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Kent State and University Circle Libraries Form Recruiting Partnership with $553,000 Grant

Posted Nov. 22, 2010

The School of Library and Information Science recently received a federal grant in the amount of $552,908 to create a unique educational partnership between the school and myriad educational, medical and cultural institutions in the University Circle area of Cleveland.

The grant, awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the primary source of federal funding for libraries and museums in the United States, will give 72 college undergraduates a hands-on introduction to the library profession, particularly in specialized areas with a shortage of qualified people (e.g., art, health sciences, music and other specialized academic areas).

Included in the partnership are the libraries and archives of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Museum of Art, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland Botanical Garden, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland Orchestra, Siegal College of Judaic Studies and Case Western Reserve University's nine affiliated libraries.

Greg Byerly, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Library and Information Science and director of the project, says it will have a national impact as the partners create a model recruitment plan for attracting undergraduate college students, particularly minorities, to the library profession.

"For several years, the directors of the libraries and archives in these cultural, educational and medical institutions have been concerned about the need to recruit qualified people with appropriate background to become librarians, especially in the specialized areas they represent," Byerly says, "and especially as there will be a great need for librarians when the baby boom generation retires in large numbers over the next 10 to 20 years."

Initial recruitment efforts will target juniors and seniors at five different Northeast Ohio colleges and universities, although additional institutions will be added later. Over the three years of the grant, four cohorts of undergraduate students will take two 3-credit courses, one each sequentially over two semesters. The first course will introduce students to the profession, particularly academic and special libraries, and the second will include a 100-hour supervised internship in one of the 19 partner libraries.

The grant covers tuition costs for the courses, which will be provided online by Kent State's School of Library and Information Science. Students will be able to transfer the 6 undergraduate credit hours from Kent State to their home institution.

The partnership with University Circle museums and other institutions also will help boost Kent State's new museum studies specialization in the School of Library and Information Science.

To help launch the museum studies program, the school this fall hired Kiersten F. Latham, who received her Ph.D. in library and information management from Emporia State University and has more than 20 years of experience working in museums in various capacities, as curator, collection manager, director, volunteer, program coordinator, archivist, historic interpreter, board member, exhibit designer and consultant. She will play an important role in the execution of the grant and in the ongoing partnership with the University Circle institutions.

Byerly has developed the initial course for the museum studies specialty and will be responsible for developing the two undergraduate courses for this grant project. Staff at the various University Circle libraries will assist Byerly and Latham in developing Kent State's new museum studies program and some will serve as adjunct faculty.

Only four American Library Association-accredited programs nationwide have a degree or certificate in museum studies or related areas. Kent State's School of Library and Information Science, in the College of Communication and Information, offers the only ALA-accredited Master of Library and Information Science degree program in Ohio.

Byerly, together with Carolyn Brodie, Ph.D., professor in the School of Library and Information Science at Kent State, has brought in more than $6.2 million in grants from the IMLS and other federal and regional sources since 1995.

"This important partnership demonstrates Kent State's ongoing commitment to enhancing the educational and cultural life of Northeast Ohio," Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton says. "Our nationally renowned leadership in the library and information science profession, together with new programs that address specific needs, serves as an outstanding example of how Kent State puts excellence in action."

In addition to the Master of Library and Information Science degree, Kent State's School of Library and Information Science offers a Master of Science in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management and is part of the interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in the College of Communication and Information. The school is recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the nation's top 20 graduate programs, and its youth librarianship program is ranked 13th. It is one of the largest library schools in the country, with nearly 700 students enrolled.

For more information about Kent State's School of Library and Information Science, visit