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Clayton Copeland and the diversity council

Posted June 5, 2015
Reprinted from InterCom (pdf)
Story by Brittany Jansen, senior public relations major
Photo: Dr. Clayton Copeland at the 2015 Spring Retreat for the National Advisory Council and the Diversity Leadership Group.


Dr. Clayton Copeland, an instructor in the School of Library and Information Science, is a special part of the school’s Diversity Leadership Group. Following a premature birth, Dr. Clayton uses a walker for ambulatory purposes and seeks to aid in broadening horizons of the council to include those that are differently-abled, like herself.

Dr. Copeland was asked to be a part of the council by founder Nonie Price a few years after its founding. Dr. Copeland accepted the offer gratefully. “Being part of a group that not only recognizes the abilities that are born through diversities and differing abilities, but that uses them to enhance our degree programs and our profession, in every way is a gift,” said Dr. Copeland.

She was inspired at a very young age to be a part of the library community by her elementary school librarian, Ellen Ramsey, and then by her middle/high school librarian, Vicky Culbertson. Both are alumni of the school’s MLIS program.

“They made the library such a special, magical place, a place where anything and everything was possible,” said Dr. Copeland.

Dr. Copeland is currently working to help promote diversity, leadership, and inclusion in every aspect of the SLIS degree programs, from student recruitment to program quality and evaluation and alumni relations through SLIS’s Diversity Leadership Group.

While the diversity council initially set out to improve the retention rates among African-Americans in the library research community, the council now addresses the needs of other groups with distinct needs.

Being part of a group that not only recognizes the abilities that are born through diversities and differing abilities, but that uses them to enhance our degree programs and our profession in every way is a gift. Dr. Clayton Copeland

The council was founded in 2005 when Price, the school’s continuing education coordinator, read an article about the low retention rates of African-Americans in the library and research science community. Price gathered some 25 people over lunch at the campus’s McCutchen House and the African-American leadership group emerged.

What has now become the Diversity Leadership Group is a volunteer group that focuses on the retention and advancement of minorities and those with disabilities within the South Carolina Library Association. The group has a Diversity Action Plan (pdf) which can be viewed here.