SLIS actively encourages students of multicultural, multiethnic, and multilingual backgrounds to apply. Our student body represents a wide range of nationalities, ethnicities, languages, and ages.
In addition to being one of the thrusts of the Simmons College strategic plan, diversity is a major facet of the 2010 Strategic Plan of the American Library Association, the largest library association in the world. At SLIS, which is at the intersection of these plans, we're working to increase diversity within our college, and, by extension, our profession.
Prior to the American Library Association's 2007 Annual Conference, Spectrum Scholars from Simmons SLIS participated in the Spectrum Scholars Institute. From left to right, they are Alma Ramos McDermott, Amber Moore, Brenda Mitchell-Powell (in front), Holly Smith, Diana Wakimoto, and Emerita Yanes.
Since the inception of the Spectrum Initiative Scholarship program sponsored the American Library Association, Simmons has successfully recruited nearly thirty scholars, one of the highest number among LIS schools. In the 2008-2009 academic year, Simmons had four Spectrum Scholars in the program, including one at SLIS West. For Fall 2010, we will host an additional four Spectrum Scholars, again including one at SLIS West. We take pride in the contributions of these students as active leaders on campus and in the profession. Simmons College has matched the $5,000 Spectrum awards for each student.
In summer 2007, Professor Tywanna Whorley was awarded $26,480 from Simmons' Diversity Council (TDC) to increase the number of students of color in its Archives Management Program through recruitment and retention. The project includes mentoring and practical work experience for students.
This marked the third year the SLIS recruitment project was funded by a TDC grant, and each of those years, SLIS Dean Michele Cloonan matched that funding with a $15,750 scholarship for one student. However, 2007 was the first year that SLIS collaborated with the Simmons College Archives, part of the Simmons Library, thanks to the support of Library Director Daphne Harrington.
Similar to the library field, archives is an area where students of color have been underrepresented. Past TDC grants have enabled SLIS to recruit students of color, especially from historically Black colleges, and to receive mentoring from Whorley and from each other. "From experience, I know that support from your fellow classmates can make a world of difference, so I encourage students to talk to each other about any issues they may be facing," she said. "Quality mentoring is one of the most effective ways to understand and meet the needs of graduate students of color, and thus support our efforts to recruit and retain culturally diverse students."
Archvist work with the records, manuscripts, and papers of people and institutions within many different settings, including print and all electronic media, and work in colleges and universities, museums, public libraries, corporations, and government agencies. Whorley, who was hired in October 2007 by Boston University as an archivist to arrange and describe its extensive Martin Luther King, Jr. collection, brought some of her interns with her one day to view the vast collection. One of the students was so excited, because she was able to touch the briefcase that Dr. King has used. She said she thought she was going to faint afterward," Whorley said with a smile. (Excerpted from In the Loop, April 11, 2008)
Another aspect of SLIS' commitment to diversity has been its outreach to the local community. In March 2005, the Library and Information Science Student Association (LISSA) planned its first Alternative Spring Break at the David G. Farragut Elementary School, near Simmons' Boston campus. During the fall semester, LISSA solicited volunteers to collect books and organize this event. Spearheading the initiative were LISSA representative Gil Rosen and MSLMA (Massachusetts School Library Media Association)/gslis students Linda Carroll and Eva Radding. The program continues to be held annually.
Additional diversity events and initiatives undertaken by SLIS include:
- Course development with funding from the Simmons Diversity Council includes LIS 530J: Information Services for Diverse Users, which broadens the exposure of the curriculum about services to people of color and other disenfranchised users.
- Diversity Summits and ongoing lectures include invited speakers such as DeEtta Jones of the Association of Research Libraries, who spoke about incorporating diversity concerns into strategic planning, and Robert Martin, Director of IMLS, who spoke to the SLIS community about Diversity initiatives in IMLS and in the LIS field. These summits allowed the Simmons SLIS and wider professional community to continue the dialog on ways to improve diversity at Simmons.
- Simmons SLIS hosts the monthly meetings of the Massachusetts Black Librarians Network.
- The Trejo Conference, which brings together LIS professionals from a variety of practice areas to present their experiences and promote field-tested strategies for engaging Hispanic/Latino populations in outreach, library, and information literacy activities, will be held at Simmons in November 2010. Assistant Professor Howard Rodriguez-Mori has been instrumental in its planning. See our events page for more information.
Please also see the SLIS Diversity Action Plan (DAP) developed in spring 2004 at a daylong retreat with the purpose of addressing ways to encourage diversity — among students and faculty, as well as throughout the curriculum. The DAP was developed based on the discussions held with faculty, students, and staff.
If you have any questions or concerns related to diversity, please contact:
Dr. Em Claire Knowles, Assistant Dean for Student Services