The Center for Children's Books

Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Current Research Spotlight

Closing the App Gap Grant Project: An Interview with Deborah Stevenson, Kate McDowell, and Cass Mabbott

"That is part of library science, that when it comes to information and media, it is our role to experiment, question, explore what it can do for people and for us, especially young people."

Read the full interview or skip to a topic . . .

Could you provide a brief overview of Closing the App Gap for those unfamiliar with the project?
What was the inspiration for getting this project started?
There are tons of educational apps available now. How did you decide which ones to study?
What was the process like for testing the apps?
I understand that you took everything and started working with the Douglass Branch of CPL. How did that collaboration get started, and how did it go?
To clarify a little bit, what was the interaction that happened when you were at Douglass?
Did anything particularly surprising come out of your research?
Do you have any suggestions for educators and librarians trying to integrate apps into their programming?
What’s the next step for this project?


Closing the App Gap I: From Plan to Project

Since November of 2013, researchers at GSLIS have been investigating a particular facet of the digital divide: the growing disparity between kids with and without access to apps at home, at school, and in the library. In collaboration with the Douglass Branch of the Champaign Public Library, researchers Deborah Stevenson, Kate McDowell, and Cass Mabbott recently completed the Closing the App Gap project, a yearlong planning grant to learn more about the current app situation among today’s youth. Click here to learn more about the project, including a list of the apps used, a description of the process, and some helpful tips for using apps in your programs.

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Affiliate Current Research Overviews

Updated montly, this section will detail conference presentations, publications, and other research activity by CCB Affiliates.

Associate professor and Bulletin reviewer Christine Jenkins has written a new book entitled Top 250 LGBTQ Books for Teens: Coming Out, Being Out, and the Search for Community with co-author Michael Cart. This annotated bibliography of LGBT-themed young adult titles includes fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, and reference material, with an emphasis on recently published works. Top 250 LGBTQ Books for Teens was released on March 2, 2015.

Associate professor and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Kate McDowell recently attended the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) Centennial Celebration, held in Chicago, Illinois January 27-30. McDowell will be serving as the co-chair for the January 2016 conference, which will be held in Boston, Massachusetts.

Also at the ALISE Centennial Celebration, PhD students Melissa Hayes and Deanza Williams presented a Works in Progress poster session on January 27 entitled “#Diverse Children’s Literature: Examining Social Media’s Role.”

Bulletin reviewer and associate professor of English Karen Coats has received the Outstanding University Researcher Award for 2015 from Illinois State University, in recognition of her research and her contribution to the discipline.

Associate professor Carol Tilley presented a talk about comics and literacy at the February 17th dinner meeting of the Altrusa Club of Champaign-Urbana.

CCB Director Deborah Stevenson will be participating in a number of invited talks and conferences in the coming months. Stevenson will present the Lois Lenski lecture at Illinois State University on Monday, March 30, in a talk entitled, “The Elephants in the Room: The Challenges of Diversity in Youth Literature.” On Tuesday, Friday, April 10, Stevenson will be speaking on a panel at the University of Chicago's GradUCon to discuss hybrid admin/research and teaching careers. Stevenson will also participate in the Texas Summit on Diversity in Youth Publishing at the Texas Library Association conference on April 14 in Austin, Texas.

CCB Affiliate and GSLIS Assistant Professor Carol Tilley is also presenting a number of inviting talks both on and off campus this month. On Tuesday, March 3, Tilley was the opening speaker for the Central Michigan University ComiConference 3, giving a talk entitled, “The Secret History of Comics Readers.” She was also an invited panelist for a seminar co-sponsored by the University Library's Scholarly Commons and the Graduate College on managing one's online scholarly presence, Friday, March 6. Finally, Tilley will be an invited speaker for a Center for Writing Studies research brownbag on Wednesday, March 11, for a talk titled, “Kids Doing Things with Comics: Reading, Writing, and Playing in History.”


Doctoral Research

The CCB maintains a list of current and recent doctoral students at GSLIS and elsewhere at the University of Illinois whose research relates to youth services or children's literature. See what kinds of work is being done on our doctoral student research page.



The Youth, Literature, & Culture group (YLC) is an interdisciplinary collaboration of faculty and doctoral students from the University of Illinois, Illinois State University, and Eastern Illinois University.

In formal existence since 2004, this group brings together faculty and doctoral students who share a scholarly interest in children’s and young adult literature and media. We represent various disciplines, including Education, English, History, Library and Information Science, and meet monthly to discuss research on young people, texts, and cultural contexts. We also participate in the annual GSLIS Research Showcase, and host the Gryphon Lecture, an annual lecture featuring a leading scholar of youth and literature, media, or culture.

For the 2014-2015 academic year, YLC will meet on selected Fridays in the CCB (Room 24 of GSLIS) from 10:00-11:00 am. All students, faculty, and staff are welcome to attend. Please email Deborah Stevenson for more details.


Gryphon Lecture

The Gryphon Lecture series is hosted every spring semester by the Center for Children's Books and features a leading scholar in the field of youth literature. It is an event developed to hold relevance across disciplines at the University. These lectures are free and open to students and the public. A reception to discuss issues raised, network across departments, and meet with the speaker follows each lecture. Visit our Gryphon Lecture page for archives of previous speakers and audio of past lectures.

Research Archives

Archived information about previous conferences, presentations, and research profiles is kept in our research archives.