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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


Dr. Henrietta M. Smith Participates in HistoryMakers Back to School Week

In celebration of HistoryMakers Back to School Week, Dr. Henrietta M. Smith addressed students at the Park Vista High School, Lake Worth, Florida. HistoryMakers (http://www.thehistorymakers.com/) is a program founded in 1999. There goal is to interview and preserve the life story of those who have “made significant accomplishments in life of both ‘well-born and unsung African American History Makers. – going beyond the Civil Rights movement, music, sports and entertainment’.”

(Pictured from L-R) Principal Reginald B. Myers, Author Glennette Turner, Dr. Henrietta M. Smith, Instructor Audrey Spicer, and Asst. Principal LuAnne Daucanski

For the HistoryMakers go back to school week, those whose interviews were on record, were invited to address students in a school in their home area.  Henrietta M. Smith was invited to speak to students at Park Vista High School in Lake Worth, Florida.  Addressing an audience of over 250 ninth graders, she spoke of her childhood with a mother who believed that proper speech was essential to “get anywhere” in life and so sent her to elocution school.  There Smith attests, she learned the beauty of poetry from the Bible to the works of writers of the Harlem Renaissance period. She shared with listeners the distinction between dialect and standard English, quoting from the works of Paul Laurence Dunbar.  She shared with the students some ideas about how to live with dignity with your fellows, using excerpts from Countee Cullens The Lost Zoo. Cullens, a school teacher in Harlem taught his class of recalcitrant boys the futility of fighting, of name calling and being too vain among other subjects, all in humorous poetry with serious messages from “The Squilililigee” to “The Snake That Walked Upon His Tail”.

In speaking of career moves, Smith related that upon moving to Florida, with a background in Public Library work and a degree from Columbia University, she could not be hired at the Public Library in her community because of the color of her skin, unless she wanted to work as a page and shelve books. The necessary career change found Smith in the position of school librarian and with further study – a position at the University level. She reminded the students that without perseverance, changes can be made that enrich one’s life forever.  Her presentation was closed with sharing a laugh arousing short story from African American folk lore,  with the underlying theme that what is inside your head is more important than the color of your skin.  It was a great time with teachers who had planned well and students whose courtesy  and demeanor made the morning so worthwhile.


SLIS Alumna Sonja Garcia Receives Celebratory Graduate Alumni Award

On Thursday, September 9th, 2010 SLIS Alumna Sonja Garcia was presented with the Celebratory Graduate Alumni Award by the Dean of the Graduate School Dr. Karen Liller.

Dean of the Graduate School Dr. Karen Liller presented SLIS Alumna Sonja Garcia with the award.

The days events started off with Sonja Garcia speaking with the student organizations from 1:30-2:30 pm about her career as a librarian. Next, was a reception in the Marshall Center Ballroom from 3:00-5:00 pm. At the reception Karen Liller, Dean of the Graduate School and Associate Vice President for Research & Innovation, welcomed everyone and introduced Sonja Garcia. Then, Sonja gave a talk about the impact of her graduate education on her life.

Dr. Cora Dunkley, Sonja Garcia, and Director Jim Andrews.

People from all aspects of Sonja’s life came out to watch her receive this award. The audience included: SLIS faculty, staff and students, the graduate school staff, St. Peter Claver Catholic School board of directors and principal,  former colleagues of Mrs. Garcia’s from the USF Tampa Campus Library, Mr. Garcia and more. To read more about Sonja Garcia click here.

To see more photos from the Celebratory Alumni Award Presentation click here.


USF SLIS Present at 7th National Conference of African American Librarians

Dr. Dunkley and Dr. Slone recently attended the 7th National Conference of African American Librarians (NCAAL) in Birmingham, Alabama.  Known for its historical civil rights events, the city was a perfect setting for the conference.  Inspiring sessions, dynamic speakers, authors,  meaningful poster sessions, tours of the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Birmingham Public Library and historic Birmingham, film screenings, and eye catching and informational exhibits – including the University of South Florida School of Library and Information Science – made the conference a memorable occasion.

Dr. Slone and Dr. Dunkley spent most of their  time at the SLIS booth where many inquires were made about the SLSIS program by prospective students – especially the proposed PhD program.

As a member of the  registration committee, Dr. Dunkley spent several hours at the registration desk where she had the opportunity to meet numerous attendees.  She was elated to be greeted two library directors who indicated how pleased they were with the hires of two of our former students:  Shaunta Adams Alvarez, Collection Development Librarian, Belk Library, Elon University, and recent graduate, Ava Iuliano, Academic Librarian, St. Charles Community College, St. Louis, MO.

One of the highlights of the conference for Dr. Slone was the Closing Breakfast, at which Roland Martin, the familiar African American analyst from CNN, spoke. His speech covered a number of topics, including the Obama presidency and politics in general. Another hit, probably even more popular, was Dr. Terrence Roberts, one of the Little Rock Nine. He was the keynote speaker at the opening general session. On an exciting, but less important note, he signed books in the booth directly across from ours! The line snaked around the corner. Our booth was more popular by association.

