iSchool and iPAC host Symposium on Diversity in Library & Information Science Education

Tuesday, November 20, 2012
On November 8 and 9, Maryland’s iSchool and the Information Policy & Access Center (iPAC) hosted the 2012 Symposium on Diversity in Library and Information Science Education at the University of Maryland. This event was the first national Symposium devoted to the intersection of diversity, inclusion, information, and education in this field. Along with the iSchool and iPAC, the event was sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the University of Maryland’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. 
 
This is the first organized forum for professionals, educators, researchers, government agencies, and nonprofits from around the country to collectively consider approaches, innovations, and best practices to ensure graduates of LIS programs are ready to provide inclusive services to diverse populations upon graduation. Symposium Chair Dr. Paul T. Jaeger noted, “This Symposium initiated many discussions that have the potential to spur broader adoption of innovative programs to help the field better serve an increasingly diverse population and better reflect the diversity of the public.”
 
With 159 registrants, 21 speakers, and 20 volunteers, the Symposium was a tremendous success. Attendees from around the country included deans, administrators, and faculty members from LIS programs; LIS students; public library directors, managers, and librarians; academic and research librarians, representatives of government and private funding organizations; directors of school library programs; experts in accessibility, usability & policy; and alumni of LIS programs.
 
The Symposium keynotes were delivered by Dr. Herman Totten of the University of North Texas and Jill Lewis, former director of the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. The Anne Scott MacLeod Lecture in Children’s Literature was delivered by Dr. Sandra Hughes-Hassell of University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Other panels and talks addressed issues such as creating academic programs that prepare students to work with diverse populations and seeking funding that can support such programs. 
 
A highlight of the Symposium was the presentation of the James Partridge Outstanding African American Information Professional Award, coordinated by the Citizens for Maryland Libraries (CML) and the iSchool. For the first time in the history of the award, there were two recipients – Johnnieque B. Love of the University of Maryland Libraries and Michelle H. Hamiel of Baltimore County Public Libraries – who both received an honorarium from CML and a crystal book award from iPAC.
 
The Symposium emphasized the Information and Diverse Populations (IDP) Specialization, a concentration within the Master's of Library Science (MLS) program at Maryland's iSchool. According to the Symposium Co-Chair, Dr. Mega Subramaniam, “The IDP specialization that is unique in the LIS education arena provides opportunities for future information professionals to obtain skills, knowledge and dispositions to be culturally competent and work with diverse populations.” 
 
iDiversity, the first LIS student-based organization based around diversity issues, was strongly represented at the Symposium as the majority of volunteers were iDiversity members and the Symposium Twitter discussion was moderated by @iDiversityUMD. Founder Rebecca Oxley addressed the attendees to describe the group’s inception and how like movements at other LIS institutions could be ignited. “iDiversity sees itself as an anchor for active participation, an outlet for advocacy, self-propelled professional development, and a connective agent for change within the information professions,” she said of iDiversity’s role in integrating diversity into LIS education programs.
 
As noted by Symposium Co-Chair Dr. John Bertot, “As our nation becomes increasingly diverse, furthering our knowledge, skills, and awareness of diverse populations is essential to providing and ensuring relevant and forward-looking information services, resources, and institutions. The iSchool at the University of Maryland intends to remain a leader in this field.”
 
All events were recorded and the Symposium archives will soon be available on the iDiversity website: idiversity.umd.edu. The 700 tweets from the Symposium tagged #LISDiv12 will be also be archived on the iDiversity site, and highlights are already available via Storify: http://storify.com/LibrariansFTW/1st-symposium-on-diversity-in-library-a.... Additionally, a special issue of Library Quarterly devoted to key themes and talks from the Symposium will be published in early 2013. 
 
Given the high level of interest and the success of this event, the Symposium on Diversity and Library and Information Science Education will become a regular event. The Symposium organizers have already begun to seek funding to make the Symposium a biennial occurrence. 
 
For more information about the IDP Specialization please visit http://ischool.umd.edu/content/information-and-diverse-populations.
 
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