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Lecture series at Illinois to explore ‘digital divide’

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9/13/2012 | Madeline Ley, News Bureau intern | 217-333-0567;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN,Ill. — Overcoming the disparity of the “digital divide” – the gap between people who have access to modern technology and those who do not – is the subject of a lecture series sponsored by the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois.

An annual event begun in 2008, the series begins Sept. 19 (Wednesday) and will be recorded; video will be posted online two days after each lecture. An archive of past lectures is available at

Kate Williams, a professor of library and information science and a co-host of the program, said the collection serves as a portrait of Champaign-Urbana’s transition into the information age. “The advances can be celebrated and the gaps have to be addressed by us working together as a campus and a community,” she said.

This year, the series will include educators, museum directors, ministers, city officials, librarians, lawyers and a fire chief.

“It's always a terrific and down-to-earth complement to the theory and scholarly work students read and use in their classes and research at GSLIS and elsewhere at the U. of I.,” Williams said. “There are usually surprises as to who’s actually digitally divided and who’s using technology in ways outsiders haven’t imagined.”

The 50-minute lectures begin at 11 a.m. in the Henderson Room of the Library and Information Science Building, 501 E. Daniel St., Champaign. On Oct. 4, the lecture will be in room 209 in the Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana.

The lectures are free and open to the public.

The schedule:

Sept. 19: Annie Clay, the director of the Help Book Online, a human services directory for Champaign County; respondent: Barry Ackerson, associate dean and director of the master’s of social work program at Illinois.

Sept. 26: the Rev. Willie G. Comer, Berean Covenant Church, Champaign; Will Kyles, City Council member, Champaign; Chris Hamb, Chrisp Media, Champaign.

Oct. 4: Donald Owen, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, Urbana School District 116.

Oct. 10: Michael Dilley, fire chief, Urbana.

Oct. 17: Jon Gant, Research Associate Professor, GSLIS, and the director of the proposed Center for Digital Inclusion; respondent: J. Steven Downie, associate dean of research, GSLIS.

Oct. 24: Dr. William Schuh, chief medical information officer, Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana; respondent: Jerry Dewitt, library manager, Carle Foundation Hospital.

Oct. 31: John Wagstaff, professor of library and information science, and librarian for the U. of I. Music and Performing Arts Library.

Nov. 7: Denise Osler-Brown, former computer instructor, Douglass Branch Library, Champaign.

Nov. 14: Katie Abrams, professor of agricultural communications; Abigail Sackmann, research assistant, agricultural communications and GSLIS.

Nov. 28: Valerie McWilliams, managing lawyer, Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance, Champaign; Stacie Colston Patterson, outreach coordinator, Illinois Legal Aid Online, based in Chicago.

Dec. 5: Blaine Fahey, of Chicago, the developer of Illinois App for the iPhone (tentative); respondent: Lissette Piedra, professor of social work.

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