Event encourages minority enrollment in library sciences

By Rosemary Powers

In an effort to promote minority enrollment in the University’s Library and Information Science program, the African American Cultural Center hosted a panel to show how students, regardless of their background, can get involved in librarianship.

The Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences at the University houses the number one library and information science program in the country, said Angela Clark, assistant program director at the cultural center.

The event, held Wednesday, hosted Emily Love, librarian for multicultural services at the University, along with a panel of other librarians to share their experiences in their career field.

“People don’t make logical connections about what you can do with a library and information sciences degree,” Love said. “It is generally an overlooked major on many college campuses.”

The University plans to extend its program to add an undergraduate informatics major next fall. Although the program has found success at the University, many are trying to encourage minority participation in this white-dominated profession.

“We desperately need diversity in the librarian profession,” said panelist Adriana Cuervo. “People in libraries have questions. They want to talk to people who are like themselves and who they can relate to.”

Allison Sutton, a member of the featured librarian panel, explained how she eventually became a librarian after a previous career.

“Originally, librarianship was not my career plan,” Sutton said. “But, I was not passionate doing the job that I was doing before, and I found out that there’s a whole lot going on in libraries that I never knew existed.”

The Library and Information Sciences program also offers other scholarship opportunities, including the ALA Spectrum Scholarship and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Scholarship to encourage minority participants.

“I think these scholarship opportunities will definitely help the college’s initiative to get more minority participation,” Love said. “Tuition is expensive, no matter who you are, and a student can’t help put inexpensive education on their radar.”

The African American Cultural Center hosts the librarian outreach program every week as part of their “Lunch and Learn” program.

“My goal is to increase student knowledge and interest about this program, because graduate school increases the marketability of a student when they enter the career search,” Clark said.

Students who have attended the cultural center events, such as Wednesday’s library outreach, have found them very beneficial.

“This event shed a lot of light on the benefits of the University’s program,” said Natalie Mitchell, junior in LAS. “A lot of us were in the dark about it, but the panelists were from diverse backgrounds and had a lot of information to offer.”