~DS, CD, and JV

Dr. Dunkley elected to FAME Board of Directors

A member of the USF SLIS faculty, Dr. Cora Dunkley, has been elected to the Board of Directors of  the state´s professional organization for school librarians, Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME). Her term will begin November 5, 2010 and will last until 2013. She has been appointed to the Professional Development Committee for the 2010-2011 year.

FAME is an organization dedicated to promote excellence in media services for Florida´s students, by serving as a network for all Florida library media professionals. FAME´s annual conferences are valuable opportunities for novice and experienced media professionals, and the association also publishes Florida Media Quarterly.


Dr. Cora Dunkley

Dr. Dunkley’s primary research interests are: multicultural literature for children and young adults, special collection preservation and development in children’s literature, and the role of media specialists in literature-based reading programs. At USF SLIS Dr. Dunkley teaches several courses, among them: Materials for Children, Storytelling, Organization and Administration of the School Media Center, and Multicultural Materials for Children and Young Adults. Dr. Dunkley also served on several committees for the American Library Association, such as the Coretta Scott King Award Selection committee.

Dr. Dunkley´s leadership is an asset to USF SLIS, and we are sure that all media library professionals in Florida will benefit from having talented people like Dr. Dunkley in their professional organization. Congratulations, Dr. Dunkley!

~AKL and JV

Meet our newest ALA Spectrum Scholar

Ms. Sylvia Martinez will begin full-time pursuit of her MLIS this fall at USF SLIS with the support of a Spectrum Scholarship from the American Library Association. Perhaps the best way to articulate the focus of this scholarship program is with ALA’s description of it: “Established in 1997, the Spectrum Scholarship Program is ALA’s national diversity and recruitment effort designed to address the specific issue of under-representation of critically needed ethnic librarians within the profession while serving as a model for ways to bring attention to larger diversity issues in the future.” [1]

Sylvia Martinez is USF SLIS's newest ALA Spectrum Scholar

Serendipity is our good fortune

By the time Ms. Martinez experienced the blinding-flash-of-light moment resulting in her determination to become a librarian, most scholarship application deadlines had already passed. In exploring the resources listed through the SLIS Web presence, the ALA Spectrum Scholarship was one of the few still accepting applications for the coming academic year. Sylvia’s challenge is our good fortune. We get to enjoy both her collegiality and our collaborative service to ALA in pursuit of the mission of this program.

Sylvia moved to the Tampa Bay area a few years ago after 11 years of teaching public school in the Minneapolis area.  She reports that during this time she was “always jealous of the librarians!” (She punctuates this statement with laughter.) Her favorite assignment with her students was taking them to the library to learn how to do research, which she also enjoys. During her summer breaks she regularly convinced an academic librarian friend to bring her along to work.

Ms. Martinez is playing her cards close to the vest for now and keeping her options open concerning her focus in librarianship. She’s made a head start acclimating to our program by beginning with her first ever, totally on-line course. She reports very much enjoying Foundations with Professor Stephanie Race. And she reports valuable input from her advisor, Professor Scott Simon. But she also looks forward to meeting as many of her colleagues and SLIS faculty as possible. [AB, 6/22/2010]

She may be contacted through USF email at: sylviam@mail.usf.edu

1 American Library Association. 2010. Spectrum scholarship program. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/diversity/spectrum/index.cfm

Food for thought from TBLC Strategic Reality Check

Tampa Bay Library Consortium

TBLC hosted a “Strategic Reality Check” workshop at Fruitville Library on Monday, May 17, 2010. The workshop was led by professional library consultants George Needham and Joan Frye Williams. This was an opportunity for area library professionals to examine ways they might reassess the success with which their libraries were serving patrons. The idea was to do so without scrapping missions and strategic plans and other long-range, expensive and time-consuming initiatives.

There were concerns about user friendliness and some novel ideas exchanged during the process. One of these was offered by a Pinellas County librarian who explained a novel acquisitions effort underway at her library. She explained that they’d observed an approximate waiting list number which, when reached, made waiting for bestsellers unattractive. At this point, patrons were more inclined to go by the book at a bookseller than to wait for a library copy. Their solution was to offer patrons the opportunity to purchase the book they sought on behalf of the library with the privilege of being the first to borrow it. They might then take a tax deduction for donating the book. A piece of the library’s acquisitions budget would then be freed for other purposes.

Another burgeoning concept with possible wider implications was outlined by Mr. Needham and Ms. Frye Williams. They asked participants to list major life passages such as retirement, starting a family, battling cancer, going to college, etc. They proposed the possibility of organizing the physical (and electronic) collections under these headings and explained that a public library in Europe was already working with it.

Finally, one small observation had to do with the hoops we require patrons to jump through in order to obtain a library card. This one might or might not have an easy fix to it. If we’re able to (and accustomed to) easily establish a user account at the web site of a commercial enterprise and retrieve lost passwords easily at these places, why then do we require potential library users to show up with photo ID in person along with proof of their physical address in order to use the public library?  Someone moving to a new town may possibly have a more difficult time obtaining a library card than they would changing over their drivers’ license.

Thanks to TBLC for access to this food for thought.

[AB, 5/25/2010]