$1 Million Grant Will Help Meet Need for American Indian and Hispanic Librarians

TUCSON, Ariz.

A program to increase the number of American Indian and Hispanic librarians has received a grant of nearly $1 million, the University of Arizona announced.

The grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to the UA’s School of Information Resources and Library Science (SIRLS) will fund the UA’s Knowledge River program. For six years, it has offered outreach services to the community and educational opportunities for Hispanics and American Indians seeking careers as librarians or information professionals.

“There are two key issues in librarianship: the United States’ changing demographics and the small number of librarians from underrepresented cultural groups,” said Jana Bradley, the school’s director.

“In 2050, it is projected that we will be a nation of minorities,” Bradley added. “Libraries will be called upon to serve a huge diversity of clientele and it is extremely important that librarians are educated to be culturally fluent. And it is a high priority within our school and with the American Library Association to increase the number of librarians from underrepresented groups of all kinds.”

SIRLS also has finalized an agreement with the Pima County Public Library that will lead to assistantships for about six Knowledge River scholarss.

The school also received a $40,000 grant from the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records and Library Services and Technology Act to place scholars in American Indian communities.

The new project, “Knowledge River II – Building Capacity for Diversity in Library and Information Science Education,” will enable the school to enhance its program and provide 48 scholarships to master’s students.

Overall, Knowledge River’s mission is to improve the access American Indians and Hispanics have to information while also increasing their numbers in the field.

With its new funding, the school plans to offer additional courses, bring visiting lecturers to the UA, hold seminars for professionals, develop partnerships with other academic units and enhance its recruitment efforts.

In a release issued this week by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the institute announced that it had awarded more than $20 million to aid librarians at 31 institutions across the nation. The grants were awarded as part of the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program.

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