Estate gift from Grosse Pointe Public Library patron creates scholarship for School of Information Sciences graduate students

An unexpected bequest from a longtime Grosse Pointe Woods resident, Vivien McDonald, to the Grosse Pointe Library Foundation inspired the organization to give $156,000 to establish a diversity scholarship at Wayne State University’s School of Information Sciences (SIS). The Vivien McDonald and Grosse Pointe Library Foundation Endowed Scholarship will provide a scholarship to one information sciences graduate student every year in perpetuity.

Jessica Keyser, SIS alumna and Director, Grosse Pointe Library, Paul Bracke, Dean of the School of Information Sciences and University Library System, and Paige Domzalski, Executive Director, Grosse Pointe Library Foundation.  Jessica and Paige were instrumental in coordinating this gift and establishing the new scholarship.

Director of the Grosse Pointe Library Jessica Keyser ’04, MLIS ’08, said the scholarship will encourage more diverse staffing for libraries in Grosse Pointe, Detroit and beyond. She noted encouraging and supporting more people to become librarians is the best way to honor McDonald.

"The heart of the library is the staff. And I feel like the best investment we can make is to continue to have the best, most well-trained, qualified, highest caliber of staff here," said Keyser. “By being a library patron throughout her life, I think Vivien recognized that, and we're honoring her legacy by providing this pathway to the field.”

Paul Bracke, dean of School of Information Sciences and University Libraries, expressed gratitude for the Grosse Pointe Library Foundation's generosity.

“By assisting deserving students, this scholarship will help more future librarians and leaders complete their education,” said Bracke. “The more we can empower students to be successful, the more they can do for the diverse communities they go on to serve.”

Scholarship applicants write a short statement describing their commitment to diversity in the library science field, their work experience and career goals, and list memberships in library science-related professional and student organizations such as the Wayne State Future Librarians for Inclusivity and Diversity (FLID). In addition to FLID and diversity-centered scholarships, SIS employs a DEI programming and outreach graduate student assistant (DEI GSA) who connects with students from historically underrepresented backgrounds.

“It was my job to recruit students, but especially students of color, who may not know that libraries are an opportunity for them,” said former DEI GSA Tori Robinson, who recently graduated with her MLIS. “I am so excited that this new scholarship is prioritizing students committed to providing library services to underrepresented persons and giving more students an opportunity to fulfill their education to inspire and support communities.”

McDonald passed away at the age of 95 in April 2023. She frequented the Woods Branch of the Grosse Pointe Library and loved opera, art and reading. She authored two unpublished books in Spanish following a childhood in Colombia.

Peggy Kitchel, the retired assistant director of the Grosse Pointe Library, remembers McDonald fondly.

“Vivien loved coming to the library,” said Kitchel. “She was an active participant in our Great Books group. I can’t remember a time when she missed the discussion. She was very intelligent, quietly tenacious about her opinions and had a quirky sense of humor.”

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