Faculty Spotlight – August 2022

Drs. Bharat Mehra and Robert Riter at the University of Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies in partnership with multiple state archives-related agencies, including the Alabama Department of Archives and History and the Alabama Public Library Service (AL), Multnomah County Archives (OR), New Mexico State Library (NM), Society of American Archivists, Special Collections and Archives at the California State University (CA), and others, were awarded a grant by the IMLS Laura Bush 21stCentury Librarian Program ($463,237) entitled “Training of Community-Embedded Social Justice Archivists (SJ4A)” [RE-252356-OLS-22]. The SJ4A project goal is to recruit and train 12 Black, Indigenous, and people of color paraprofessionals working in community‐based archives settings to earn library science master’s degrees with an archives concentration in their synchronous distance education program. Students will receive a structured, individually tailored curriculum that draws upon intersections in archival and social justice studies, including an integrated practicum course with community-based agencies. Read more about the grant at: https://www.imls.gov/grants/awarded/re-252356-ols-22.

Dr. Bharat Mehra at the University of Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies and Dr. Kimberly Black at the Chicago State University’s Department of Computer, Information, and Mathematical Science and Technology, in partnership with multiple state and public libraries, including the Alabama Public Library Service (AL), Athens Regional Library System (GA), Austin Public Library (TX), Birmingham Public Library (AL), Georgia Public Library Service (GA), Howard County Library System (MD), Kentucky Department for Libraries & Archives (KY), Library of Virginia (VA), Louisville Free Public Library (KY), Maryland State Library Agency (MD), Northwestern Library System (NC), Richland Library (SC), Richmond Public Library and Suffolk Public Library (VA), Tennessee State Library and Archives (TN), and others, were awarded a grant by the IMLS National Leadership Grants for Libraries ($332,939) entitled “Civic Engagement for Racial Justice in Public Libraries (RJ@PL).” [LG-252354-OLS-22]. The RJ@PL project goal is to study and build the capabilities of public librarians and selected communities to lead civic engagement and promote positive social change by advancing racial justice. The project team will collect data through surveys from public librarians and focus groups and interviews with library staff in each region; develop external and internal community engagement frameworks, strategic action plans, and roadmaps specific to domains like health, commerce, education, and public policy; and test these frameworks by implementing information-based solutions in libraries identified by state leaders in the region. Southern public libraries and their selected communities, as well as libraries and their service areas nationwide, will benefit from this project. Read more about the grant at: https://www.imls.gov/grants/awarded/lg-252354-ols-22.

Dr. Alissa Lange, Director of the Center of Excellence in STEM Education and EC STEM Lab at East Tennessee State University will be Principal Investigator and Dr. Bharat Mehra, in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama, will be co-PI of a new $467,000 federal grant awarded from IMLS. They will lead the 3-year project to create and evaluate an online professional learning program, Libraries Count, which will support library staff to integrate math into programming for young children and their families. The larger 10-state team will co-develop the program with key stakeholders from a culturally-responsive, strengths-based perspective in diverse settings; pilot, evaluate, and iteratively improve the program; roll out and evaluate the impacts of the program at scale through WebJunction across the pilot and additional states; and publish the final program on WebJunction for libraries nationwide to access for free. Read more about the grant at: https://www.imls.gov/grants/awarded/re-252310-ols-22.