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Accessible Libraries for All: School of Library and Information Science Receives Federal Funds to Educate a New Generation of Librarians

The University of South Florida’s School of Library and Information Science in partnership with the University of Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies, was awarded $880,000 from the Institute for Museums and Library Services’ Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program. Grant funds will be used to develop a new generation of highly skilled librarians who will expand the educational role of libraries for learners of all ages, from early childhood through retirement, who face information access challenges based on physical limitations that do not qualify under National Library Services Blind and Physically Handicapped service provision.

Accessible Libraries for All (Project ALFA) focuses on raising the consciousness of library and information science students to address universal access issues for libraries and instructional support. Preparation is essential to meeting the national goal of ensuring that a sufficient number of new librarians are prepared to meet the nation’s information needs in an era when population growth, diversity, rapid change, and the graying of the population constitute real obstacles to meeting this goal.

Project ALFA will support 15 students at each partner institution enrolled in the ALA-accredited Master’s degree programs. Students will gain requisite knowledge and training to assist and serve the ably-challenged and legally-disabled populations. As part of the educational experience students will complete two model universal access courses and participate in service learning activities to prepare for their future roles as library and information professionals serving diverse populations. Project ALFA will begin the first cohort of students in Fall 2011; the second cohort is planned for Fall 2012.

Other partner agencies are the Florida Department of Education Division of Blind Services, Daytona Beach, Florida, and the Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Montgomery, Alabama. Students will have opportunities to meet and interact with representatives from each of these agencies.

Dr. Stephanie Maatta will be returning to the School of Library and Information Science in January 2011 to manage the USF arm of the Project ALFA program. As part of her responsibilities she will be recruiting, advising, and mentoring the USF cohorts of students, and serving as the USF liaison to the University of Alabama for Project ALFA.

For more information, contact: Dr. Stephanie Maatta Email: slmaatta@gmail.com


One Response

  1. Congratulations, Dr. Maatta! This sounds like a wonderful and much-needed program.

    Best wishes,
    Terran McCanna (2005 USF MLIS Grad)
    Virtual Services Librarian
    Clayton County Library System, GA

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