iSchool and College of Nursing Secure $100,000 Grant Researching Libraries and Childhood Development

With IMLS Funding, iSchool Launches Investigation into How Library-Health Practitioner Partnerships can support Infants’ Early Development

In August 2021, a research team from Kent State University's School of Information working in partnership with Kent State’s College of Nursing received a National Leadership Planning Grant for Libraries from the Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS) for $99,982.

The funds will support the first stages of what Katie Campana, Ph.D., principal investigator, and Michelle Baldini, MLS, co-investigator from the School of Information, and Elaine Thomas, MSN, RN, CNE, co-investigator from the College of Nursing, have named Project SHIELD (Supporting Healthy Infant Early Learning and Development).

The team has designed the project to explore how library and healthcare practitioner partnerships can support families with young children, 0-24 months, from underserved communities with brain development, learning and health for their young children. Campana said that the project was inspired by the need for additional support for families, particularly those in underserved communities, with early childhood learning and health during the first 24 months of life. 

During this planning stage, the team will use surveys, interviews, participatory design workshops and focus groups to understand the ways in which libraries are currently supporting families with very young children and how healthcare-practitioner partnerships might help enhance and expand these efforts. The project will also explore the needs that families with children, ages 0-24 months, have with early brain development, learning and health. 

The team is especially excited to have Kent State’s Brain Health Research Institute (BHRI) supporting these efforts through its work on Project SHIELD’s advisory board. The BHRI works to foster and support collaborative research and educational programs leading to innovative discoveries about the brain that can improve the health of our communities and beyond.

“This project will cement the role that libraries can play with supporting early learning from day one, especially during the time when brain development is most active,” Mike Lehman, Ph.D., director of the BHRI, said in a statement of support for Project SHIELD. The Brain Health Research Institute believes that Project SHIELD’s research has the potential to inspire collaborative efforts that positively impact infants’ healthy development across the nation.

And it’s that potential for national impact that fuels the research team. Baldini said that not only will this planning grant lead to findings in itself, but it will provide an opportunity for the research team to develop a larger project. The ultimate goal of the project, Campana said, is to “establish on a national level how library practitioners can partner with healthcare practitioners to be catalysts for supporting learning and health for the youngest members of their communities.”

This fall, Project SHIELD plans to initiate its first stage of research and take its first major step in achieving that goal.


This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 

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POSTED: Tuesday, August 31, 2021 - 9:07am
UPDATED: Tuesday, August 31, 2021 - 12:19pm