This article identifies collaborations that were significant in the planning and development of the ITRL grant proposal and explores ongoing partnerships in the project's five phases that include: recruitment of ITRL students, needs assessment of rural library services, implementation of educational and training activities, mentoring, evaluation and assessment of program outcomes, and dissemination of program results and experiences.
In the grant proposal ITRL was initially conceptualized to allow UT's SIS to collaborate with a team of regional library systems in East Tennessee: Clinch-Powell Regional Library (Clinton, Tennessee), Sevier County Public Library System (Sevierville, Tennessee), and the Watauga Regional Library (Johnson City, Tennessee).
A pilot study was conducted to assist in funding of the ITRL grant proposal with the goal to explore the perspectives of East Tennessee's regional librarians about the extent of their need for a professional library education to integrate IT competencies and rural librarianship skills in their SCA work environments (Mehra, Black, & Lee, 2010).
The planning and development of the ITRL grant proposal was informed by ongoing feedback provided by paraprofessional students in the UT's SIS DE program and regional librarians in the UT's SIS advisory board and alumni networks that developed a fuller picture about the context of study.
The ITRL Recruitment Board consists of 10 members (both MLS and non-MLS professionals) who are directors and staff members of partnering regional library systems and others in the SCA region.
An ITRL Needs Assessment Symposium (online and face-to-face meetings) was conducted in March/April 2010 and 50 library and information professionals from across the SCA region provided feedback about library services and information challenges experienced in their rural libraries.
Collaborations in ITRL Phase 3: Educational and Training Implementation
Beginning in summer 2010, ITRL students enrolled in two courses per semester including the summer session.
The ITRL team is exploring the possibilities of collaborations in the ITRL IT courses and is identifying partnerships to facilitate student developed course outcomes related to: (1) creation and use of technology and online tools (e.
Management outcomes in the ITRL rural library courses include:
The ITRL team is exploring the possibilities of collaborations in the ITRL rural librarianship courses and is identifying partnerships to facilitate student developed course outcomes related to: (1) library service evaluation based on understanding of user needs as assessed by students and the library; (2) working with individual libraries and their employees and patrons to offer appropriate services and materials responding to changes in expectations of various populations (based on technology prospects, current interests, user activities, etc.
Sixteen librarians with MLS degrees have formed the ITRL Practitioner-Mentoring Board that is working with ITRL educators beginning May 2010 to tailor individual students' academic programs in integrating IT competencies to meet the needs of their rural libraries and communities.