Why SIS Values Diversity
As the demography of communities across America continues to change, it is increasingly significant to create and promote diversity within the information profession to better serve our communities. Diversity is one of the five core values of the American Library Association (ALA). ALA believes attaining a workforce that is richly diverse will assist in providing the highest quality of information services to all people in libraries and other information institutions. Contributing to creating a diverse workforce, ALA created several scholarships and programs to recruit and retain librarians from historically underrepresented backgrounds.
SIS supports this value and strives to build a culture that encourages diversity and inclusion. SIS is part of one of the most racially and culturally diverse campuses in the country. Wayne State University is a prominent member of the Midtown community. Our community includes Detroit's cultural center, the home of several cultural institutions including the Detroit Institute of Art and the Detroit Historical Museum. Additionally, campus is just minutes away from several other culturally distinguished cities such as Hamtramck and Dearborn. Individuals matriculate at Wayne State from all over the world for an urban educational experience. Irrespective of the program of study, Wayne State University truly offers a world class education.
Through a concerted effort, research, and dedication, SIS believes the goals of developing an inclusive environment and increasing the representation of underrepresented groups will be reached. Listed below are diversity-related initiatives supported by the school.
Future Librarians for Diversity and Inclusivity (FLID)
Future Librarians for Inclusivity and Diversity (FLID) provides a safe space for future Information science professionals to gain a better understanding of diversity within the profession and underserved populations in preparation for working with individuals from these groups.
The purpose shall be effectuated through:
- Exposing SIS students to diverse cultures, lifestyles, and physical abilities by promoting and organizing both on-campus events and off-campus events and excursions.
- Organizing extracurricular educational opportunities for SIS students. (i.e. teach-ins, workshops, lectures, etc.)
- Holding regular discussion forums for SIS students to respectfully exchange ideas about diversity and inclusion issues in the information field.
- Promoting awareness of the information sciences profession among underrepresented group
Project RUSL, Restoring Urban School Libraries
Wayne State University School of Information Sciences Associate Professor Kafi Kumasi has been awarded an IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program award of $247,152 for "Project RUSL: Restoring Urban School Libraries." The project will provide education and professional development for six diverse classroom teachers who work in the Harper Woods and River Rouge school districts. The teachers will become certified school librarians and build capacity to restore the school libraries in their respective buildings.
Project RUSL will also build a video library of evidence-based practices of school librarianship and culturally responsive pedagogy based on Kumasi's InFLOmation model, a hip-hop inquiry-based approach to school library instruction that helps capture and facilitate youth's culturally specific information-creating behaviors in ways that mimic and flow out of hip-hop culture.
Past Diversity Projects
Project IDoL, which ran from 2013-2016, is a collaboration between the Wayne State University School of Information Sciences and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Library Alliance. WSU SIS and the HBCU Library Alliance have received funding from the IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program to increase the diversity of the library profession. In this project, the two partner organizations are recruiting, mentoring, and providing an online Master of Library and Information Science degree to 10 students from historically underrepresented groups in order to achieve greater diversity among practicing library professionals. SIS provides the education with its online MLIS format and the HBCU Library Alliance assists with recruitment and retention by overseeing mentorship of the selected students by library professionals with senior level experience and prior mentorship training.
All Project IDoL students were recruited in the Spring of 2014 and began their studies in Fall 2014.
Complete details about Project IDoL are available on its website: idol.sis.wayne.edu
Project ALFA, which operated from 2011-2013, was a partnership between Wayne State University, the University of Alabama, the Alabama Public Library Service, and the Florida Department of Education Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library Services. Project ALFA was a specialization within an ALA-accredited Master's degree program centered on a philosophy of service to a diverse community. It was designed to do so by providing 30 masters degree fellowships. Project ALFA sought to prepare library and information center professionals who will lead the way in spreading a universal access philosophy as the population of Information seekers with physiological challenges is increasing rapidly due to the graying of American among other factors.
Project ALFA fellows were prepared to serve an aging population of information seekers, connecting them to information through various technologies in all types of library and information agencies. Project ALFA Fellows disseminate and diffuse the ALFA philosophy in the organizations where they will work through daily work flow as well as through more formal channels such as in-service and continuing education with colleagues in this field, at professional conferences, and special projects.
Fellows learned to incorporate a universal access philosophy into most areas of library and information services, including the use of assistive technologies and other information and communication technologies (ICTs). More details can be found at http://projectalfa.sis.ua.edu/.
Library Issues Mini-Summit: Diversity
The "Library Issues Mini-Summit" was hosted by the faculty of the School of Information Sciences on September 24, 2009. The focus of the mini-summit, co-hosted by the School's Diversity Council, was "Diversity in Libraries." Over fifty librarians and information professionals from across the region came together to consider how to recruit a more diverse workforce to the library and information professions, how the School can recruit more students from under-represented groups, and how to infuse a consideration of diversity issues across the MLIS curriculum.
The morning keynote presentation by Ms. Sandra Phoenix, Director of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Library Alliance in Atlanta, discussed how to recruit a more diverse student body.
The luncheon keynote presentation by Ms. Nonie Price, Alumni Relations and Continuing Education Coordinator for the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science, discussed the opportunities and challenges of involving library professionals in her School's diversity recruitment and retention efforts.