Research is important, but, says McClure, "I care about making a difference with the research, for people to have better access, for libraries to better plan their technology.”
Francis Eppes Professor, College of Information
The Patriot Act versus Privacy. With Charles McClure on watch, we can breathe easier about our civil liberties.
The right to access government information and the responsibility of the federal government to make that information available are issues that Charles McClure has "consistently fought for" in his 30-year academic career. He has spent "a lot of time" in Washington working on a range of information policy topics, including the Telecommunications Act and privacy issues arising from electronic records management, Homeland Security and the Patriot Act.
In 1999, McClure relinquished his Distinguished Professorship at Syracuse for Florida State to become the first Francis Eppes professor and to establish the Information Use Management & Policy Institute. "I saw an opportunity to develop a strong research arm with the College of Information." Today, the Institute has its own facility and has garnered nearly $3 million in funded research. "Pretty good," says McClure, "for the social and policy sciences."
Research is important, but, says McClure, "I care about making a difference with the research, for people to have better access, for libraries to better plan their technology.” His current project, with John Bertot, Professor and Associate Director of the Institute, and Paul Jaeger, a doctoral student, is with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and will help the Institute achieve that.
"The Foundation is very concerned as to whether public libraries are providing access to networked information and, if so, the level of that connectivity. If you can't afford a computer, you use the one at the library, including applying for jobs. Today, most job applications must be filed online. If we can develop advocacy methods for under-connected libraries, help them convince their communities that they must have broadband, we will have made a difference."
”Information Studies begins from a user's point of view,” says McClure. He, graduate student Tommy Snead, and other graduate students, are working with the Florida Electronic Library, developed by the Florida State Library, to ensure that the digital library meets users' needs. Does it function as well as it can? Is the website compatible for use by the physically disabled? "It really pleases us to know that people in small, rural towns have access to, and are aware of, electronic information services. The world is now their oyster."
The U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services recently funded a two-year project, which will enable the Institute to provide web-based instructional modules that will assist librarians determine what type of evaluation should be used to assess services and programs. "Being able to evaluate well is essential for demonstrating the value and importance of the library in the local community," says McClure.
McClure credits the Institute's rapid progress to the strong support he receives from Dean Larry Dennis and to his “great team” of colleagues and graduate students. "There are few greater awards as an academic than to begin working with young doctoral students and then later, witness what they can accomplish." Ultimately, everyone at the Information Institute wants to make a difference.