National Leadership Grants Fund Innovative Institutes

By McCook, Kathleen de la Pena | American Libraries, December 1998 | Go to article overview
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National Leadership Grants Fund Innovative Institutes

McCook, Kathleen de la Pena, American Libraries


Current controversies over the future of library and information science education shouldn't blind the profession to the positive connections between librarianship and the education community. Last year was the last time funding was provided for the National Leadership Grants by the Department of Education under the Higher Education Act Title II-B; beginning this year the Institute of Museums and Library Services became the federal unit that will administer the program (AL, Nov., p. 36).

With the recent retirement of Robert Klassen, director of library programs in the Education Department's Office of Educational Research and Improvement, who oversaw the HEA Title II-B program for 30 years, it is a fitting time to highlight some of the final institutes funded under that program. These range from the integration of teaching in the classroom through a partnership of school libraries and technologists to visits to farmworkers' labor camps to understand the literacy needs of migrant children.

During the summer of 1998, many educators of professionals at the front lines worked together to configure stronger library services and to develop leadership for the next decade.

Association for Research Libraries: Leadership and Career Development Program (

Racial- and ethnic-minority librarians got the opportunity to enhance their competitiveness for leadership positions in academic and research libraries through this institute, administered through the Association for Research Libraries' Diversity Program. Twenty-one minority librarians participated in the 1997-98 class, selected from a competitive applicant pool representing a diverse combination of library experiences, cultural backgrounds, and research interest areas.

The first component consisted of two institutes to train experienced and promising minority librarians in advanced leadership skills (held February 8-13, 1998, in Palm Coast, Florida, and May 24-29, 1998, in San Diego).

The second component was a career development and support program in which participants established mentoring relationships and pursued practical projects. Research topics developed included Elayne Walstedter's "Recruitment of Native Americans and Latinos into the Library Profession," Tracey Joel Hunter's "Information-Seeking Behavior of African-American Students at an Urban ARL," and Nerea Llamas's "Evaluating the Instruction Needs of Faculty and Students in the Humanities." The research on diversity, leadership, and career issues resulting from this component will be highlighted in ARL's publication series, Leading Ideas (

Recognizing that the mentoring they experienced was vital to their own development, the LCD class has formed a partnership with the 1997 - 98 ALA Spectrum Initiative Scholars as part of the mentoring component of the initiative.

Florida State University, School of Information Studies: Information Professionals Engage Radical Change: Connecting Youth, Books, and the Electronic World (slis-one. lis.

"We'll work together in ways we never have before," said one participant, whose Miami group "danced and sang" the results of their work during the wrap-up session of the institute, held June 19-24.

Energetic teams of information professionals who work with economically and ethnically diverse youth in Tallahassee, Orlando, Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami held daily action planning sessions on how to "radicalize" their communities through school-public system cooperative efforts based on digital-age resources. Each team developed a "Tier One" major plan, plus monthly plans of action that can be viewed at the institute's Web site. Graduate students created the Web site, and organized, taught, and staffed the institute alongside nine youth and faculty co-directors Eliza T.

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National Leadership Grants Fund Innovative Institutes


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