Posted November 17, 2020
By Megan Mellerson
Each year, the American Library Association awards dozens of scholarships to underrepresented
students looking to earn a master’s degree in library and information science from
a university of their choice. Now, by matching that $5,000 scholarship, the School
of Information Science at the University of South Carolina is giving students a new
reason to enroll.
The Spectrum Scholarship Program, an initiative of ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy
and Outreach Services, provides scholarships to American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian,
Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern and North African and/or Native
Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students to assist them with obtaining a graduate
degree and leadership positions within the profession and ALA.
Three Spectrum Scholars will have the opportunity to enroll at the iSchool for the
2021-2022 academic year while simultaneously qualifying as Augusta Baker Scholars.
The iSchool will match the Spectrum Scholarship amount, giving each scholar a total
of $10,000 toward their graduate library and information science degree.
"Since the inception of the Spectrum Initiative, we have had 18 scholars attend our
program,” says Augusta Baker Endowed Chair Nicole Cooke. “Now is our chance to be
proactive in recruiting more scholars, as we continue to affirm our commitment to
diversifying the library and information science profession.”
Baker Scholars will work directly with Cooke and have opportunities for networking
and research. They will also have access to equity, diversity and inclusion, and social
justice initiatives and activities.
"I was a 2008 Spectrum Doctoral Fellow, so the opportunity to have more Spectrum Scholars
in our MLIS program is really important to me," Cooke says.
The Spectrum Scholars who’ve graduated from the iSchool have risen to leadership positions
in the LIS profession. Kathy Carroll, a 2009 alumna, is the current president of the
American Association of School Librarians. And 2014 alumnus Jason Broughton was named
Vermont’s first African American state librarian and commissioner of libraries in
“The ALA Spectrum Scholarship program has assisted people like me in an effort designed
to address the specific issue of underrepresentation of critically needed ethnic librarians
within the professions,” Broughton says. “As I reflect on the past, one of the things
I keep with me is the experience and engagement of the staff and professors who wanted
to ensure a well-rounded experience of librarianship by offering an engaging mix of
theory and practical subjects by way of thoughtful experiences.”
By matching Spectrum Scholarships through the Augusta Baker Scholars initiative, the
iSchool affirms its commitment to diversity and inclusion by seeking the broadest
participation of new generations of racially and ethnically diverse librarians while
making obtaining a master’s degree accessible and affordable.
Megan Mellerson is a senior public relations major and intern in the college communications
office. She is also student editor of the college's student newsletter. She looks
forward to discovering the ways in which her passion for public relations intersects
with her interest in the field of advertising and brand marketing.