A federal grant of almost $450,000 will support UNCG’s Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) program as it continues to recruit and train culturally diverse librarians.
The Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grant program, administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), will provide $442,063 to support the Academic and Cultural Enrichment (ACE) Scholars: New Americans for Community College Librarianship. ACE Scholars is designed to increase cultural diversity in UNCG’s program and in the library and information field as a whole.
Principal investigator Dr. Nora Bird, assistant professor of library and information studies, and co-principal investigator Michael Crumpton, assistant dean of UNCG University Libraries, say increasing diversity in the field is essential to keep up with the changing face of America and the Triad.
“New Americans are underrepresented in the library field and North Carolina has a growing diversity in its population,” Bird says. “The Triad is especially poised to help with this situation because the population not only reflects the diversity of many large U.S. cities but also has a growing population of ‘New Americans.’ The Center for New North Carolinians and the Newcomers School place UNCG in a good position to attract people from these underrepresented groups.”
IMLS received 84 applications requesting a total of $29,146,953. It awarded 21 grants totaling $6,100,806.
This award marks the third IMLS grant to fund ACE Scholars. The first grant of $862,000 supported the training of 14 ACE Scholars who completed their MLIS in spring 2011. The second grant of $889,401 supports 20 ACE Scholars, the majority who are expected to complete their MLIS this spring.
The third cohort will include 10 students who already have undergraduate degrees as MLIS-credentialed librarians. The goal is to place those librarians at community colleges in North Carolina and other states where the need is great.
“Many first-generation college-goers, people who are getting English language training and retraining in new skills, make up the community college student population,” Bird says. “Forty-nine percent of all undergraduates go to the community college first. Research has shown that people are more comfortable approaching a librarian who looks more like them. That is why diversity is so important for the community college library.”
ACE Scholars is a collaboration with UNCG Libraries, with support and internship opportunities from 10 academic libraries across North Carolina. Clara M. Chu, LIS department chair, and Gerald Holmes, reference librarian/diversity coordinator, are working with Bird and Crumpton to support ACE Scholars.
Applicants for ACE Scholars should have a bachelor’s degree in any subject, should take the GRE (Graduate Record Examination), and should be interested in working in the community college environment. Community college experience is desirable.