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MLIS student named Diversity Scholar

Posted August 4, 2016


Maria Rios, a master’s student in the School of Library and Information Science, has been named an Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce (IRDW) Scholar for 2016-2018.

As one of the 15 students chosen nationwide as an IRDW Diversity Scholar, Rios will receive a stipend of up to $10,000 that will assist her in completing her degree over the next two years. She will also attend leadership and career development workshops, have access to financial support for skills development, and be paired with a professional mentor.

The ARL Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce is funded by ARL member libraries to attract MLIS students from underrepresented groups to careers in research libraries and archives. 

“The Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce continues ARL's tradition of a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Beth McNeil, dean of university libraries at Iowa State and member of the selection committee. “This year's pool of applicants was exceptionally competitive and, with candidates of this caliber, a bright and sustaining future for research libraries is assured.”

A Savannah, Georgia native, Rios graduated magna cum laude from Armstrong State University with a degree in English Professional Communications and a minor in psychology. She began the MLIS program at USC in January 2016.

Dr. Sarah Keeling, SLIS student services manager, said Rios has immersed herself in programs and opportunities both at the university and in the local area since beginning the MLIS program at USC. "Maria is a passionate learner and will be a passionate academic librarian in the future, "Keeling said. "Receiving this award is an honor which will open many doors for her."

Rios is an active member of LISSA, the Library and Information Science Student Association, and she works two jobs — as a graduate assistant in the library school’s student services office and part-time as a library specialist at Midlands Technical College-Airport campus.

In her essay to the ARL section committee, Rios wrote:

“Librarians are magic. We are not composed of fairy dust; however, we thrive as educators, advocates, and information specialists. As ‘magicians,’ we: research, explore technologies, apply best practices for information/data preservation, foster diversity and advocate for inclusion within our spaces, provide resources for those who do not have access, protect patron privacy, disseminate knowledge, cultivate our community and nationwide sociocultural template - and so much more. “ 

Rios said her passion for the “magic” spurs her professional career goals to involve carving out a space for being a “prime sociocultural producer and a role model for minorities to harness their own potential.” She said her ultimate goal is to weave her ”slightly nerdy” interests into cultivating minds in a positive manner.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in the United States and Canada with a mission to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve.