounds including academic, public and school libraries; museums and cultural centers; education; information technology; social work; journalism; communications; fine arts; sociology; literature and others.

Scroll down to learn more about CI students and their work:

Jeff Ginger

B.S. Sociology, minor Computer Science
M.A. Sociology
PhD Candidate, Graduate School of Library and Information Science


Social and community informatics, or more specifically: Facebook, the Digital Divide and helping communities with technology.

Career goals:

To start and lead a small organization, or direct efforts within an organization toward combating the Digital Divide and helping disadvantaged persons. "I want to employ a variety of skills - academic, technical, leadership - and be in an environment where I can pursue my various evolving passions amongst other driven people."


-Leadership (student organizations, teaching, social networking, organization)
-Discourse (perspective-taking, intergroup dialogue, debate)
-Academic (research, writing and communication, evaluation)
-Technical (technician, development, website management)
-Artistic (graphic design, recording audio/video, photography)

"I’ve had a chance to foster all of these in different ways over the years in classes, organizations, jobs and recreation."

Coursework: In spring of 2008, Jeff did a self-led project on the computer resources in libraries in Illinois that serve predominantly African-American populations. It was called Digital Divide 2.0.

"I created my own study design and called to survey dozens of libraries in small towns and rural counties in Illinois to see how well they facilitated the authorship of digital content. Not only did the study produce a database that I’d like to continue working with but it also allowed me to forge a new theory of the latest aspect of the digital divide, what I term Digital Consciousness."

The study is available online at

John Vincler

M.A. History of the Book, University of London
Master’s student
University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science

Work Experience: John worked for Chicago-area arts and humanities institutions such as the Chicago Humanities Festival and, most recently, the Newberry Library.

In spring 2008, John facilitated collaboration between Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School (PACHS) in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood and the Newberry Library in Chicago to create a student-curated Puerto Rican history exhibit at the Newberry. Two PACHS teachers brought their Spanish language and Puerto Rican history students to the Newberry, where they researched Puerto Rican history using the library's collections, selected objects and drafted the exhibit text.  The finished bilingual exhibit, Puerto Rican History through the Eyes of Others included a late 16th century Dutch description of exploration of the West Indies (translated and published in English), a 1639 copy of a promissory note for a Spanish ship bringing slaves from Angola to “New Spain,” photographs of Puerto Rico from around the turn of the 20th century, several 19th century maps of the island, and a 1968 children's ABC book in Spanish that uses indigenous words and images. 

The students learned about research, primary sources, and museum and library studies.  In addition to the exhibit, students also created “objects lists” of 15 items that they felt could represent them.  As a result, students not only studied history but also considered their own roles in history.  Final evaluations show that the project positively affected students’ perceived relationships with libraries, research and history.

Emily Barney

Emily Barney

Master’s student
Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS)

Career goals: To work in a library where I can use my Web and e-resource management skills to help people find solutions to the problems they face everyday.

Work Experience: Emily has worked at Chicago-Kent Law Library for the past three years.
Coursework: Earlier this year, Emily worked on several projects including starting a community library at her church. She conducted an information needs assessment survey, created a catalog for patrons to browse on LibraryThing, and gave library tours to church members. She also began a young adult book blog and interviewed teens at the church to find out what kinds of materials and services they were interested in.

Outcomes: Emily said the emphasis on a service-oriented approach in Community Informatics, using surveys and ongoing conversations, was very suited to the needs of her user group.

“The Community Informatics program has helped me gain practical experiences that encouraged me to see the impact my skills can have when the focus is put back on people. As my classes progress, these principles have helped me draw out skills from my other classes that make me a more effective listener and a much better librarian.”