By: Diane Stirling
A new initiative at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) offers an enriched graduate education experience to students who want to become leaders in librarianship and to develop skills that are applicable to a wide range of 21st-century careers that are redefining what it means to be a librarian.
“The Expect More Scholarship program is designed to provide promising students with all the graduate education experiences that will lead directly to career success,” said Jeff Stanton, Interim Dean at the iSchool.
The program offers one-on-one pairing of students with iSchool library faculty, experts who are some of the profession’s most compelling and innovative educators; two years of applied, pertinent work/research experience; industry networking and professional development opportunities; and significant scholarship and financial support.
A select group of students in the entering class of Summer/Fall 2015 Master’s in Library and Information Science degree program will become the inaugural Expect More Library Scholars.
This program is designed “to provide students with the opportunity to work with expert library educators who are leading and shaping innovations that are refocusing libraries – and librarians – in the 21st century,” said R. David Lankes, Professor and Dean’s Scholar for New Librarianship at the iSchool, and one of the library profession’s leading thinkers, noted speakers, and innovative voices in the field today.
He noted how the program’s structure comprises a unique educational experience that goes well beyond classroom learning alone. “What we’re talking about is involvement with active faculty who are creating the future of the field, and we’re inviting our students to join us,” Lankes explained. “This is a way of building a really close relationship with people who are changing the field, and students are going to be part of that change from day one. It follows a similar strategy to a doctoral program, very much the idea of really building a network of outstanding librarians and library educators with people who are out there changing the field. We have people here doing brilliant work in many areas, and our faculty are preparing better librarians for better libraries.”
The program features:
- Pairing of each “Expect More” Library Scholar to a specific faculty member, a mentor who is carefully matched to the student’s career field of interest, for the two years of the graduate education program;
- A 50% tuition scholarship award, funded by a generous bequest from the late Estelle Wilhelm, herself a librarian and MLS alumna of the school;
- A paid faculty assistant position – a job working directly with the paired faculty member, on projects in the student’s field of interest, for 20 hours per week during the academic year, over the two years of the program;
- A fund of $1,000 for student travel to library conferences, industry networking events, and professional development activities.
“The 'Expect More' program is intended for students from a wide range of interests and who are interested in a wide range of careers in business, government, communities, and academia,” said Lankes. In addition to the library degree itself, the iSchool offers a diverse set of graduate certificates – such as the Certificate of Advanced Study in Data Science – that can help library professional address the professional challenges they will face in the field.
The iSchool’s “Expect More” initiative also includes efforts to raise awareness of the paradigm shift underway in library education, the librarian profession, the in-library environment, and the way libraries fit into their communities today through an “Expect More” World Tour, featuring Lankes as a keynote speaker.
As a noted author of three books that describe the “new librarianship” model, Lankes will address how libraries will become models of innovation for their communities and how librarians can lead that charge. The 2015 speaking tour will include events both in the United States and around the world.
Lankes’ “Expect More World Tour” begins at the Mid-Winter meeting of the American Library Association in Chicago on February 2, where he will speak on the topic, “Radical Conversations.” Other dates include the Tech Logic Showcase (Miami, March 20); the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) Conference (July 2, in Liverpool, England); then will travel to Italy; New Zealand (November 7-11, at the Library and Information Association of New Zealand); then on to Australia.
The focus of these talks will be on how libraries and the field of librarianship are shifting focus from collections and buildings to communities and civic empowerment, and with this shift comes more hopeful and confident narratives around libraries and librarians. “In our cities, our schools, our universities, our hospitals, and our businesses, libraries are essential and can be so much more than what communities expect of them,” says Lankes. “Where once we looked to libraries to warehouse materials, we now look to them to help forward community aspirations through knowledge and learning.”