The Center for Children's Books

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


Current Research Spotlight

Interview with Rachel Magee

"You have the opportunity to really change people’s lives, and you never know when that’s going to happen."

It’s been a busy time for youth services at GSLIS, with the latest news being Dr. Rachel Magee’s introduction to the youth services team as an Assistant Professor. Now that the semester is in full swing, the CCB was pleased to sit down with Dr. Magee to learn about her background and the perspective she brings to the field.

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

What brought you into library science? Did you always know you wanted to work in the field?
Tell me more about your research interests. What inspired you to pursue those questions?
What are some challenges you see in your research?
What are some opportunities that have come out of your research?
Tell me more about how you plan to get youth involved in the research process. What does that look like?
Where do you think your research will go from here?
What advice do you have for aspiring youth librarians?
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you or your work?


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.

The 2015 GSLIS Research Showcase had a strong showing of CCB affiliate participation. Assistant Professor Liz Hoiem gave a presentation entitled, “Mechanical Literacies of the Industrial Revolution,” and doctoral students Melissa Hayes and DeAnza Williams presented on their research regarding “#Diverse Children’s Literature: Examining Social Media’s Role.” The first poster session featured the Closing the App Gap I grant project, spearheaded by CCB Director and Bulletin Editor Deborah Stevenson, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Kate McDowell, and PhD student Cass Mabbott.

Assistant Professor Emily Knox attended Fresno State’s April 2015 conference titled Outlawed: The Naked Truth About Censored Literature For Young People. Knox gave a presentation, “Teenagers Are Not Young Adults: Age, Innocence, and The Censorship of Children’s Literature,” in which she explored various definitions of “childhood” and “innocence” and their effects on efforts to censor children’s literature. More information about the presentation can be found here in the GSLIS Newsroom.

Assistant Professor and CCB affiliate Liz Hoiem will be presenting a talk entitled “British Industrial Labor Movements and the Origins of Modern Adolescence” at the Mapping the Landscapes of Childhood Conference, exploring the effect of early labor laws on the changing understandings of adolescence. The conference, hosted by the Institute for Child and Youth Studies, will be held May 8 and 9 at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada.

On Friday, April 10 and Saturday, April 11, GSLIS students held a Symposium on LIS Education featuring invited presentations, open “unconference” discussions, and refereed presentations on a wide range of issues. Topics in youth services included embracing technology, researching GBTQ information-seeking behavior, diversity in young adult services, and more. For more information about the symposium, visit

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.

On Monday, April 13, Jenkins gave a presentation entitled, "LGBTQ Realism: A Brief History of YA Books with LGBTQ Content, 1967-2015," held at the CCB by the GSLIS Queer Library Alliance. In her presentation, she discussed the evolution of various frameworks for inclusion in young adult literature as they moved from homosexual visibility to gay assimilation and eventually queer consciousness and community. In addition to investigating the statistical evolution of LGBTQ content in YA literature, Jenkins cited numerous examples from the 1960s until today, all of which you can find on her presentation slides here (in PDF). For full audio of the recording with the PowerPoint presentation, click here to open the presentation with Blackboard Collaborate.

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.

CCB Director Deborah Stevenson recently participated in a number of invited talks and conferences around the country. Stevenson presented 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 spoke on a panel at the University of Chicago's GradUCon to discuss hybrid admin/research and teaching careers. Stevenson also participated 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 also recently presented a number of inviting talks both on and off campus . 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 was 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.”

Tilley has also received the Arnold O. Beckman Award, a prestigious campus award that will support a new project in her extensive research on comics. This project, entitled “Children, Comics, and Print Culture,” will culminate in the publication of a monograph. Click here for more information, or find the full article in the GSLIS newsroom.


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.